The cast of ‘OoMaSisulu’, from left, Chuma Sopotela, Faniswa Yisa and Indalo Stofile in a scene from the play
Image: Michael Pinyana

An all-black female cast paid a heartfelt tribute to anti-apartheid activist Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, in a moving hour-long play titled OoMaSisulu on Thursday evening at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg.

The play was originally written by legendary playwright Thembi Mtshali and internationally acclaimed writer Dr Sindiswa Magona.

Texts in the play were contextualised and adapted from Sisulu’s life-story, as captured in interviews she gave while still alive, and in MaSisulu’s biography, written by her daughter-in-law Elinor Sisulu.

“She ended up becoming not only a nurse by profession but to the country as a whole.”

 

The latest adaptation saw Faniswa Yisa, Chuma Sopotela and Indalo Stofile dramatically narrate Sisulu’s life from her time as a young girl of seven growing up in rural Eastern Cape villages, where she had to choose a Christian name from a list presented to her by missionaries at a local primary school.

She chose Albertina, the name she affectionately came to be known by.

It also gave the audience small but important glimpses into moments in Sisulu’s life, from the time of her high school education at Mariazelle in Matatiele, to the trailblazing 1956 women’s march which Sisulu spearheaded with struggle heroes such as Lilian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph.

The trio’s veneration of Sisulu, which incorporates song and dance, highlights the role played by women in the struggle years.

OoMaSisulu director Warona Seane told the Daily Dispatch that the play was a feminist and protest piece that captured the lives of women involved in the struggle who often went unseen and uncelebrated.

"What’s important about the play is that it shows how a village girl was roped into the politics of the times she lived in.

“She ended up becoming not only a nurse by profession but to the country as a whole.”

The play is a product of Mandla Mbotwe’s production company Mud and Fire.

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