Police arrest Thlupego Chisiza for ‘Chasowa’ play

Chisiza: Under arrest

Freedom of expression continues to be trampled upon by the Mutharika regime as actor Thlupego Chisiza son of late theatre maestro Dunduzu Chisiza Jr was arrested Sunday for staging a play critical of the government.

The play SEMO which was co-written by slain student activist Robert Chasowa lampoons the DPP led governments handling of the economic, repressive laws that have retrogressed the country back to dictatorship and questions police role in stripping Malawians of their human rights.

Armed police arrested  Chisiza when he was performing the play with his  Lions Theater  in Blantyre claiming  Chisiza did not pass it to the Board of Classification for vetting, a claim the playwright dismissed as untrue.

A member of New Vision Youth Organisation, Chasowa, 25, reportedly dealt with the police until they failed to pay him K10 million (about $59 880) after helping to foil anti-government protests on August 17.

Thlupego says they wanted to play tribute to Chasowa, an engineering student, who he revealed was a dramatist, having co-authored and starred in Lions Theatre’s ninth play—The Repercussion.

Semo, a Moses-like leader who saved a historic nation from oppression  is set in the increasingly undemocratic Republic of Kwacha which is plagued by learned advisors who praise an increasingly oppressive king to safeguard their positions.

“We thought it was the dawn of peace, the end of long nights of assault, mornings of intimidation, days of subjugation, afternoons of fear [and] dusk of bereavement,” reads a line attributed to the late Chasowa as the reign of terror degenerates into rivers of blood.

The scene follows a freedom procession with revolutionary songs and placards: Zisinthe! Tatopa Ndi Congress! We Want Multiparty! It’s a throwback to pro-democracy protests in the early 1990s.

And as if foretelling the questions which overshadowed mourners at his burial, asks Chasowa in another part attributed to him: “Why did we gather at your compound last month?”

In the play they reply: “To mourn your son who had been killed in pursuit of freedom? Freedom swallowed him. The same freedom that made our sons and daughters martyrs.  Is this the freedom we chased the mzungu for?”

The play ends with a lesser message, “The tragedy of this period is not the loud shout of the bad leaders and praise-singers, but the awful silence of the good who are persistently suffering.”

The DPP government has placed informers in all sectors of society that people no longer feel safe to speak freely in a democracy.

“Arresting actors and performers show how insecure this government is, Malawians must come together and defeat these threats to human rights, freedom and liberty,” social-political activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire told Nyasa Times.

“ Performing arts in the country creates space where serious engagement with the social issues surrounding liberty, freedom, human rights can be addressed, art gives people inspiration, hope and determination, it is a medium where people can get empowerment,” Mkandawire added.

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