No endorsement by foundation

NO MONEY: Martin Koboekae. Pic. Antonio Muchave. 31/05/06. © Sowetan.
NO MONEY: Martin Koboekae. Pic. Antonio Muchave. 31/05/06. © Sowetan.

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Novelist and playwright, Martin Koboekae is involved in a row with the Windybrow Theatre over his new play, Steve Biko: Where the soul resides.

The play was scheduled to be performed at the Windybrow from September 12 to 30. Its future is now uncertain.

The performance was to mark the 30th anniversary of Biko's death, but Koboekae's end-product did not meet criteria laid down by the Steve Biko Foundation.

Koboekae has accused the Windybrow of reneging on staging the play. This follows the refusal by the custodians of Biko's legacy, the Steve Biko Foundation, to endorse his play.

Koboekae says the foundation had been informed, but he could not get it to endorse the play.

"The foundation did not want to endorse the play because of certain things they did not like. They would have preferred me to base the play on I Write What I Like, a book on Biko's essays and commentary. But they did not have a problem with me doing the play because Biko was a public figure.

"Now the Windybrow is unwilling to stage the play without the foundation's blessing.

"Instead, they insist I co-produce the play with the Windybrow. What this means is that I put money on the table and bear the costs of staging the play with them. Where am I going to get the money? Why are they applying different rules to me? They do not apply the same rules when it comes to other playwrights?" asks Koboekae.

Nkosinathi Biko, head of the foundation and son of the Black Consciousness leader, says the foundation did not have a problem with Koboekae doing a play about his father.

"We held discussions with Martin to do a play based on I Write What I Like as part of the 30th anniversary of the death of Biko.

"After those initial discussions Martin came back with a different play from the one we had discussed. So it's not accurate to say we are not supportive. In fact, he can go ahead and do the play, but it's not the play we wanted as part of the anniversary celebrations," Biko said.

Windybrow artistic director Jerry Pooe says they would have loved to do the play with the blessing of the foundation.

Koboekae has published the highly acclaimed novel Taung Wells, and his second novel The Cleanser will be launched in a month's time. He also writes plays for SAfm, besides creating stage productions.