In many African cultures, married women are scorned if they don’t bear children, sometimes even leading to a messy separation. But what happens when medical tests show that it is the man who is unable to father children?
This, and other stereotypes, are explored in Imbewu, a new play by young Gugulethu playwright, Sinethemba Twani.
Directed by respected theatre practitioner, Fatima Dike, the play will be staged at Artscape Theatre from Tuesday October 3 until Saturday October 7 as part of Artscape’s New Voices Programme.
Sizwe Msuthu plays the lead role of Sizwe, a successful taxi owner. As a rich businessman Sizwe, embarks on the unpleasant journey to find a second son to take over his businesses when he retires, only to discover that his 25-year-old son is not his biological child.
Medical tests show that he is barren and that he could not have fathered a child.
He then finds himself in the difficult situation of having to get answers from his wife, Nomzi, played by Nokuphumla Mabona who made a significant contribution to building the couple’s wealth.
The couple share the stage with Thembani Luzipho, who plays the comical character of Duna, a mechanic who financed Sizwe to start his business, with a promise of making him a shareholder. But that promise never materialised and Duna is left with little more than a spanner to fix the cars at his workshop, among which is Sizwe’s taxi.
And attempts to recover his money from Sizwe hit a brick wall. There are many twists and turns in the play, leaving the audience wondering how all that is going on will impact on Sizwe’s life. Will his wife divorce him or will he divorce his wife?
What about the 25-year-old son, whom he supported all his life and sent to a top university to study medicine?
According to Sinethemba, the play is his fourth and a continuation of his previous play, Beneficiary, staged at Artscape in 2011.
He said it explored difficult choices that young people made in their lives and consequences of their actions.
He said children often refused to follow their parents’ advice on key life decisions, in some cases, putting their families in difficult situations.
The 28-year-old said the play, in part, tells his own story. While his family wanted him to study medicine, he opted to stick to art. As a result of his decision he has had to work “extra hard” to make a living and support his family.
His play writing career has not been the success he hoped for and so he works as a petrol attendant to support his family.
“I don’t like what I am doing (working as a petrol attendant), but I have to show my family that I am man enough to support them,” said Sinethemba.
The show starts at 7.30pm daily. Tickets cost R50 each and are available through Computicket or Dial-A-Seat at 021 421 7695.