Girls go through much. A dance production by Mophato Dance Theatre entitled Thari that premiered on Tuesday during the Maitisong Festival at Maruapula highlights some of the issues that affect women, especially Batswana women, in a more touching way.
Choreographed by the talented Andrew Letso Kola and an all-women cast, Thari is a poignant girl story that most Batswana ladies would relate to. The production features some of the most brilliant dancers including, Lone Motsumi, Mamello Magabo, Stephanie Keitumetse, Karabo Mpai, Makgotso Gaseitsewe, Lesego Molefi, Boitumelo Mphusu and Phenyo Oaitse.
Poet, Anita Mmakgosi Tau provides a narration of the play with some powerful words about the plight of women in our society, while the amazing songstress Pesalema Motshobi and Lesedi Oitshepile add their haunting and, at times, shrieking cries to the soundtrack.
The band is all-male featuring saxophonist Andrew Chinyaga. His sax hits the high notes with the women’s cries. There is also Mokgweetsi ‘Skit’ Kabomo on the African drums. Their beats later in the play deliver a chilling sound- effect of abusive beatings- in one of the scenes.
Multi-talented vocalist and percussionist, Ntireleng Berman is also a member of the band together with Tshepo Tshipe on the drums and Tumelo Mafoko on the keyboards. In one of the scenes performed by Stephanie Keitumetse, the dance shows a story of a young woman going through her journey of love in marriage. It shows other women bearing the weight for their married friend until things get so bad that they all quit on her.
Another powerful scene is by the amazing dancer, Lone Motsumi, which tells a story of abuse and rape in a relationship. Motsumi is seen inundated with blows delivered in the form of sound effects from Kabomo’s drums to a point where she is bound by a black rope.
The scene then moves into the most heartbreaking part of the dance depicting rape. Motsumi gives the act her whole emotions. Still in bondage, she lies on her back with legs wide open, like it is both birth and rape all happening at the same time.
With the help of other girls, she later rises from her torment and other girls free her from the bondage.
Together the girls, Motsumi rises up with an ‘Amandla’ clenched fist of triumph as she faces her abuser. The poet, Mmakgosi gives her some much needed courage, saying, “Remember to embrace the phoenix in you” until she manages to chase her abuser.
At the end, the girls come together and take off their long flowing dresses for some tight and short dancing outfits to perform the beautiful and sensual moves that manage to uplift and relief the pain from the crowd. Looking from the reception and standing ovation on Tuesday, Thari is a powerful story that could add another voice in the plight of women in our society.
According to the Mophato Marketing Manager, Kealeboga Motsumi, “Thari comes from one of the most celebrated idioms ‘Mosadi ke Thari ya Sechaba’, which simply means that women are the nurturers and pillars of a nation.
“Thari is sets to become one of the most relevant storylines that advocates for women. It’s a spectacular story for women by women.”