It is out. Actor Michael Usi will stage Moto Wachilendo at Robin’s Park on Sunday afternoon, giving a glimpse of the root of the political and economic woes plaguing Malawians almost 50 years after independence.
Last month, consumers took to the streets to demonstrate against the rising cost of living following the devaluation and floatation of the kwacha. This week, civil servants have been striking against their stunted salaries amid inflationary forces. All over the country, Malawians are seeking answers to the prevailing economic woes.
But in the scenes The Nation watched on Tuesday, the play written by Usi (stage name Manganya) goes public to confront bad governance as one of the major causes of the hardships Malawians are facing. And its scope stretches from colonial times to present day multiparty dispensation.
Unmasking his thrust, the actor-cum-playwright launched the media preview with the state-of the-play address to Moto Wachilendo’s 14 performers: “This is a political play. Its temperature is political. Its objective is political—a closer look at national development and how we can help improve people’s wellbeing.”
The cast includes newcomers in a flurry of old hands, including Pamajiga performer Nanyoni (Enifa Chiwaya), former Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre’s Jeremiah Mwaungulu, Kwathu Drama Group’s Fiddes Kumwembe, Wanna Do’s Gif Namachekecha, Nginde comedian Frank Yalu, Seasons of A Life film aces Flora Suya and Tapiwa Gwaza, and Chindendelinde singer Mafumu Matiki.
Typically, this is a mix of hilarity and social discourse. The cast takes viewers to a marketplace where the side effects of kwacha’s fall are biting both the poor and the rich; to a hospital where beds and essential drugs are rarer than gold; to a ministerial office occupied by a bossy, corrupt and illiterate legislator while learned minds shun politics as a dirty game; to the minister’s constituency where people feel abandoned as their pampered parliamentarian prioritises Cabinet duties.
“All is set for the launch of Moto Wachilendo at Robin’s on Sunday. I encourage people to come to Robin’s on Sunday if they want to get a clear picture of the depth and ending of the play,” says Usi.
Like the 2011 play Maloto a Farao, the new release is inspired by a biblical tale. The previous harnessed the Old Testament tale of Pharaoh consulting slave Joseph to interpret damning dreams of lean years as a way of imploring the powerful to respect even views of their least ranked subjects. The latest is based on Aaron’s children who were struck by an alien fire— a symbol of God’s wrath—because they could not wait for the promised flame from above.
For those that believe that the taste of the pudding is in the eating, the venue at Kwacha Roundabout is the place to go.