Mpinganjira shed tears as Nanzikambe staged Mapanje memoirs

One of Malawi’s firebrand politicians, Brown James Mpinganjira, on Saturday evening shed tears as watched Nanzikambe Arts Theatre launching ‘And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night’, a 2012 thriller that rekindles Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda tyrannical rule.

The play, an adoption of Dr Jack Mapanje Memoirs and directed by Kate Stafford, set into life the struggle and incarceration of innocent citizens and the scars of pain during the tenure of Ngwazi Kamuzu.

Mpinganjira, the former minister and one of the victims of one party dictatorship, was clearly overcome with emotion when the torture and pain of one Mikuyu prison where he was detained together with Mapanje and other political prisoners was unpacked in the play.

Mpinganjira: Down memory lane

It was of no surprise to see him shedding tears as he recalled his past, digesting the story with bitter memories as the 8-man masterpiece set the realities into motion.

“As I watched the actors on stage I could not help by shed tears as I recalled the bits and pieces of prison life. The play tells a story that is part of Malawian history. And it helps the young generation to move in different direction,” Mpinganjira told Nyasa Times.

“It’s my hope that the story as shown in the play will cut us from the past and usher us into the future. What we need now is reconciliation to rebuild our country. The play narrates of the pain my family as well as other families went through,” said Mpinganjira.

With Misheck Mzumara acting as Jack Mapanje, Thlupe Chisiza, Maureen Mathala, Jafari Amidu, Huessen Ngopole, Dipo Katimba, Mphundu Mjumina and Aaron Ngalone who acted as Brown Mpinganjira, the one and half hour play depicted the ills of one party regime, the detention of its critics without trial while setting up a leaf or two the present could learn from and define its future.

The actors were marvel to watch and seem to have done good home work on their respective roles as they breathed life into the memoir, thrilling the audience in the end.

“This is a master piece as far as theatre is concerned. Such productions reflect on realities and have an advantage of telling the true life story. The characters in the play were perfect, it has good and powerful cast and it was skilfully directed that makes it a spectacle to watch,” commented ethnomusicologist Waliko Makhala.

‘And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night’ adopted by Kate Stafford of UK-based Bilimankhwe Theatre is expected to tour UK in July.

According to Stafford, the play is “something that tells the truth’ and that it is full of anger, rage and of course humour.

The play also incorporates some of Mapanje’s poems and is set to generate debate under issues of oppression and dangers of allowing leaders turning into dictators.

Nanzikambe performing the reality of incarceration in dictatorship

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