The Zwakala Festival: Blacksmith, a Play


The Zwakala Festival is a festival of new writing. Its objective is to showcase top productions from community theatre and choose an ultimate winner. One unique play that highlighted the importance of this festival is Blacksmith.

Blacksmith is a monologue that takes people of African descent back to their roots. It tells the story of how Africans lost their identity and beliefs, adopting the Western religion, namely, Christianity. It introduces the rich, vibrant and melodious sounds used to connect with African spirits. This is one play that embodies African spirituality and traditions excellently.

Before the monologue starts, a deep African drum is heard, followed by an enthralling African prayer, worshiping great leaders from the past. The prayer evoked a spiritual connection in the room, I could hear the audience shouting African praises in different languages as the drum echoed in the room.

The director was very smart in telling the story. He used masks to deliver different messages from God and the ancestors, which gave this play the excellent rating it deserves. “These masks accentuated different characters allowing the audience to connect and engage with different ancient African personalities,” said Thando Bukula, who was part of the audience.

The set decorated with different masks, hanging facing the audience delivered a flawless African atmosphere. The use of masks itself expressed the desire to bring the audience and ancestors together to create a true physical interaction.

The play questions Africans’ adoption of Western religion and spirituality. Yet it reiterates the existence of God, worship, and beliefs long before Europeans arrived on our shores.
The choreography shined through, it presented an excellent piece of art. I could feel the audience connecting with the rhythmic African drum. The actor showed an excellent ability to use African chants, powerful gestures and a strong voice to bring the dance to life.

If you are looking for an African story, rooted in spirituality and identity. This is the play for you. It divulges African tales that are often not told.

This article was submitted on 15 December 2022. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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