2015 Barefeet Festival — a recap of films, workshops and theatre

Sara Drawwater
29 August 2015
In the mean time here’s a short recap of some of the fest activities that took place this past week — hopefully the inspiration you need to get yourself down to today’s festival finale fanfare.

Barefeet Theatre’s 2015 One Drum Many Beats festival started its run on the 21st of August and continues its magic through to the 29th. The arts festival concludes with a not to be missed weekend of music and carnival. The Saturday grand finale is the ‘One drum many beats carnival’ and the ‘Saturday sun, sounds and stars concert’, which features the adored Femi Kuti and a host of quality supporting acts.

In the mean time here’s a short recap of some of the fest activities that took place this past week — hopefully the inspiration you need to get yourself down to today’s festival finale fanfare.

Film night

On Monday evening, Barefeet Theatre and their partners hosted a Film Night at Manda Hill’s FreshView Cinemas. Four short films put together by the Barefeet Children’s Council and the Kilimanjaro Film Institute Zambia (KFIZ) were shown, including the internationally acclaimed, e18theam by Ngosa Chungu.

Under the mentorship of Ngosa and the KFIZ, the budding film makers created short films encapsulating this year’s festival’s four themes:

  1. Disabilities
  2. Street Life
  3. Hand Washing
  4. Refugee Status

The film institute guided the young creators with their scripts, collection of footage and editing. Imanga Kay, who works with the KFIZ, says she was happy to be part of the seven day workshop that produced the films and is excited about inspiring a generation of local film makers.

The short productions told the stories of people from different walks of life and their aspirations. From the perils of life on the streets of Lusaka and one boy’s triumph over it, to the inspiring story of an autistic girl using her art to overcome her situation; these short films were nothing but heartwarming.

The feature of the night was e18theam, a moving docu-film about the tragedy of the Gabon disaster that took Zambia’s national football team and the inspirational triumph of the team in the 2012 AFCON Final. Grainy footage from the 90s and interviews from the late Dennis Liwewe were but a few of the nuggets that added to the richness of the production.

“The film transformed into something even greater than I expected it to be,” said Ngosa Chungu, who birthed the film’s concept and produced it. She said she learned a lot about collaborative storytelling and even had the players submit their own videos to include in the film. The production artfully captured moments not only important to the country’s football history, but moments important to the country’s heritage. With the help of Zambeef Plc, Ngosa was even able to showcase e18theam at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France.


Tuesday had workshops running from morning to late afternoon at the Lusaka Playhouse. Barefeet not only love to entertain the masses, but they love to teach as well (teach a man to fish and all that!). The workshops ranged from breakdancing to performance art and theatre.

Helen Statman and Trevor Stuart from the UK hosted a workshop on performance art. “We were getting the kids to discover their inner strengths,” said Helen. Through a series of exercises that even included blindfolding, the children and whoever else was present learnt “to use different aspects of their brain for creativity.”

Head spinning into action in the late afternoon were Immortal Style from South Africa. They started the kids off with some much needed stretching and taught urban and dance style techniques that are all the rave in South Africa. Samples and remixes of James Brown’s songs and a number of hip-hop jams boomed through the speakers in the playhouse’s studio.

The breakdancers and B-boys, both local and from outside Zambia shared techniques and tips in what looked like a hell of a workout. It was an admirable thing to witness. Art and music have a way of bringing cultures together and Barefeet know how to bring a melting pot to the flame.

Theatre night — A Night to Remember

“Dumdee dumdee dum! Dumdee dumdee dum! Something wicked this way comes,” these were the opening lines to Wednesday night’s two-man eerie performance by Cocoloco at Lusaka Playhouse. Helen and Stuart donned curly blonde wigs, blue dresses and striped stockings in their Alice and Alice performance; reciting humorous and sometimes dark rhyming anecdotes that tickled and amused the audience.

When the show started, the audience was asked whether it had ever wondered what was on the other side of the mirror. The strange idea behind this was wonderfully embodied in Cocoloco’s ‘mirrored Alice’, as they recited their rhymes simultaneously giving a mirror effect to their Alice in Wonderland character.

The crowd was certainly taken down a rabbit hole. “When you come across a fork in the road,” Alice and Alice said in unison and paused, “…take it.”

Following this act was Princess Mhoon, a monologue of sorts performed by Princess Mhoon herself with a little drumming from Barefeet’s, Chembe. The piece was written by Princess and Brooke Ciardelli and was a rollercoaster of emotions and unorthodox storytelling. Mhoon told her life story and showed bits of her grandmother, father and versions of herself as she explained her journey to find herself and grow. This was done to well timed sound bites of 70’s music, flutes and even the cries of a baby to help the audience visualize her story.

“Baby girl, don’t you know black is beautiful?” Mhoon asked when she played her conscious father. “That hair of yours grows towards the sun, shaped like the number 9, curling to infinity…ether…” She chronicled her struggles as a black woman from Illinois dealing with race and inner demons in a flurry of provocative dance moves and action in her semi-revealing curve hugging dress. It was an insightful and intriguing performance.

Before Wednesday night was done, a crew of performers came on stage with a miniature jamboree they called, The Show without a Name. Some spoken word floated from the auditorium’s speakers as one of Immortal Style’s B-Boys busted some interpretive dance moves to it. Kalantura from Holland, Barefeet from Zambia, Brouhaha from the UK, Artscape and Immortal style from South Africa all came together to end the night on a cabaret-style celebration with drumming break dancing and crowd pleasing chanting.

Barefeet showed off their acrobatics and even frightened an audience member or two when a child was used as a human skipping rope. The dancers spun on their heads and performed to the drums of their stage mates, electrifying the audience and inspiring thunderous clapping. It was a wonderful spectacle to behold!

The close of the week (when this was being prepped for publishing) brought Friday Fire which showcased the talents of Zonefam, Slapdee, Eleftherios Mukuka and Mampi. Saturday the 29th of August will be the last day of the 2015 Barefeet Festival. Today is the 2015 Barefeet Festival finale! Don’t miss the following!

  1. One drum many beats carnival, Gymkhana, Showgrounds, Lusaka, from 11:00 to 14:00 hours
  2. Saturday sun, sounds ad stars concert, Gymkhana, Showgrounds, Lusaka, from 14:00 to 22:00 hours
  3. One drum after party, Bongwe Barn, Lusaka, from 22:00 hours