Spotlight on Performing Arts with JOHN KAPESA
SEE what; I met Albert Chileshe in Kitwe a week ago who temperamentally described the Zambian theatre scene as having lost its way without high schools getting involved.
“Schools are not doing plays, in addition, where they are, they are not performing plays that inspire and align our culture to the future and the gloom leadership roles. In the olden days, through plays, we learnt a lot of things, and drama was always exciting,” Chileshe said.
He explained that it was only in schools where everything can start, be revived and inspired if Zambian theatre and the film industry were to develop and grow.
He recalled with nostalgia how after his academic education at Mukuba Secondary School, he went to Kitwe Teachers Training College, where a talented lecturer he only remembered as Lukanganyama produced “The Last Chance” in which he acted as the Prince who eloped with the king’s daughter and was brought to justice when caught.
“The stories echoed many lessons, but for my role in ‘The Last Chance’ it was against deceiving and taking decisions on the spur of the moment,” he said.
Agreeably, young people without proper guidance and counselling in homes and school especially if the school co-curricular fails to integrate them (using teachers) – they soon degenerate into drug abusers, beer drinkers, hooligans and prostitutes. Essentially, parents and teachers collaborate in taking the blame for the lack of seriousness in promoting drama in schools, Chileshe claimed.
He said young people’s cultural degeneration begins with simple observations at home, into the community, school and the wider society. Failure to observe and watch realistic examples means failure of the future, and failure of a culture.
“The way our children eat and share meals has a lot to do with the culture of parents and society, which is passed on to the teachers who may have very little to do because their curriculum hinges on academic book knowledge, sport and just a few recreations,” he said admitting that the side plate type of eating in modern homes distances each member of the family from one another.
Chileshe applauded the new syllabus that has called for the two-pathways to the education sector; the practical and academic. This he said would inspire wider experiences as learners will easily be conscripted into what they can easily be good at.
Still reeling on the memories of the past and the role as Reverend in “Jesus Z Christ,” Albert Chileshe said the play depicted a corrupt church regime when two thieves broke in and found a gold cross and Bibles. The thieves, among them Haggai Chisulo, one of Zambia best actors played Stamp the master thief, debated to either steal the Bibles or use the white pages to roll in tobacco.
On the way forward, Chileshe proposed that parents should respect the teachers if those teachers running extra-curricular activities were to enjoy imparting social knowledge – for such clubs to succeed.
He strongly believes the re-introduction of serious drama in schools following the two education pathways created, can emphasise on the choice of plays, only those plays with high morals, morals that inculcate good behaviour and norms would change the perception and improve the creative industry and culture of Zambia.
Chileshe agreed that drama club matrons and patrons did not offload enough information to their children, and largely were to blame for the absence of active groups in schools.
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