Tsepo wa Mamatu

Theatre Director

Among the most memorable scenes at President Jacob Zuma's meeting with artists late last year was theatre director Tsepo wa Mamatu standing up, grabbing the microphone, and telling the president that he shouldn't prescribe what artists should do. This confrontation with power would have come as no surprise to those who have followed Wa Mamatu's work over the years � he is establishing himself as a political dramatist who doesn't back away from the most current and pressing political questions of the day.There is something of Allan Bold's prescriptive view of the artist in his youthful energy and pugilistic demeanour. "Our job is to try/To change things./After Hiroshima/You ask a poet to sing?� 100% Zulu Boy, his 2006 drama about the intrigues of South African politics, was followed by Stompie, a drama based on the life of Winnie Madikizela Mandela, with echoes of the murdered Stompie Moeketsi. His play, Mbeki and Other Nitemares, premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown last year and played at the Wits Theatre. Naturally Wa Mamatu is not without his critics, and some have dismissed the Mbeki work as a tearstained apologia from those who pine for Thabo Mbeki. Mark Gevisser, Mbeki's biographer, described the play as "an unsettling mix of two genres: in part a biographical narrative of Thabo Mbeki's life, in part an acute satire of contemporary South African politics � . A book, Laughing at Blackness: Leon Schuster and the Colonizing Laughter, partly based on his master's thesis, was recently published by a German-based publisher. �Percy Zvomuya

Lunch spot: Narina Trogon, Braamfontein, Johannesburg