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May 19, 2023 | Events, Theatre,

A note on Nehanda

Tonight, you will witness a ritual retelling of the story of the Zimbabwean revolution – aided by the ancestral spirit of Nehanda. What you will see are two chapters excerpted from a 6-hour opus created by lead artist nora chipaumire. 

In the late 19th century, Nehanda’s medium was Charwe Nyakasikana, a heroic revolutionary leader, who orchestrated the first uprisings in British-occupied Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe’s colonial name) in 1896-97. Together with four comrades, she was captured, and after getting an expedited and unjust trial, executed by the British colonizers, who were so scared that they ordered her bones and the skull to be sent to the UK. 

When we begin onstage, our revolutionaries are readying themselves for war against the colonial forces of the British empire. They call the spirit of Nehanda to come and help them. Then, we witness the story of Charwe Nyakasikana’s (Nehanda’s) persecution and execution. The second half of the work is shared entirely in Shona, the language of the people of Zimbabwe. This language was used to circumvent any communication with colonial forces, living and spiritual.

Given the nature of this work, please note that the running time is variable, and could last beyond the 2 hours posted. The work intentionally engages repetition and durational practice in ways that may be new to some audience members. Bright lights will be used. Earbuds are available upon request. We encourage you to engage our usher staff with any needs, questions, or comments.

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