Zwakala and look at Othandweni: A daring Offering

The 2022/23 Zwakala Festival was directed by Momo Matsuyane. It is the most established and well-respected theatre festival in Gauteng. It has been running for more than 30 years this year. The community-based theatre included the Othandweni theatre play from Tembisa, Ekurhuleni.

Othandweni is a story of forbidden love, inspired by a true story of a 24-year-old woman that had a romantic relationship with her biological father.

Written by Thamsanqa Gxubane, this unconventional love story takes us through a crash course of psychoanalysis theory–the Oedipus Complex–unpacking the trails of suppressed memories. The play starts with a mentally unstable Mojalefa who is haunted by a confusing blur of memories that happened in his previous home. Boitumelo, his young wife, is on a verge of expunging those flash-backs permanently since they might reveal a huge secret that could destroy their marriage.

Othandweni is a complicated love story that seemed very difficult to stage. It’s a very confusing theatre piece that is weaved by bold melodious songs, that intrudes loudly yet gently in every scene, piercing through the subconscious mind. It creates a very uncomfortable mood. The actors outdid themselves to deliver this complicated work challenging social norms.

In the beginning, the play is very hard to understand. The audience will only discover at the end the meaning behind Mojalefa’s flashbacks. This play analyses the psychology of attraction and what we deem conventional and unconventional intimate relationships in our societies. It also highlights the ramifications of neglect or lack of emotional intimacy at the early stages of a child’s life.

This play is not for the faint-hearted or for children younger than 18 years of age. The director is not shy in exhibiting explicit sexual scenes. Though it is a well-performed play it definitely provokes societal ethics and values. It is a great experience to share with an older audience and may open a very interesting conversation.

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

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