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Sep 6, 2022

Sesotho ha se tolokwe EMPA ke tla leka / A language cannot easily be interpreted, BUT I will try

E se e le makgetlo jwale ke bona dimaka tsa Fa o Fa Fi.

It has been a while now, witnessing the wonders of Playback Theatre.

Mokgwa wa tshwantshiso o fetolelang ditaba tsa bapheti ka ho panya hwa leihlo sethaleng.

A theatre form that transforms the teller’s stories into a theatrical experience instantly.

Kgweding ena ya lefa la botjhaba, moya wa ka o ntebisa tabeng tsa thlokomediso ka boemo ba ho ipolaya.

This heritage month, my soul directs me toward suicide awareness.

Le ho pheta ka tsa thibelo, tseo nkileng ka di bona, di etswa ke meqoqo ya sethaleng; e phetwa ka maleme a boikgethelo ba batho.

And would like to share about preventative measures I have witnessed, through the power of theatre, telling stories that are “ready to be told” in people’s preferred languages.

Ke tla pheta meqoqo e ileng ya sala moyeng wa ka ya tlisa phodiso le tshepo.

I will share about stories that stayed with me, and brought healing and hope in me.

Ka mora dilemo tsa ho ithuta molao, sekolong se seholo sa setjhaba, mopheti o ile a qoqa ditaba tsa ka moo puo e leng senotlolo se matla sa ho fana ka ditshebeletso bathong.

After years of studying Law at an institution of Higher Learning, the teller narrated how they have discovered languages as powerful keys in offering services in communities.

O ile a pheta hore ba lebeletswe ho sebetsana le setjhaba se hlokang ho utlwisisa molao, feela jwale malemeng a bona ho dutse Senyesemane. Are taba yeo e kgathatsa matla hoo a sa utlwisiseng na ha ho etswe phetoho ya thuto, ka puo yeo boholo ba setjhaba mona South Afrika se e utlwisisang, e se Senyesemane kapa Aforekansi.

She shared that as Law graduates, they are expected to work with communities that have minimal experience of interpreting the common law, and yet on the tip of their tongues sits English. She shared that she has found that to be such a hindrance and has been wondering if it could be possible that Law as a discipline could be taught in other South African languages that are not English or Afrikaans.

Yaba moqoqo o mong o pheta bothata ba hore ka lebaka la ho kena dikolo tse ikemetseng, moo a neng a sa dumelwe ho bua puo yah ae ya letswele ntle Senyesemane. Me taba ena ya bonahala e na le ho ama bana ka hore ba be le pherekano ya boitsebo le ho hlora, haholo ha malapa a kopane.

Another teller shared a story of conflicted identity due to being schooled in a private school, where they were not allowed to speak their mother tongue. The teller said they found it extremely lonely being if family gatherings where the expectation is to speak the mother tongue.

Boithuto ba dipuo South Afrika bo bontsha dipuo di bueha ka ho fapana. Mohlala, ke 10% feela ya batho ba buang Senyesemane, athe ba 26% ba bua seZulu ha ba 16% ba bua seXhoza, me ba 14% ba bua Aforekansi.

Research in South Africa suggests that a number of people speak diverse languages. For example, only 10% of the population speak English, while 26% of the population speak isiZulu, followed by 16% isiXhosa and 14% Afrikaans.

Ha kea fumana palo ya batho ba buang dipuo tsa mefuta ka nako e le ngwe. Jwalo ka motho a ka buang seZulu, seXhosa le Senyesemane. Kapa a hla a bua dipuo tse sehlopha ho kenyeletsa le puo ya matsoho.

I was not able to establish percentages of people who speak more than one language. For example a person who may speak isiZulu, isiXhosa and English. Or someone who could speak all the Official South African languages, including sign language.

Mohlala ebe kutlwisiso ya bona e tebile ha kae, le hore na ho bonolo kapa ho boima hakae ho itseba kapa ho ithlalosa, haholo tabeng tsa molao.

I wondered about their deep knowledge and nuances in relation to engaging on legislative matters or conflicted identities.

Ruri ha ke rate ho ama taba tsa botoloki dinyeweng tsa makgotla kapa dipoloting. Ntle le hore feela nkare ba tsebang puo tse ngata, ba kgona ho utlwa kapele ha ba sa tolokehe ka nepo, ebe ba lokisa boemo ka potlako, me hoo hwa hlabolla.

I really do not want to say anything about translations that take place during court proceedings or in political setups. Suffice to say those who know more than one language are quick to identify when they are being misinterpreted and are able to interpret themselves instantly. And it is always refreshing.

Empa jwale puo e ngwe e nang le ho lebaleha ke puo ya matsoho.

However, one language that we often forget about is sign language.

Mohlomong boholo ba rona re tla hopola kamoo setoloki Thamsanqa Jantjie a neng a re tlontlolle matjhabeng ka teng, mohlang moketeng o moholo wa pheheletso ya Ntate Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela ka la 10 Tshitwe 2013.

