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Silvanos Mudzvova’s Play “King of Mutapa” a political satire on African leadership

Silvanos Mudzvova

Manchester-based actor and human rights activist, Silvanos ‘Bhanditi’ Mudzvova’s latest play, King of Mutapa, is a satire about precolonial African kings and how they ruled their empires with iron swords and fists. The play does not have any specific location but is influenced by the writer’s country of origin, Zimbabwe.  It uses traditional attire, live traditional music and props.

Despite the play setting (pre-colonial) it is a very modern day political satire that a lot of people can easily relate with. It’s main theme focuses on ruthlessness by rulers but it has interesting sub plots like how traditional economy was well organised and why it was so successful as well.
The play touches a very personal issue to the writer’s political violence.  This is very rampant in most African countries especially towards election times.
Below, Spiked Online Media reproduces the script:

King of Mutapa

SET UP

VARIOUS AFRICAN TRADITIONAL MUSIC INSTRUMENTS ARE SET ON ONE SIDE OF THE STAGE. A CHAIR FOR THE MUSICIAN. SEVERAL PROPS ARE THROW ALL OVER THE STAGE .

Musician walks into the stage and spot light around his chair and instruments.

Musician

He starts playing song chaminuka ndimambo using mbira. He plays for three or four times then from behind the scenes Mutapa starts playing shakers coming onto the stage.

ANOTHER SPOT LIGHT COMES UP ON KING MUTAPA AS WALKS INTO THE STAGE PLAYING SHAKERS THEN HOLDING HIS FIGHTING WEAPONS. HE MOVES SEVERAL STEPS ESTABLISHING HIS CHARACTER THEN HE STOPS AND STARTS SIGNING TOGETHER WITH THE MUSICIAN.

KING MUTAPA IS SHOWING HIS MUSCLES AND FIGHTING POWERS DURING THIS WHOLE SONG. MUSIC GOES DOWN/REDUCED

 

KING MUTAPA

(military style delivery as if inspecting guard of honour)

Am the greatest compare me to king Hannibal who ruled from 247 upto 183 BC yes before Christ. (guard of honour) Hannibal greatest general and military strategist who ever lived. He used his overpowering African armies to conquer major portions of Spain and Italy and come very close to defeating the Roman empire. His audacious moves such as marching his army with African War elephants through treacherous Alps to surprise and conquer Northern Italy and his tactical genius, as illustrated by the battle of Cannae where his seemingly trapped army cleverly surrounded and destroyed a much larger Roman force won him recognition which has spanned over 2000 years. His tactics are still being studied in many military schools in Europe today.

CHAMINUKA NDIMAMBO IS PLAYED HIGH

PLEASE don’t compare me to little kings of yester year like Jaja of Opombo , Kamuzu of Nyasaland , Idi Amin dada , saddam Hussein or kadhafi or little Mugabe combined with Trump am great.

TRADITIONAL DRUM STARTS PLAYING WAR BEATS MUCHONGOYO AT LOW VOLUME

(HE BEGINS TO CIRCLE AS IF SPEAKING TO ANOTHER IMIGINARY KING.)

I stand here before you and challenge any leader across the world to come into this battle ring. I want you to face me today.

TRADITIONAL DRUMS BECOMES MORE LOUDER

KHULA MADHODHA HO SHO KHULA MADHODHA HO SHO

 

KING MUTAPA

(feeling pain in his back) am too old now but I can’t stop fighting. My late but great father died somewhere around 100 years, but up to death he read and studied his bible like a young man. his commetantaries were logical and the analysis were rational and I think am following his foot steps now am 90 something.

TAPERA NEHONDO STARTS PLAYING LOWLY

I can’t afford to be weak my political enemies want to take over Mutapa state with the help of those with wet nose but forget it. I will defend my heritage. They say am too old I should retire. tell me who among their kings and queens has retired. the queen of England will die queen, king of Belgium will die king, the same with Netherland, Denmark. Why should African kings be forced retire why? why? (emphasis) why why why should be forced to retire? Whose standards are we following? We do democracy the African way and no one, I mean no one can dictate how we should run our democracy.

MUTAPA IS SO ANGRY AND TAPERA NEHONDO IS RAISED TO THE MAXIMUM MBIRA. HE PACES AROUND THE THEATRE SIGNING. HE APPEARS TO BE SHOWING PSYCHOTIC SYMPTOMS HE STOPS AND STATS SPEAKING TO HIMSELF.

Mutapa

What do we do Mutapa. Calm down, breath in deeply and again calm down and deep breath.

