After tears

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Stemme | Voices | Amazwi is LitNet’s series of 15 short, powerful monologues written by established and upcoming playwrights, and presented in collaboration with Suidoosterfees, NATi and ATKV.

In Buhle Ngaba’s After tears, a young woman prepares to take the podium to make a speech at a state funeral. Buhle Ngaba performs the monologue, directed by Amelda Brand.

In this video, Buhle Ngaba and Amelda Brand discuss their approach to the production After tears.

After tears

A podium is a strange thing, innit? Le batho ba bang makatsa ha ke sa batle goaka (And these people are also incredibly confusing to me, if I’m honest). I’m sure batlile hela for dijo tsa pitlho (I’m sure they have just come for the food). Waitse after tears, ya lapisa? (You would think they are sick of after tears?) I stand next to Mama, kind of in awe of it all, you know. At least, that’s what I think I thought. I can’t be sure; I mean, you’ve seen one state funeral and you’ve seen them all. Am I right? Or maybe I just don’t remember that much of it because at that point, not even the four Grandpas and banana I had had for breakfast could distract me from my glaring headache.

There’s something that gets people addicted and crazy about it, you know – state funerals, I mean.

A huge crackle of madness that can be inspired only by a dead hero’s body and an avid nation. And man, oh, man, is South Africa an avid audience/nation.

Shu – nothing like a little braai and drama. I don’t know – even before I started having to attend all of my immediate family’s funerals and see glimpses of them played back in history lessons at school for the years following their deaths, I only started to get really uncomfortable with South Africa’s brand of media circus around the Hansie Cronjé court case era. I don’t know why – maybe it’s because the apartheid bullets hit too close to home. Literally.

Anyway, yeah, at ten years old, even I could recognise what being haunted looked like, and lemme tell ya, behind the TV screen, Hansie looked it. To a ten-year-old, it seemed like all the adults in the world saw it, too. I mean, they had to have been, because they were so obsessed with talking about it. For years after, even. Ooohs and aahs of shame. Special Assignment-worthy conspiracies about what had happened. Everyone always ready to turn on the TV, always ready to turn on the radio, always ready to eat Hansie’s shame whole – swallow it with a side serving of Spur chips and secret sauce.

From that point, the more I found out about my family, the less I wanted to know about them – terrified that we, too, were going to be exposed like that one day, naked and bare for a nation to pick apart.

That’s why I’m standing here, I guess. Not for them, the skittle rainbow nation; not even for her, I don’t think. I think I’m here for the living – for her. For my mother.

So that they don’t eat her like they ate Hansie.

Mari retlaring. (But I mean, what do we say?)


Stemme | Voices | Amazwi is supported by the National Arts Council.

Stemme | Voices | Amazwi is a New Writing project of LitNet and is supported by the LW Hiemstra Trust.

All the monologues are available here:

Stemme | Voices | Amazwi

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