Zimbabwe is endowed with all sorts of minerals and natural resources that, as indigenous people, we have failed to exploit, knowingly or unknowingly, until someone comes to mine them for their own benefit.
In most cases the people who own the land are left begging, and even poorer than they would have been, had they known they were sitting on a gold mine. Our human and material relationships are at conflict with each other.
Such is the scenario the Zinyemba family finds itself in the play, "Diamonds in his Son's Grave," when they learn that their late son Munyaradzi's grave contains diamonds and the only way for them to get rich is to destroy it and make way for a new diamond mine.
Charles Mature who plays Chituro "Shumba' Zinyemba, who, together with his wife, played by Of diamonds and the dead Priscilla Mutendera, are adamant their son's grave, together those of their relatives, should not be destroyed to make way for a diamond mining operation.
On the other hand, Chiedza, their daughter (Getrude Munhamo) and her husband (Tinashe Chirisa) rope in Solomon, her brother, on their side - this after a generous flow of drinks at the village bottle store. Teddy Mangawa brilliantly plays the part of a drunken Solomon who would do anything in his power to convert the family's heritage into cash.
But no sooner had the family, now embroiled in bitter conflict, had resolved the matter, than a letter informing them that their piece of land had been bought as a mineral claim by a more powerful individual is delivered to them. It is only then that they realise they have all been duped by diamond seekers
Shumba vows to fight on with the help of the spirit medium, Mbuya Nehanda, until all those with insatiable greed for wealth rest in their graves. The play ends with a lot of questions unanswered.
The energy that is exuded in the play by the seasoned actors is a reminder of what is currently happening in Zimbabwe today. Families that were relocated from their rural villages in Chiadzwa and Marange in Manicaland to make way for the Chinese and other multinational diamond consortiums are yet to realise whether they made the right decision or not after being forced to move out of their rural homesteads.
Likewise, new land invasions are now taking place, dislocating the less powerful, economically and politically. As one member of the audience put it, "Families were removed from Chisumbanje from a land controlled by five families in 1992 to make way for ethanol refinery plant. Now the about a few handfuls want to control the whole venture, including the nearby Save Conservancy."
Veteran script writer, Stephen Chifunyise, could not help but agree with some of the sentiments being expressed by the audience during the post-show question time. Without mincing words, he did point out that the play's setting could have been anywhere in Zimbabwe with the same characters depicting the current decade being brought in by the so-called investors in mining and other resources the country is blessed with.
"By material resources we don't mean diamond only, there could be more. It could be our cultural heritage and our"
Rooftop director Daves Guzha concurred as he thanked the artists for exhibiting such as thought-provoking performance. Special mention, however, did go to the director of the play, veteran stage actress now turned director, Eunice Tava.
Tava has bagged two NAMA Awards for her superb stage performances in previous encounters and for directing Election Day and Colours of Dreams. She could not hope for anything better than directing "Diamonds in his Son's Grave" for the first time at Theatre in the park.
The play premiered on Tuesday this week and runs on until October 20.