Monday, May 16, 2011

The footprints of creation

The workshop over, I had a weekend in Botswana with David and Adala, before a "planning for the future" meeting on Monday morning, and the long flight home. Currently blogging in Johannesburg airport, which is not such a terrible place as airports go, but hardly the most inspiring place to be for five hours. They charge colossal sums for internet access, so I'm determined to use every minute I paid for!

On Saturday night, we were back at Maitisong, where the workshop took place. This time we were in the audience for a Punjabi community event. I had no idea there could be so many Sikhs in Gabarone. All ages too - from babies to grandmothers. They had brought over a performance group from India (via South Africa), who were very good. The first half of the show involved martial arts - the highlight being the smashing of a coconut on a man's head by a blindfolded performer armed with a club. "Don't try this at home", they told us. The second half was bangra, with lots of noise and bling - and this was the part of the show which led to the spontaneous audience participation. Young men whooped and leapt on one side of the stage, and little girls on the other. As the local women started to dance, the little girls, who seemed to have learnt the moves while their mummies practiced, invaded the stage, only to be shooed away by an irate professional. It was all totally anarchic and wonderfully affirmative of community. We even got curry included in the ticket price.

Sunday morning saw a tour of the touristy sites in the area of Gabarone. Most exciting of these was probably the ancient rock art at Matsieng - where there are footprints which the Tswana say are those of the first man. Given that humanity did indeed originate not far from here, and that this is a very beautiful place, I was happy to credit it as the Garden of Eden.

I've really valued David's friendship during my time in Botswana. It's rare to find somebody you "click" with quite so instantly, and who has such a wealth of life experience and theatre knowledge that he is so willing to share. His stories of life in Malawi during the last days of the dictatorship are at once thrilling and terrifying.

Before the airport this morning, we sit down with Jane and talk about what we can do to develop links further. I'd be very excited to work in Botswana again, of course - and I think we can be of use to them in terms of developing the infrastructure for a company that Jane is so keen to create. There are certainly lots of possibilities in these new links!

No comments: