Local Child abuse play traverses the world

HARARE - Veteran actress Getrude Munhamo has been pleasantly surprised by how her play, “Lamentations @ 12,” the first and only one she has written, is generating “unimaginable interest” in many diverse countries.

The play, which puts the spotlight on the sexual, physical and emotional abuse inflicted on the girl child, has to date been showcased in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and French-speaking Mali.

Lamentations @ 12, whose cast is made up of Munhamo and Dalma Chiwereva, will soon be embarking on a three-month-long European tour.

“We will perform in five towns in the United Kingdom and we will also tour Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland and several more countries on that continent. Later on we will also take the play to Senegal, Gabon and Morrocco,” Munhamo told the Daily News on Sunday.

She added that the play was continuing to gain traction in spite of cultural and linguistic diversity due to its focus on a scourge rampant all over the world.

“The abuse of the girl child cuts across the whole world. That is why the play getting increasing interest all over the world. This rampant abuse mostly takes place in a context blighted by poverty, lack of education, tradition and culture,” said Munhamo, who credited the play’s director/producer Daves Guzha for encouraging her to write Lamentations @ 12.

“I had had this idea for years and I shared it with Daves Guzha. I asked him to find someone who could write the play for me since I had never written any play before.

“Daves being Daves refused and said "you write your own story". At first I wrote some monologues because I initially wanted Lamentations @ 12 to be a one -woman show but Daves pushed me to write a full play,” said Munhamo.The Lamentations @12 playwright began writing the play in 2014.

“I completed the script two years later after a lot of rewrites and corrections with the help of Daves. It was hard for me but through encouragement and lots and lots of research I managed to pull through. I also sought the advice of some of good playwrights in our industry.

“I also benefitted from attending mentorship classes at Heartfelt International ministries (founded by Tavonga Vutabwashe) which focus on various aspects of creative skills. The classes made me make up my mind that I had to create something of my own,” Munhamo said.

She explained why the play focuses on the year 12.

“I chose the number 12 because that is the age when children are graduating from the age of innocence to adolescents.  At this age, hormones are beginning to get active and the mind of the child is maturing into the teenage stage.

“At this point the children are not yet sure how to separate right from wrong, whether or not to report to their parents this or that; they are not even sure about themselves and how to handle various issues and circumstances that befall them,” the playwright explained, adding that men take advantage of this age of innocence to abuse the girl child.

“According to some statistics three children at this age are being abused every hour right here in Zimbabwe.  With such frightening statistics what kind of a generation are we expecting to have in the near future?  A disturbed one for sure,” said Munhamo.

The playwright hopes the Lamentations @12 will make people discard some cultural practices used to perpetuate the abuse of the girl child.

“I wrote the play in my bid to establish why certain things keep happening-child marriages, child trafficking, ngozi, chiramu etc.

“All these affect the girl child and mostly juveniles who are 15 and below. So I wanted answers and seeing that no one would offer answers, I decided to then tell the story of abuse from the eyes of a 12 year old. What they go through at that very age of innocence, and how our traditional beliefs, cultural practices, religious acts, poverty, lack of education, greed, pride and egotistical tendencies have led to the use and abuse of the girl child,” she said.

Lamentations @12 director-cum-producer Guzha has lauded Munhamo for coming with a play that appeals to diverse publics.

“I believe it is doing well because the story is universal and most importantly it is moving between childhood stories and games to adulthood. Everyone and different people can relate to that,” he said.

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