WHEN they performed for the first time their theatre production Ihloka at last year’s Intwasa Arts Festival at Bulawayo theatre, the audience was mesmerised as Umkhathi Theatre Works portrayed a polished production which is undoubtedly one of the best stage pieces to be produced in the City of Kings and Queens.
With theatre lovers only having had a chance to watch the play on roll once, the production was requested by popular demand and it ran for the second time at the Intwasa Extra in December.
The play’s moment of glory could be around the corner since it’s nominated three times at this year’s edition of the prestigious National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) under the categories of Out Standing Theatre Production, with the director of the play Matesu Dube and Leonard Phiri nominated for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Actor respectively.
The controversial play which borders around thematic concerns which came with the colonisation of Zimbabwe by the whites leading to the great Umvukelwa Uprising of 1896-97 and touching around the demise of the Ndebele King Lobengula has only been presented twice after its production only to the Bulawayo audience.
Matesu the visionary man behind the epic productions reveal how enthusiastic he is about the play’s nomination and success so far.
“Ihloka was launched at Intwasa last year, we produced it way back in 2016 but we were not sure whether to launch it locally because it’s a controversial piece that criticises the colonial settler regime and other Bantu tribes.
“We are greatly honoured to top the nominations under Theatre Awards and we thank all our fans who supported us on this controversial production. We want to bring all the three accolades home, we kindly ask our beloved fans to vote for us,” said Matesu.
With the play gaining local support proved by its Nama nominations, Matesu revealed plans of touring Europe courtesy of the play is on the cards.
“We are engaged with our stakeholders and partners in Europe in planning to showcase the play worldwide because it’s rich in content and significance as it is based on true historical events. If all goes well in April the play will be showcased to the world,” he said.