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Cadre at the Cultch highlights post-apartheid disillusionment in South Africa

02/23/2015 09:55 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT
A new play, Cadre, which opens at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre on Tuesday, is inspired by the true story of an anti-apartheid activist and the struggles he faces in post-apartheid South Africa.

The play was written by and stars South African writer and actor OmphileMolusi, who took inspiration from his uncle's experience of a revolution that, for many people, did not live up to expectations.

Growing up, Molusi said, he only saw his uncle as an alcoholic who was never taken seriously — until he asked him about his life as an anti-apartheid fighter.

"Only from then [did] I start seeing the real person he was and why he was in that kind of state," said Molusi.

Hope for a brighter future abandoned

His uncle explained that as someone fighting against apartheid, he and other members of liberation groups started to feel disillusioned when they had to negotiate with the apartheid government.

Many felt the terms being offered were unfair, and abandoned the process. 

The hope for the brighter future that Mandela had promised was already beginning to fall apart.

"Ever since then there's been a lot of disappointment and a feeling that this is not what we want, what we fought for," said Molusi.

Molusi thinks that although there have been improvements in some areas for black South Africans, many still have to fight for basic services like water, toilets and housing.

"That's not what that they had envisioned," said Molusi. "They thought the minute you get into power, everyone's going to get what they need."

Adapting political ideas for the stage

As a playwright, Molusi's biggest challenge was to convert those ideas for the stage. So he wrapped the broader notion of post-apartheid discontent around his uncle's personal journey.

When his uncle saw the play in South Africa, he was incredibly moved.

"It was like a magic night," said Molusi. "For the first time in his life he felt like people acknowledged his little contribution."

At the end of the performance audience members applauded his uncle and thanked him for his service.

"He came to me and said, at last I feel like a human being," said Molusi.

To listen to the full interview with Omphile Molusi, click on the audio labelled: New play highlights post-apartheid disillusionment in South Africa

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