As points for departure, Cekwana and Canada brought the historic Nkomati Accord of 1984, (a non-aggression pact signed by then Mozambican president Samora Machel and South African president PW Botha), and the “Inkomati” river, which spills into the Indian Ocean in Mozambique by way of crossing South Africa and Swaziland. In the beginning, the entire cast Amelia Socovinho, Maria Tembe (an amputee in a wheelchair for at least half of the performance), Cekwana and Canada are masked and in various khaki outfits. Soon they revisit what some historians call the “smokescreen” ploy by Machel and Botha, and Cekwana pose questions and
share thoughts behind a microphone about what the future would bring. “Tell me a future,” “Cross me a river
and tell me my life,” “I have a truth to tell…but it could be a lie,” he offered. Some necessary movement
(traversing the space) came at various intervals, but there was not much more investigation into longer sequences other than a duet between Tembe (out of the wheelchair) and Canda, while Cekwana and Socovinho changed costumes. Cekwana donned a blond wig, bright red t-shirt and beaded necklace, Socovinho a flowered dress, wedged heels and a red wig. The work ends just after Tembe, bound and gagged by masking tape tries to explain her case and each of the others translate. Politics or dance?
Bouchra Ouizguen’s Ha! is the winner here, and so too are the Aita singer-muses for Ha! Maima Sahmoud, Tatima El Hanna, and Kabboura Ait Ben Hmad. These women demand our attention and we would be remiss if we didn’t give them our all. Ha! opens in the dark and all that we see are four bright white things moving, and finally settling into one line. Soon we hear soft breathing (the sound of ha), the breathing sounds build until we are sure it would end, but no, the rhythm changes, the white things we see are their head wraps. Then their heads begin to release with the breath forward and back, forward and back. The rhythm changes again and they move here and there, hands on their thighs to support their full bodies now—they bend fully at the hips, take a step, lift up and just before being upright, a should pulls them back. The rhythm changes again, the lights
come up, and the vocals intensify, they clap, they harmonize, they keep changing patterns and, NO, it still does not end. We are now part of this ritual happening and we don’t want it to end. When the pause comes, close
together, they face the audience and we giggle as the foursome goe through a series of funny facial gestures.
When that was done, they moved around the space slowly, shape-shifting their bodies until they end up in a pile, face down on the floor. When the moment was just right, they started chanting again. Now muffled by the floor, their bodies moving with each breath, their beautiful voices constant, they rose, the lights lowered and we see only their white head wraps when the lights go out. What a blast! This is Ouizguen’s second visit to the US, and we want more!