Perhaps the majority of us may recall how the sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, internationally humiliated  us during the memorial service of Ntate Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela on 10 December 2013.

Tsatsing leo, dinonyana di ne di dula batho, dibui di kenyeletsang moPresidente wa Amerika wa mehleng, Barack Hussein Obama. O ne a pake senatla seo sa Aforeka ka mesebetsi ya sona e tswileng matsoho, le pelo yah ae e neng e jewa.

On that day, there were multitudes of people who had come to pay their respect to the son of Africa. Speakers included the ex-President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, who attested to the Statesman’s deeds and Ubuntu.

A tswela pele ho bontsha hore Ntate Mandela o ne a ithute puo le meetlo ya bahatelli, e le hore ka letsatsi le leng, a tle a tsebe ho ba bontsha hore tokollo ya bona e matahane le tokoloho ya hae.

He went on to say that Ntate Mandela learnt the language and the customs of the oppressor, so that one day, he might better convey to them, how their freedom depended on his.

Ka nako yeo, ba tsebang puo, ba ileng ba kena dipakeng. Le jwale lenanehong la Sea-le-moya sa 702 le bitswang; what-in-the-world-happened-to-, ka la 27 Pudungwana 2014, Jantjie o ne a tlalehe e se e le sebapadi sa ditshwantshiso.

During that time, those who knew the language intervened. I must add that in one Radio 702 programme called what-in-the-world-happened-to-, aired on 27 November 2014, Jantjie said he was now an actor.

Taba ena e ntlisa dipabading tsa Fa o Fa Fi, le boikwetliso ba bona hore ba tle ba kgone ho pheta ditaba tsa bapheti.

This brings me to Playback Theatre players and the training they need to be able to play the stories of the tellers credibly.

Ke hopola sebapadi se seng se ntsebisa hore moqoqo wa motho ya lekileng ho ipolaya, feela yeo thlaho ya ngwana wa ausi wa hae e mo fileng tshepo ka teng, e ile ya mo katla. A utlwela mopheti. Empa a tlameha ho kgwaolla ka kgetsing ya Fa o Fa Fi hore a bapale.

I remember the story of one player who shared that the teller’s story of how the birth of her niece has given her hope after attempted suicides shocked her to an extend that she could not move. But had to draw from the form techniques to honour the teller stories.

Moghadi Luyolo Maphekola wa Sisonke National Arts Education e Makhanda, ena o ile a re o be a itletse tlele tshwantshisong a ipatlela monate “empa ka kgutla le monate wa mofuta o nang le phodiso le tshepo”.

One audience member Luyolo Maphekola of Sisonke National Arts Education Centre in Makhanda, said when he first got an invitation to attend the theatre, he was ready to be entertained. He said he was surprised because he walked out of the theatre both healed and entertained.

Ke ithutile hore leha botshwanshisi ba sethala bo sena boikemisetso ha ho ruta kapa ho fodisa, taba tsa thuto kappa phodiso di ya iketsahalla ka bo tsona.

I have since learned that theatre may not necessarily have any intentions to educate or heal, but the educational and therapeutic elements come naturally.

Tshepo ke yona yeo moya wa ka o fokelang teng, hore le bohloko boo e ka bang bo tlisitswe ke kgatello ya dipuo, re bo beheng powaneng re qoqeng ka bona, mohlomong leeto la pholo le tla qaleha.

Hope and a sense of wondering is what this month offers me. I wonder about the stories that may have never seen the light of day, and how theatre creates an opportunity for such stories to be heard.

Ha ho khonela hle, na o ka re phetelang ka moo botshwantshisi ba mofuta o fe kapa o fe bo tlisitsebg pholo kapa thuto ho wena? Ho ne ho etsahalang? Yaba?

If possible, I wonder if it could be possible for you dear members, to share about your theatre forms and the testimonies that have emerged. What was happening, and then what follwed?

Mohlomoho meqoqo e amanang le lefa la botjhaba kapa kelelliso ka taba tsa ho ipolaya. Ke ithutile hore maemo a itseng, a ka etsa hore motho a be le maikutlo a ho ipolaya, me ke ya tseba hore ditshwantshiso leha e ke ke yaba karabo, di ka tlisa thlasimollo e itseng, e ka tlisang ditaba tse ntjha tsa ho dudisanang mmoho ka kgutso.

Perhaps stories related to heritage and awareness around suicide. I have discovered that certain environments may lead us into contemplation of suicide and I know that theatre may not be the answer, but can surely awaken something that may bring a new story regarding our harmonious coexistence.

Lalu Mokuku ke Modulasetulo wa ASSITEJ SA, ebile ke setho sa komiti e kgolo ya Matjhaba ya ASSITEJ. Ke setho sa MEQOQO Playback Theatre Inspired Collective. O ngotse ditaba tsena ka maleme a mabedi ho keteka kgwedi ena.

Lalu Mokuku is the chairperson of ASSITEJ SA and Executive Committee Member of ASSITEJ International. She is a member of MEQOQO Playback Theatre Inspired Collective. She has written in both languages to honour her language heritage.

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