by Constance Manika
- Zimbabwe -
Zimbabwean theatre lovers have had something to talk about for the past two weeks. Cont Mhlanga's riveting new play, The Good President, premiered here in Harare, Zimbabwe, on April 12.
This politically charged satire, written and directed by Zimbabwe's most controversial playwright, summarizes the country’s 30 years against British colonial rule, focusing specifically on events leading to Zimbabwe's independence. It goes on to highlight what has happened in the 27 years since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980. All in one tight hour of compelling action.
The play kicks off with a scene in a police station where two police officers are assaulting the leader of an opposition party, acted by a look-alike of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s strongest opposition, Movement for Democratic Change.
In addition to beating him up, they search his pockets and steal all his money and leave him for dead. One of the police officers, Wangu, who had been shown in a previous scene sadly telling his girlfriend that he had no money to meet her demands, is suddenly ready to finance all of her requests.
These events bounce back to haunt Wangu when his grandmother comes to the city for an eye treatment. In one of their many conversations, Wangu is told that his father, himself a former leader of the opposition, was murdered by state agents during the 1983 Gukurahundi, the civil war that erupted in Zimbabwe soon after independence between two ethnic groups—the Shona and the Ndebele.