Thaba bosiu was inspired by my journey to Lesotho in search of my father. I was meeting him for first time ever since my birth. The emptiness I felt for many years was what motivated me to embark on this search. After my mother’s death, I had unsolved questions about my identity. My maternal family the Bataung clan raised me. There were certain gaps I felt in my upbringing. At times, I felt misplaced with the Bataung clan. I had a deep yearning to find my roots. I then embarked on the search to investigate the Bafokeng clan, which is paternal lineage. This search was in alignment with the Southern Sotho beliefs, which state that a child belongs to his/her paternal family – especially a boy child whom could be the carrier of the family name and legacy.
After been blessed with a daughter, shifted my paradigm regarding my understanding of fatherhood. Having experienced not having a father figure in my life first hand, I consciously wanted to change her experience. To avoid her path being similar to that of which I had to go through. It is through the tale of Thababosiu that I started to interrogate how the absence of my father impacted me. Thababosiu deals with the issues of culture, traditions, customs, Christianity and ancestral beliefs. The protagonist Mohale is the lens of which the narrative unfolds, as he ventures into Thababosiu to connect with his father Masimphana.
In the context of post-colonial South Africa, men are still battling with issues of masculinity and identity. There is an ongoing trend of fatherless homesteads, which still prevails. The discourse of Thababosiu explores those issues, which I myself have also been affected by. My research consists of oral events and written text such as ‘A grain of wheat’ by Ngūgī wa Thiong’o, deals with the Christian gospel, the pillar of western culture, used to justify European imperialism in Africa (Ngugi, 1967). The ancient Sesotho prayer Modimo ha ko utloe kea rapela, modimo o mocha rapela oa khale, o re rapelle ho o moholo Jere mojari oa di tshito tsa rona. The prayer is being used at the graveyard scene where Mosimphana introduces his son Mohale to his ancestors. The belief has always been that, the ones who are departed are close to God and we knew God as Africans. Indaba, my children by Credo Mutwa “These are the stories that old men and old woman tell to boys and girls seated with open mouths around the spark wreathed fires in the centres of the villages in the dark forest and on the aloe scented plains of Africa (Mutwa, 1964:1). African storytelling follows a convention of its own as it is greatly influenced by oral storytelling and the olden setup. Hence, I have changed the configuration of my venue into Thrusts stage and the burning fire.
Lithoko tsa marena a Basotho poems (Mangoaela 928:4-12). Theatrically exploring ways of storytelling in the African context, using the ancient written and spoken language of Southern Sotho. The conversations that happens between Mohale and his father Masimphana is in Sesotho, which expresses the timeless beauty of the language. Thababosiu explores indigenous sounds of traditional music, dance and instrumentation of the Basotho people. Creating soundscapes using stick fighting and adding the sound of a lesiba as an approach to employing black esthetics. Which are beautifully blended with the traditional Sesotho attire painting an exciting image creating living sculptures out of actors’ bodies. The heavy use of English between Mohale and his wife echoes the big influence of European imperialism. The combination of the two world reflects on how we lose our identity on daily basis by continually conforming to the conventions and systems of western world-view. Looking at the character of Mohale, we witness how he struggles to relate to his own true roots from the barriers of the western influence.
The use of miniature furniture was inspired by Motshabi Vice Monageng on “Eyes and Sites” (National Arts Festival 2005). I just want to explore how miniature furniture can relate with the body of an actor. Exploring what images may be generated. The notion of identity preservation may be referenced from “The Zulu” 2013, which premiered at The Market Theatre by Mbongeni Ngema. He tells the tale of the Zulu warriors during the times of Shaka. As they have fought for their identity and their land during the Napoleonic wars between 1815-1910. I have explored this notion with King Moshoeshoe who was never recognized in African history. I found the combination of indigenous games and Maskopas ghetto snack interesting to explore graphic images of sexual content. When I explore black esthetics, I had imagined a Wonderful fusion of traditional music, indigenous instruments, classic/modern instruments, spoken language and indigenous games like Marabaraba and stick fighting. My vision is to explore who we as Black People were post-coloniality and how has that had an impact on our lives.
Thababosiu interrogates the influence of Eurocentric philosophies as an intervention towards African ancestral practice that has been existing for many moons. We get to understand the issues of these interventions through the character of Mohale whom finds himself between a spiritual warfare, culture, Christianity and African customs as the tale unfolds. However there some of the words in the prayer that confirm Eurocentric as an agency in African religion which must be completely removed from the prayer. Molimo o atla limaroba, lirobakiloe keng lirobakiloe ke ho re shoela. The underlined words are evident that the prayer was never complete without Jesus and his death; they are significant that the Europeans duty was to enslave black people while claiming civilization through colonialism. In Thababosiu we understand the complexity of religion through MmaPaballo who finds herself following Christianity as a result of misinterpretation of African religion due to the multitudes of those who never wanted to associate themselves with what was regarded barbaric, a wrong perspective and very deceiving.