The dancer, choreographer and activist Mamela Nyamza has caused quite a stir on the international scene for a number of years now. She consistently places her personal biography as a black African lesbian mother within the general debate about the failed rainbow nation of South Africa, where racism and machismo are both regaining strength along with the divisions between high and tribal culture and between different linguistic and tribal regions. Instead of rapprochement, reconciliation and the exchange of views, this remarkable artist born in Cape Town in 1976 detects greater compartmentalization, stricter racial separation and a climate of fear now exerting a firm grip over a national that was once a model of the post-colonial idea.
In her new work Black Privilege, whose performance here at PACT Zollverein in Essen will be the first outside South Africa, Mamela Nyamza focuses her attention on the hypocritical structure underlying our societies in which everyone is permanently judged and pre-judged. Switching back and forth between a ritual in which she summons up various aspects of strong women and a court process in which powerful figures are held to account for their horrific deeds, Mamela Nyamza blurs the boundaries between spirituality and the law. Rejected and unrecognized heroines of the African struggle for independence are brought back to life, judged and perhaps also celebrated.
"Black Privilege looks at how you can be celebrated, but still be crawling on the floor. How you can have a PhD, but still be unemployed. It was partly inspired by unthanked heroes like Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and it is essentially asking questions" (Mamela Nyamza)
English and Xhosa with German surtitles
Choreography, Dance: Mamela Nyamza
Stage Design, Video, Light: Wilhelm Disbergen
Dramaturgy: Sello Pesa