EMSINI strikes savagely at a sore point in post-apartheid South African culture. Its commentary focuses on the generational shift in consciousness between the heroes of the Mandela era and a particular section of the youth of the next generation: those who grew up amidst the height of the country’s violence but were left disillusioned after the struggle was won and the dreams of a better life remained unfulfilled. By the light of the play (the title of which translates to ‘Smoke’ in English) the situation is bleak and disturbingly close to an unnerving trend of violence that, two decades after the ‘New’ South Africa was born, is at odds with the ideal of South Africa’s hard won freedom.
“We used to fear our oppressors, but now we fear our own children,” laments the play’s elderly protagonist, Daniel. A reclusive well-read man who is struggling to understand the lack of discipline displayed by the youths in his community.