Ankobia awakens the memory of violence

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Ankobia - Momo Matsunyane and Alfred Motlhapi
Ankobia – Momo Matsunyane and Alfred Motlhapi

Standard Bank Young Artist Monageng Vice Motshabi’s play Ankobia could not be staged at a more relevant time when South Africans are engaging with the memory of the violence, crime and brutality of colonialism. Ankobia will premier this week at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown prior to a season at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg.

Set in a futuristic land of Pelodikgadile where it is forbidden to remember anything that happened before the new state was formed, Motshabi’s new play is a political allegory where the warriors of yesterday are shadows of themselves. Citizens walk around dazed in a perpetual state of government sanctioned amnesia. Their teeth sparkle but they are frozen in a mirthless smile. They are unable to connect even the injustice of the past five minutes to the present moment. Beyond the confines of this happy nation a fiery war is being fought and it threatens to awaken the land of Pelodikgadile from its sweet slumber.

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It is here where the hero, Xhoi, is among them. Having forgotten who he used to be and what his mission was, he sleepwalks through life and basks in the illusion of joy until from the hills emerge those whose memories are untouched. Ankobia is an exploration of this world where the memory of the violence, crime and brutality of colonialism is forbidden. The story is told through music and choreography and performed by a vibrant young cast gathered by Motshabi.

Motshabi has co-written Ankobia with Omphile Molusi, winner of the 2007 Brett Goldin Bursary which gave him a UK stint at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Among Omphile’ s credits are the internationally acclaimed plays Itsoseng and Cadre. Both Motshabi and Molusi are alumni of the Market Theatre Laboratory.

Ankobia will be staged at the National Arts Festival from 7 to 9 July and at the Market Theatre from 21 July – 13 August.

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