Puppet Show with Assitej and Emafini

PUPPET SHOW: Folk tales Revisited

Red Earth Revisited, a puppet show created by a Dutch puppet theatre company, Speel Theater Holland Studio, illustrating the story of Nonqawuse. This is the story of young Xhosa prophetess Nonqawuse, whose prophesy is said to have led to the downfall of the Xhosa nation in the Eastern Cape. According to the history books, the invasion of the British had left people weak with no positive hope for the future.


Teaming up with ASSITEJ South Africa, Speel Theater Holland Studio recreated the story of Nongqawuse, the young girl who prophesied that the Xhosa would be rid of their enemies if they killed their cattle and burned their grain in the mid-19th century. A migratory stork is the narrator in this revisiting of the story to determine if she really was the cause of the disaster that ensued.


Through the support of Xolisa Ngubelanga, the Calabash Trust Creative Thought facilitator, the children of Emafini and their parents were given an opportunity to see the show at the Athenaeum Little Theatre. Xolisa has been teaching the classes after school, as an extracurricular activity, the art of creating puppets and presenting a puppet show at school. His aim is to leave this process at the school and hopefully have it as a yearly resource to be performed at the school as part of the art program. In the class the children were given a task to create scripts and using everyday materials to create puppets.


“I made the decision to create a puppet show that will exist as a yearly exercise by Gr 6s for Emafini foundation phase pupils. Text had to be written and scripts were created in the process of script writing the members were divided into groups and in their groups they had to agree on the dialog. Issues of language arouse when crafting dialog spilling into questions on identity and literature. Team work and collective effort was emphasized as a method to achieve the product a puppet show. The kids are paces ahead of me at puppet making not even allowing for direction on the many methods of puppet making they are instead inventing their own ways in excitement,” said Xolisa Ngubelanga.

Wickersly from the UK, as part of their visit at Emafini, were excited to join the students and parents on the outing to go watch Red Earth Revisited. Having had a snap shot of their own as to how the art of creating puppets work, it was exciting to see the children enjoying the story line as most could relate to having been told the story growing up as an old folk tale.

“It was fantastic because it was my first time, it was the day of my life” Azola Mti

“We went there, we were excited to go to the show we did not know that the show would be that beautiful but now I know more about our nation and the Xhosa nation” Aphelele Stokwe Gr 6D.

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