Furore over “Super Patriots and Morons”

HARARE - Zimbabwe's trigger-happy Board of Censors insists that the 2004 ban imposed on the political satire “Super Patriots and Morons” is still in force.

The play, which revolves around an ageing African dictator who does not want to give up power, was shown for two days last week to mark the re-launch of Theatre in the Park after four years on the sidelines.

Board of Censors secretary Isaac Chiranganyika told the Daily News on Sunday that the showing of Super Patriots and Morons by Theatre in Park was in breach of the ban which was imposed in 2004 because Section 19 (1) of the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act (Chapter 10:04) was still in effect.

“It is in breach of what they were supposed to do. The procedure is you submit your works and the board gives you a response.

“They made a resubmission but they went ahead and showed the play without a response from the board,” said Chiranganyika.

The Board of Censors secretary conceded that Rooftop Promotions-the owners of Theatre in the Park-reapplied to have the “Super Patriots and Morons” ban rescinded but he insisted that the late response from his board did not justify showing the play without the relevant authority.

“What they did was make a submission of the script which was supposed to be seen by all seven board members. Then last week they came with seven scripts which the board are still reviewing.

“When they came on the day we advised them that the Act was still in place and the board was still reviewing the script,” he said.

Chiranganyika refused to reveal the action they would take as a result of the breach by Theatre in the Park.

“The response is not given through the press. I don’t know what the board is going to do about it as I am just a secretary. They (Rooftop Promotions) will get the answer from the board when it is done with reading the script,” said the Board of Censors secretary.

Rooftop Promotions director Daves Guzha said they the late response prompted them to go ahead with the staging of the play.

“We approached them three weeks ago with the script. We then had to provide additional scripts for the board members to go through them but we still did not get a response up to the day we staged the play.

“The reason we went ahead and showed the play is that we had already advertised it and we had to show the play,” said Guzha who is also part of the play’s current cast that also includes Jasen Mphepo, O’Brien Mudyiwenyama, Mandla Moyo and actress Eunice Tava

Super Patriots and Morons was first performed in Harare at the original Theatre in the Park that was in the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) in 2003 with a cast that had Guzha, Mphepo, Mudyiwenyama, the late Mackay Teekays and Eyarah Mathazia.

The play ran for two weeks successfully at the old Theatre in The Park and was later performed in all of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces. This resulted in over 400 performances being staged, with a minimum of 40 performances being held in each province.

In the 10 provinces, the play’s cast was made up of local actors who were identified and trained to that effect.

Given the food and fuel shortages that were beginning to bite then, it was not surprising that the play resonated powerfully with people across Zimbabwe.

When “Super Patriots and Morons” returned to Harare in 2004, for a high-profile staging at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), the Board of Censors moved in to ban the play.

After the2004 ban, the organisers of the play shifted their focus to regional and international audiences. The play’s first date outside Zimbabwe was in July 2004 at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa where it became the f irst Zimbabwean play to be performed at that venue.

Super Patriots and Morons, which was  turned into a film in 2007,was then moved to  African countries such as Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia and European countries that included United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The play’s first stint at the Edinburgh Festival in 2007 earned it the Freedom of Expression Award.

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