The Accused Play steals the limelight at HIFA
Conceptualised and facilitated by Sierra Leonean Patrice Naiambana the play is about an exiled African who is trying to make ends meet after fleeing the mother continent, illegally settling in a foreign land to fend for a family back home.
The African immigrant is inundated with demands from home (Zimbabwe) where his girlfriend, Rose, who has a mentality that life in the UK is like a bed of roses. She asks her boyfriend to send her money to pay for the family’s exorbitant bills that include water, electricity and for her education as well as her sibling’s fees.
In a ‘lies and deceit’ scenario Rose’s boyfriend cannot tell her girlfriend that life in the UK is difficult but continues to pretend life is fine. He is arrested for engaging in shady deals.
The play talks about how immigrants are forced to change their way of life and seeking asylum in to avoid deportations. Many in their minds never expect hard times that lie ahead in a foreign land which they refer to as the “land of the free.”
“It is a mission of every African to go to England,” Naiambana says talking to himself in the play.
The Accused engages the audience with laughter showing hardships that Zimbabweans face every day.
It tells of how educated Zimbabweans even those with doctorates end up working as street wardens or cleaners but it also tells of the freefalling life in a developed countries.
Although the diasporas are pained at times with life in the UK, they live in a country without electricity cuts or water cuts. And of course they repatriate money back home through money transfer agencies like Western Union.
Back home, the play shows the hardships that locals go through every day. Set up on a scene where almost every Zimbabwean is a vendor selling anything from pirated music, vegetables, and airtime.
The Accused takes in humour policies like the indigenisation policy which forces all foreign owned companies must cede 51 % of their shares to locals. Actors in the play from a shoe polisher on a street corner to a vegetable vendor even dream of owning multi-national companies or diamond mines.
Cultural and religious questions are raised that include issues like homosexuality and how Presidents in Africa beg for aid when they are chauffeured in expensive cars while the nation suffers in poverty.
Naiambana is assisted in his play by Zimbabweans who include Bob Tafadzwa, Rejoice Simango, and Pamela Gonye among others.
The Play is sponsored by the British Council and Kathryn Hunter Development support from Birmingham Rep theatre. HIFA an arts and entertainment festival began on May 01 and ends on May 06. Several local and international artists will showcase at the festival. Senegal musician Ismael Lo is the main act for this year’s festival.