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Play portrays Biko's human side

By unknown | Aug 24, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Steven Bantu Biko, the iconic father of black consciousness, is to be seen in another light.

That will be when novelist and playwright Martin Koboekae stages his play Biko:Where the Soul Resides next month.

And he says his controversial play is the result of extensive research he did on the Black Consciousness Movement leader, and not something he "dreamt up from the blue".

Koboekae will stage the play at the Market Theatre on September 12 after his attempt to stage it at Windybrow Theatre was turned down.

Windybrow decided not to touch the play after it turned out that the custodians of the Biko legacy, the Steve Biko Foundation, could not give its blessings.

Koboekae believes his play is not a sanitised representation of Biko. "He was not as astute and infallible as some would want us to believe. Like any young leader of his time, he attracted all sorts of individuals, and the culture of excessive drinking, promiscuity and general youthful indiscretions was unavoidable," he argues.

The play was first commissioned and later disowned by the Biko Foundation. The foundation said recently the playwright failed to meet the commissioning brief. Poet Masoja Msiza takes on the role of Steve Biko.

Koboekae says his play is not a history lesson or political rally.

"In essence, it attempts to show us the man behind the icon. Without trivialising, misrepresenting and devaluing the sacrifices and achievements of Biko, we are trying to capture the essence of Biko as a man, father, son, lover, community and political activist who was prepared to sacrifice his life for the advancement of his fellow students, colleagues, community and humanity in general," says Koboekae.

Nkosinathi Biko, son of Steve Biko and chief executive of the Steve Biko Foundation, said earlier anyone was free to stage a play about Biko.

Koboekae is the author of the novel Taung Wells and other theatrical works.


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