Twelve women, four crates and one noose will have you crying one second, rejoicing the next and crying all over again. Nhlanhla Mazibuko’s Women’s Liberation is an emotional musical journey through South African history, naming and depicting different women in the struggle for freedom over the years.
This production, which begins with the naming of some of South Africa’s most influential women during the struggle against apartheid, immediately involves the audience as we are asked to stand for the national anthem.
Once seated again, the audience is given a historical tour taking us from as early as 1931 –when the Bantu Women’s League was formed – all the way to 1992 when the first woman Anglican priest was ordained in Grahamstown. This exhilarating show uses dance, poetry and more than eight costume changes to depict the horrific injustices done to black people and women during apartheid.
The all-female cast has no trouble depicting a range of characters, from political activist Charlotte Maxeke, to apartheid hangman Chris Barnard. The show goes beyond the time
specified in the programme, a minor irritation all told.
Condensing a vital chunk of South African history into a brilliant 75-minute
production is a difficult task. For an emotional, interactive learning experience, grab a box of tissues and go see Women’s Liberation.
By Thandi Bombi