After five days of fun filled intense rehearsals “Laduma” is born! Those blessed with witness this amazing birth are, Jayne (director) from Cape Town, Mandla (drummer) from Durban, and the four clowns, Sabee Shozi aka U.B.U\ Jezebel from Durban, Sipho Mdletshe aka Zumba from Durban, Sussie Mjwara aka Diva\Olive from Durban, and Briar aka Molly from New Zealand/Australia. We are really thrilled to have so many new artists on board including Briar who is visiting to start up a Clowns Without Borders Australia.
Sunday afternoon. The team began with their journey to the rural hills near Creighton and the Ingwe Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal. There was great excitement as we made our way. The other team members who were joining the clowns for the first time were curious and eager to see how CWBSA does it. Our journey was filled with mist and rain thus making it slow travelling. We realized that we are in for a wet, wet week!
As we arrived in Creighton, a place of farming dubbed as Clover Country, we are met by Debbie from Sunflower HELP, the community organisation we will be partnering with during the project. They do wonderful work providing care and support to orphans and vulnerable children in the area – a much needed organisation where over 50% of the population is HIV-positive.
After introductions we finally arrived at the Centacow Monastery where we will be spending the next two weeks. It is very peaceful.
Monday morning. It was raining and we were worried that the community was not going to come. We made our way to Tarr’s Valley a community where CWBSA has been twice before. Our first show was for Tarr’s Valley primary and some community members. The guardians who attended CWBSA’s intervention programme last year also came to see the show. Luckily, there was a hall to use on this wet day. The birth of Laduma begins with drumming as the clowns come out singing, Laduma, Laduma,Laduma… led by Mandla. At the sight of the red noses there is joyous laughter from old and young and, yes, even a lamb! A lamb. The guardians who attended CWBSA’s intervention programme last year also came to see the show.
Our next stop was in Sibonelo Esihle Location. When we arrived at the community hall there was no one at the gate. It was locked shut with a padlock. But the word of our arrival spread so fast that the Clown Kombi arrived. Children come running out, young and old moving as fast as their bodies could allow them. Everyone was crowding on both sides of the gate with excitement!
Then the rain came. After waiting a few minutes for the key to open the gate, the rain started coming down harder. Still, the crowd grew larger and yet the padlock would not open. Sipho put some music full blast to distract the people from the rain. Suddenlt, we were all dancing while waiting for the gatekeeper. Even more people came when they heard music and laughter in the rain. Finally, Mandla gave the padlock another loving try and voila! Gates opened and the people went into the hall.
The laughter when they see us with our red noses is heartwarming and the dancing along phenomenal. Another hall filled with joy and laugher. There were “oohs” and “aahhs” and “hayi, hayi” for the magic.
The weather was unpredictable the whole week. And yet we still made all our 10 performances. Luckily, a couple of school had hall or under cover space. We did some shows outside when the rain was kind. When the shows were outside, community members would come close to the school fence to watch. One would see them laughing at the little they could see. As the days went by and the mist cleared, we were able appreciate the wonderful succulent green fields and the mountains. After the shows, you could hear children and teachers shouting “Laduma, Laduma, Laduma…” with gales of laughter throughout the Ingwe Municipality
“Thank you for coming again. You are healing and teaching us.” These are the words of one of the guardians. “The show was amazing and the doctors were my favourite,” said one of the children. “I have never seen anything like this before. Laughing so much!”
Thank you to the National Arts Council and Europcar for making the laughter echo in the hills of Ingwe!
– Sussie Mjwara aka Diva/Olive