Page 37 - University of Pretoria RESEARCH REVIEW 2016
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The Ubuntu project at UP has several research foci clustered around four themes. The primary focus is the concept of Ubuntu and inserting this into the broad intellectual debate on self and community, by demonstrating its intellectual and philosophical value and practical grounding in practices emanating from the Africa continent.
There were several research outcomes and notable events in 2016 for the Ubuntu project as a whole.
A significant highlight was the production of Mama Mudu’s Children, a play written and directed by playwright Dr Masitha Moeane, and supported by UP Arts. The play is rooted in aspects of the broader Ubuntu research findings and fieldwork experiences, especially related to interrogating the value and relevance of the concept Ubuntu in conflict and post- conflict situations in contemporary society. It is set in an imaginary community, Edladleni, in post-freedom South Africa, and captures a community that swims against the tide of survival and a myriad thwarted expectations. Characters embody a battle with the slide from deprivation to depravation: xenophobia, crime, family units disintegrating, alienation, negativity, and bitterness. Yet, even in the
depths of despair, redemption remains possible in people’s resort to Ubuntu – as captured in human values, community spirit and environmental activism.
The script was finalised with contributions from Professor James Ogude, Director
of the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at UP, and award-winning playwright and leading scholar in
African Drama and Cinema, Professor Bhekizizwe Peterson of the University
of the Witwatersrand. In rehearsals,
Dr Moeane worked closely with a full cast of UP students, some of whom had never performed on stage before, together with Mxolisi Duda (Deputy Director of the production), and Phuti Matuba (technical manager), to stage a gripping African theatre performance.
The first performance at the Aula theatre at UP was a resounding success, played to a capacity audience, with further
performances in 2017. When the play was performed to a Soweto Theatre audience, several audience members expressed their appreciation for the significance of the play in contemporary South Africa. The play is an example of participatory theatre in Africa, especially in its use of language, song and dance, myth and magic, belief systems and in its general texture. Its aspiration is simple: to tell an interesting, original story that is socially and humanly significant, and to tell it well. The play has been recorded on DVD and translated into Sesotho. Both English and Sesotho versions are in press, due to be published by African Perspectives. Professor Ogude is also consulting with leading Swahili scholars to have the play translated into Swahili.
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