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Play delves into Lesotho’s history


. . . tackles transition from state of emergency

Mohalenyane Phakela

SOUTH African stage and screen legend Jerry Mofokeng is developing a fictional historical play set at a time when Lesotho was transitioning from the Qomatsi state of emergency in the early 1990s.

Titled My Father’s Daughter – Qomatsi the 75-minute production is set to be performed at the Vrystaat Kunstefees Arts Festival (Vryfees) slated for 14 and 15 July 2016 at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein.

Two local actors, Tseko Monaheng who plays Tseka and Mosili Makuta (Dipuo) star in the play which delves on the extents people are willing to go to attain and keep positions of power.

The plot revolves around Mofokeng’s character, Moetapele, whose party has managed to take power after 25 years of the Qomatsi era. However, the dawn of a new era brings its own set of challenges as new power dynamics emerge.

Moetapele faces a dilemma of who to appoint as the Defence minister. He wants former intelligence officer, Dipuo – the daughter of a slain war veteran – to occupy the position. But war veteran Tseka, who has been waiting in the wings for the past 25 years will not let a young woman occupy the seat.

On the other hand, Dipuo is reluctant to accept the position and sets the condition that she would only take it up once she has found her father’s remains and buried him honourably.

In an interview with the Weekender held during rehearsals in Maseru this past week, Mofokeng said he was asked by the Vryfees director to develop a Lesotho-themed play and decided delve into the Qomatsi era.

“Initially, I struggled to think of a theme for the play, but during my research, I came across the story of (former prime minister) Ntsu Mokhehle’s exile, return and assumption of power. I started working on the script in March, and edited it in April,” he said.

“People should understand that this is not a documentary but a fictional drama that unfolds the untold history of Lesotho. It is set in Lesotho but reflects the journey of many African countries.”

Mofokeng said while some people would counsel against delving into the Qomatsi era, they were many lessons to be learnt from that painful period in Lesotho’s history.

“The story is about the struggle for power which intends to show people that greed and selfishness live in us all,” he said.

“I hope to be as objective as possible so that Basotho can relate with it.”

My Father’s Daughter is Mofokeng’s fourth Lesotho-themed play, with the others being Motsuane, Mpolelle and Mantsopa.  He has also starred in such films as Cry My Beloved Country, Mama Jack, Sajene Kokobela and the Lesotho-filmed The Forgotten Kingdom.

“I have done four Sesotho stories, but this is the second historic play after Mantsopa,” he said.

The Tsotsi star said he lived in Lesotho for seven years in the 1960s and fell in love with the Mountain Kingdom henceforth.

“My grandfather used to work in Johannesburg as a postman. When he went retired, my grandfather took me with him to Hololo in Butha-Buthe where I lived from 1960 until 1967,” said Mofokeng.

“He was not a politically-inclined person, so I had little knowledge of what was going on in Lesotho at the time.

“I later heard about Qomatsi, but I was already back in Johannesburg. I only realised the intensity of the period recently when I started to research about it.”

He added: “Lesotho has so many historic stories that have not been told, and I hope Basotho can be brave enough to take the risk of telling them before someone from a different country does it.”

Vryfees is an arts festival that is aimed at transforming art through deep reflections fuelled with pleasure and joy. The theme for this year is “Our Africa” it revolves around music, dance and plays.

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