Kiu, the Swahili word for thirst, was epitomised in the dance work of the same name. This play symbolises what water does for human society: it’s not just how to quench thirst, but it also helps nurture love, friendship and life.
The dancers’ movements portray conflict and show how confusion causes chaos and delusion. Answers for such things are usually searched ritually from ancestors. But Kiu also demonstrates that everyone wants to help, though not everyone will want to put in the work required to save them and get the water. The thirst is evidence of instability, that everyone wants to help themselves first before helping others.
The live music and instruments added a vital ambience to the play. The harmonies and the flow of the music was ritual-based along with thunder and lightning, symbols of bad luck, desperation, commotion and unhappiness among the people.
The South African State Theatre production deserved its standing ovation from an audience involved in helping them stop the drought. Ultimately, though, this is a soul-searching story that asks: how far will people go with this hunger for power, and are they willing to help others in the process?
by Hlamvu Yose