A theatrical gem from Zimbabwe

2011-09-19 00:00

ZIMBABWEAN refugee Jonathan Khumbulani Nkala shares an intimate, funny, shocking and deeply poignant story with theatregoers in his autobiographical story Cockroach.

Hailing from the small town of Kwekwe “in the USZ — the unstable state of Zimbabwe”, his earliest desire was to follow in the footsteps of the local milkman who was lucky enough to ride a three-wheel bike and always got what he wanted.

The milkman was, however, relegated to the minor leagues of hero worship when his dad was promoted to messenger and got his own bicycle. At the age of 12 he learns to ride this precious possession, but within months his world falls apart. His father dies, his uncle kicks Jonathan, his brother and mother out 0f their home and — worst of all — takes the bike.

It is the first of many lessons this deeply Christian man has to learn about life. The next is when he, an Ndebele man, falls in love with Faith, a young Shona girl. It’s a love story which nearly ends in tragedy for both teenagers.

The final lesson is learned when Jonathan and his best friend, Jacob, decide to risk death by jumping the border into South Africa. After walking hundreds of kilometres they have to cross a crocodile-infested Limpopo River. Jacob doesn’t make it, but hard work and a resilient spirit help Jonathan to triumph over adversity.

Cockroach is by turns witty, funny, heart-rending and poignant. A little theatrical gem.

 

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