HE APPEARS CALM NOW AND HE STARTS SPEAKING

Mutapa

They provoke me by their stupid demands for democracy but I will handle them. Well let me start by properly introducing myself. I am king Mutapa in fact I was born as king Mutapa but I can’t remember when. my parents only said it was the year of earthquake in Africa when thousands and thousands lost their lives when the earth shacked. They blame the white men for bringing such bad omen to our motherland especially the Portuguese who came with their barter trade in Mozambique and started taking people wives.

I grew up in a very poor family because everything was taken away from us cattle’s, goats, hoes and land. The white men would take our fertile land and share it themselves. My grandfather tried to resist such moves. He organised fellow villagers armed with a shield bow and arrow vs smoking guns

PLACE TAPERA NEHONDO VOLUME IS INCREASED HERE FIGHTING SONG

MUTAPA HOLDS HIS SHIELD AND ARROW. HE THROWS HIS ARROW AND CELEBRATES A KILLING. HE MOVES OVER PUT ON A MASK TO SYMBOLISE A WHITE MEN AND HOLDS A SMOKING GUN IN THE FORM OF A WOODEN GUN. HE STARTS SHOOTING AND KILLING.

 

WHITE MAN

We have liberated the whole area. This land now belongs to us. (imaginary person) from here until that far. it’s all yours. (as if someone raised a complain) you’re complaining your farming area is bigger than Belgium plus all the cows, women, mining claims. stop being a cry baby.

WHITE MEN THROWS AWAY MASK AND SMOKING GUN AND BECOMES MUTAPA

Mutapa

So, I grew up knowing that everything I owned was taken by the use of force. When I was growing up My father would constantly remind of what we lost and to who. I will not bother you about how I was good with colonial education and awards I was being given by the colonialists. All I wanted was to master their language of which I managed to achieve.

REDUCE TAPERA NEHONDO UNTIL IT ENDS.

so, after being decorated with those useless degrees and being offered employment where I was being given peanuts compared to a colonialist with far less qualification, I was pained to the bone.

SHAKERS HOSHO STARTS PLAYING HIGHLY FOR TWO OR THREE TIMES THEN VERY LOW. MUTAPA DOES MIME AND WORDS AT THE SAME TIME. ITS IN A POETIC NOTE.

Mutapa

The pain of being oppressed by the oppressor.

The pain of wanting to achieve something great, the pain of knowing you’re more qualified and more capable yet you’re always rewarded with peanuts, the pain of being denied what others are getting. The pain of knowing your resources are being exploited. the pain of being denied voting rights, the pain of majority not having land yet minority have plenty of it. This pain made us take arms and fight.

SHAKERS HOSHO GO HIGH HE PICKS UP GUN AND CONTINUES POETIC

Mutapa

This pain made us to fight.

The pain made us walk hundreds and hundred of miles. The pain made others get eaten by wild animals. The pain made us cross crocodile infested rivers. The pain taught us to be fearless, teenage boyz becoming men, young girls become women. The pain made us to the called golliras yet their army was called soldiers. We fought on empty stomach motivated by the pain. We stayed in mountains being exposed to the sun, the run, the cold weathers but the pain made us strong. The whole mutapa empire was in pain but we conquer the unconquerable. We fought hard , thousands died , we lost friends , family members and loved ones but the pain of being oppressed made us strong. The pain and the sacrifices finally paid when they surrendered. The might force of colonial army was defeated. And when I say compared me to Hannibal you think am joking.

THE WEST AFRICAN FLUTE CELEBRATORY MUSIC. MUTAPA TAKES CELEBATORY FLIERS AND START SPREADING ON THE STAGE.

MUTAPA

The great Bob Marley graced the occasion and when I talked of reconciliation I become a darling of the west. I was given a knight, I was their new African favourite or is it their new toy. I was honoured with a dance with the queen of England something very rare for an African.

MUTAPA TAKES AN IMAGINARY QUEEN FOR A DANCE FOR A FEW SECONDS.

I was their darling and favourite because I was following their way of democracy.

The minute I opened my eyes, the dancing with queen ended. I become enemy number one. All I did was to demand land the reason why we fought them in the first place. But they forgot am Hannibal I can take anyone anywhere at any time even in their own territories.

FLUKE MUSIC STOPS COMPLETELY AS MUTAPA GOES BIRSK

Mutapa

I was used and thrown away like a used condom. I was used and blocked like an unwanted friend. I was read and dumped like a newspaper. The drunk all the contents of bottle and throw the bottle away. They cut me into piece. I felt useless. Useless useless.

MUTAPA CALMING DOWN AGAIN SHOWING SIGNS OF PSYCHOTIC BEHAVIOUR.

Mutapa

Calm down, take a deep breath, calm down, breath inn breath out, calm down. I know what they want to do, provoke my emotions so that I can lose it. My doctor taught me this technic and its waking wonders. Now am calm.

