Moto Wachilendo premiered before a sold-out crowd in Blantyre on Sunday, but failed to live up to its billing due to flaws Manganya attributed to censorship.
Despite courageously portraying the hardships Malawians are going through due to poor governance, the eagerly awaited political play received bleak reviews from fans that packed Robin’s Park—thanks to defective scripting, casting, setting and flow of thought.
But playwright Manganya (real name Michael Usi), speaking after the two-hour act, attributed the flaws to pressure from the National Censorship Board and laxity of some actors. He said the crew had to modify the play at the 11th hour because the censors were uncomfortable with scenes that were directly referring to the ruling elite.
“The play is a full satire but I will not take the play to Lilongwe until and unless the censors allow us to include all the parts that were removed. Honestly, I did not enjoy acting in Moto Wachilendo because we were compelled to cut and remove three parts that were key to the play. The worst could have been cancelling the show, but we had already spent and advertised heavily.” said Manganya.
In 2011, the playwright-cum-writer earned rave reviews with the 2011 satire Maloto a Farao on the repressive leadership of fallen president Dr Bingu wa Mutharika.
This time, he indicated that he was reconsidering his involvement in political plays for as long as the arts are being suffocated by threats on freedom of expression.
Edgar ndi Davis band cofounder Davis Njobvu, who was in the audience, said the plot “mirrored lack of proper scripting” while Mbayani resident Grace Kaonga diagnosed it of “unfolding like a political rally and lacking the symbolism, incisiveness and appeal of Maloto a Farao”.
The play kept the audience laughing even at its lowest ebb.