11 October 2018

South Africa: Zakes Mda's Play 'You Fool, How Can the Sky Fall' Exposes Our Insatiable Need for a Leader


It is evident that throughout history there have been far more bad leaders than good. Those who attempt to live up to the moral and ethical ideals of society are so rare that we cling to them feverishly when they appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to lead. And yet with so many bad examples of leaders and with the current zeitgeist of populism brought back by history's cyclical movement, Zakes Mda interrogates the reason we keep searching, tirelessly, for a leader.

It is honest criticism that artistic director James's Ngcobo's current stage adaptation of Zakes Mda's 1995 play, You Fool, How can the Sky Fall, currently showing at the Market Theatre, commits some minor plot errors, as it is "needlessly ambiguous" at times and the "gender-switched casting" makes the dialogue a bit confusing.

But what the play does so well is to display in full view the pretentious and corruptible nature of representative democracy, as well as expose our need to be led by someone -- and often, anyone will do.

The play is set in an unnamed African country shortly after a revolution or a negotiated settlement --...

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