Now this is turning point to my story. The west wanted to get rid of me and they started creating discontent in Mutapa empire. Am determined to protect what is mine, am determined to protect what I sorry we fought for. Its like a game of chess. when the enemy moves to eliminate your king, your pawns move quickly to protect it. Protecting the king at all times that’s how my people reacted.

 

CHIMUTENGURE MUSIC STARTS. MUTAPA PICKS WEAPON AND STARTS CAMPAINING.

Mutapa.

I come to you my people seeking your vote, am your tried and tested king of mutapa empire I promise you this vote will be free, fair and credible. Everyone who doesn’t know how to write an X on ballot paper will be assisted. Let’s show the west our true democracy.

MUTAPA APPEARS AS IF HIS COMMENTING ON A FOOTBALL MATCH.

CHIMUTENGURE BEGINS TO FADE SLOWLY AND CUT DURING THE COMMENTARY.

Mutapa

It’s the grand finale, royal finale …… best of the best. If it was in soccer will be talking about a match clashing Diego Maradona and Pele that match never happened. In boxing mahommed Ali vs Mike Tyson again that dream fight never happened. In music it will be Elvis Perlsey clashing with Michael Jackson (MIMICKING AM DEAD AM DEAD YOU KNOW IT YOU KNOW IT). But it’s a world fight starring the world powers vs one and only king of Mutapa.

USE LEG SHAKERS CREATE VERY SHORT FIGHTING SCENE

THE TORTURE BIGINS MUSICIAN USES LEG SHACKERS IN SINK WITH THE TORTURE HAPPENING BEING DONE BY MUTAPA. MUTAPA TAKES A WATER BACKET AND CONVERTS TO BECOME A MUTAPA CITIZEN. AT THE END HIS ASSURED WITH AN X VOTE.

MUTAPA CHANGES TO ANOTHER CITIZEN AND USES PHYSICAL ASSAULT TECHNIC AND IS ASSURED OF ANOTHER VOTE.

CHEMUTENGURE IS STARTED AGAIN WHEN MUTAPA CHANGES BACK TO HIMSELF.

Mutapa

To rule is to dictate. They give me sanctions and I use survival tactics in return. What option do I have? Look at what their form of democracy did to Libya, Iraq and Syria. I have to protect mutapa empire from such an embarrassment.

Well freedom of speech is allowed, activists are allowed to make their noise its constructive and good but they create fictious stories of harassment and torture from who? We are a free state although as king mutapa am not responsible for the after effects.

Am responsible for those who vote for me and support my office.

HE COUGHS UNCONTROLLABLE FOR SOME TIME. HE SHOWS SIGNS OF DEEP BREATHING AND CONCERN

BANGISA STARTS PLAYING MBIRA MUSIC

Mutapa

The doctors say I have first stage lung cancer and I always tell them its just a lung infection and I will fight it. They say I should rest more and sleep more but it proving too difficult. I can’t sleep, am having more sleepless nights. If I try to put my head down on the pillow I always dream, but some of the dreams are shocking and I am failing to understand them.

HE WONDERS AROUND FOR A FEW SECONDS

 

Like last night I was in the Zambezi river enjoying a boat cruise with my young wife. All of a sudden, the water started turning red. Well at first, I thought it was red wine for the romantic occasion I was enjoying. It started turning into hard red and dead bodies floating on top of the blood.

The river blood continued to grow until it become Nile then it turned into an ocean full of dead bodies. What does this mean? Whose blood is this? I only killed a few thousands and they cant fill a small river.

So, this morning I summoned by state traditional healer. I believe this man more than the medical doctors. Most of the times he says exactly what I will be thinking. I have consulted him about wars , elections and his predictions always come true. Like his last diagnosis., he was spot on I don’t have cancer but lung infection being caused by my political enemies.

So, this morning

MUTAPA TURNS INTO TRADITIONAL HEALER.

Traditional healer

My king. (he throws his bones) huuuuuu ,

Mutapa

What is it

Traditional healer

I see blood flowing everywhere

Mutapa

Whose blood? I have never killed anyone with my hands

Traditional Healer

Of the people who died at your instruction my king

Mutapa

I dreamt of this last night. My enemies are trying to cast bad demons on me. What should I do sangoma ? tell me and shall be done

Traditional Healer

We need fresh human blood cut from the throat of a virgin girl and an adult male urgently. As soon as this is done come to my mountain shrine tonight.

Mutapa

If this can, make me sleep then it shall be done today sangoma.

TRADITIONAL HEALER STANDS UP AND LEAVES

MAHORORO SONG AND MIME WALK.

Mutapa

This is why a love my sangoma his very practical and offers immediate solutions those medical doctors prescribed sleeping tablets to a person seeing blood. wasted education.

