Text: Culture Reporter
Photograph: Supplied

Excitement was palpable at the 26th Zwakala Festival when Eqhudeni was announced as the 2018 winner of the Festival.

Eqhudeni is co-written and directed by Nomfundo Magwaza ka Ziqubu, Ntando Ngcungama and Nokwethemba Ngcobo. Eqhudeni joins a long list of productions that have come from the Festival to have a successful season at the Market Theatre and beyond. The last three successive winning productions are Isithunzi (2015), TAU (2016) and Dikakapa (2017).

Loud applause broke out in the packed Mannie Manim Theatre on Sunday 11 November 2018 when the judges made the 2018 announcement. The judges for the 2018 Zwakala Festival were award-winning director Dom Khayelihle Gumede, the Standard Bank Young Artists recipient for Dance Sonia Radebe and award-winning actress Linda Sokhulu.

The four finalist productions in the Festival, Whats was is no more, Eqhudeni, The Pilgrimage and Ibala, came from across Gauteng to showcase their talent over the two days 10 – 11 November 2018. The top four productions were selected from the eight productions that were presented at the Kolapeng showcases that took place during August.

“The Festival has continuously managed to attract emerging young writers and young artists who incorporate and embrace different art forms in their work. This was again evident in this year’s top four”, said Zama Buthelezi, the Market Theatre Foundation’s Brand & Communications Manager. “The productions were presented in predominantly African indigenous languages. It was a treat for the audiences who responded with ululation and accolades as the actors delivered the languages with precision, she added.

In Eqhudeni a young woman is forced into an arranged marriage with a rich man whom she despises. She faces difficult challenges as she navigates her feelings between her arranged spouse and the love of her life. Family dynamics provide a gripping drama that will raise questions and evoke the curiosity of audiences.

This production is written in poetic and mesmerizing isiZulu. Its universal story transcends cultural barriers. It gives voice to the voiceless women who are forced into arranged marriages. The true dynasty of isiZulu culture is stylistically brought to life with superb design and vibrant musicality.

Eqhudeni will make its professional premiere at the Market Theatre for limited season from 30 November – 16 December 2018.