To rule is to dictate one word and fresh still hot blood was delivered within minutes. When am visiting the shrine for rituals I use my bare foot this is done to please my ancestors.

 

MUTAPA STARTS TO MIME WALK GOING TO THE MOUNTAIN. FIND THE WALK.

Mutapa

I started my journey soon after sun fall. The moon was up a very big moon surrounded by shinning stars. Mutapa empire becomes peaceful at night and when standing at the hill top like me you can enjoy and admire the scenery. To imagine that I rule over this beautiful land

SUDDEN ANGER

And to imagine the naked provocation of those without knees. I warn those white farmers that they should not stoke fires, that they should not play with the lions tail. They relied on brute for to subjugate our people and plunder our resources NXA. They did enough by colonising us and butchering our ancestors using the maxim gun and hanging and beheading our chiefs. Now our chiefs skulls are kept in their museums as trophies.

SUDDEN STOP. HE PULLS OUT HIS IMAGINARY PENNIS AND STARTS URINATING.

Aaaaaa Jesus Joseph and Mary. I feel relieved oooooooo yes. To think that women used to cry for this thing and now no one cares. All those fake orgasms were fake fake fake. How come I don’t have any son to take over my throne or even a daughter hake nxa.

TO PENIS

This thing was tortured and electrocuted by the colonialist until it couldn’t function anymore. I failed to have any kids because of that torture. Now doctors are saying they to put some funny tube for me to use for the why? I will struggle with my wee and eventually it will come out.

HE LOOKS BOTH SIDES TO CHECK IF ANYONE IS LOOKING.

The funny part after struggling with wee number calls. My security walks a distance away from me.

HE KNEELS DOWNS TO DO NUMBER 2. SIGNS THAT HIS STRUGGLING COME AND GO DURING DIALOGUE.

The west think they are very clever. They want to preach human rights to me. Where were they when i was being electrocuted, when I lost the ability to have kids. Now I was sodomised by catholic priest at a boarding school. When I shout gays are worse than dogz am very right. They made me gay.

SHOWING SIGNS OF PAIN AND STARTS PUSHING AS IF IN LABOUR .

Push push push . labour is far better than this push push push. The traditional healer told me never to use a toilet never. It makes me weak. I use the bush or plastic if am in hotels its very health and it protects my power. Push push push….. ( breathing heavily)

Am always ahead of the west and their conspiracies. The fact that Mutapa shall be forever free means that the return of those with wet noses is just a racist pipe dream. They will return only in the archives, museums and virtual websites. When everything is said and done every mutapa citizen belongs to me. I even sleep with one eye open and two brains of out five awake.

HE IMMEDIATELY STANDS UP AND WEEPS HIMSELF AND ACCIDENTIALLY PUT HIS FEET ON THE POO

Mutapa

Look at what the sanctions are doing confusing me stepping on my pee. Nxa you colonialist shit.

SONG SHUMBA TRADITIONAL DRUM STARTS PLAYING WAR BEATS MUCHONGOYO

Whenever I visit my traditional healer I walk on foot so that I can communicate with ancestors . my security team walks some distance away . I need this space and fresh air

 

HE STARTS CLAPPING REACHING TRADITIONAL HEALER

Mutapa

Tisvikewo asekuru

CHANGES TO TRADITIONAL HEALER

Traditional healer

HE PRODUCES EXTREME SOUNDS.

I have bad news. I used the blood you sent for my rituals. the results come back. the blood you’re seeing its your ancestors calling you. They want you to ask for forgiveness from everyone you have wronged as they are preparing for your arrival.

HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGES TO BECOME MUTAPA. HE HOLDS IMAGINARY HEALER BY THE THROAT’

Mutapa

Do you know who you are addressing. Address me as king

The poor traditional healer panicked and he defecated on himself what a poor man. I left him there got out and just gave a sign to my security

TAIMBOREWA STOPS PLAYING.

CROSS CUTTING THROATH SIGN.

The was the last I heard of him and his fake bones. he was paid by the imperialists to tell me to resign and apologies. Apologies to who? these are people. I own them, they dance according to my tune. I will never give up so easily to something people died for. We went to war to liberate ourself and no one I no one will ever take that away from mutapa. My people prepare for war the enemy wants to take us over

 

MHURI YANGU

 

 

MUTAPA FEELS PAIN IN HIS HEART AND HE BEGINS TO CRY IN PAIN .

Call me an ambulance , call an ambulance now . call my traditional healer immediately .

Musician .

You ordered for him to be killed

 

 

END SCREEN REMARK

THE HATE OF MEN WILL PASS, AND DICTATORS DIE , AND THE POWER THEY TOOK FROM THE PEOPLE WILL RETURN TO THE PEOPLE. AND SO LONG AS MEN DIE , LIBERTY WILL NEVER PERISH.

END

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende