Decrypting 'Sakeng' with Kgotla Molefe

Over the past weekend, we covered Botswana’s only LGBTI themed festival Queer Shorts Showcase, where we saw one talented Afrolutionist Kgotla Molefe portray four characters in the theatre peice Sakeng.

Playing four characters: a smart mouthed school boy, a spiritual christain man, a patriach and an old Motswana Villager, Kgotla sat with us to decrypt both metaphors and characters in the play, relating it to Botswana’s LGBTI community’s context.

Please give the readers a brief synopsis of Sakeng

Sakeng is a one man play written and directed by Kat Kai Kol Kes, which to me depicts four different stories of all Batswana men, with completely different backgrounds with very good stories to tell which need to be heard, which I done so by myself.

Getting into the characters, there are two predominant characters in the play – we do see a character that speaks in vernacular, narrating but with focus on the spiritual man and rebellious boy, may you highlight their similarities

I think both are very good at what they do, and are very progressed in what they believe in. in that they relate mostly in being rebellious because now they’ve come to a point where they question everything they know. Their questions are all from within but relate to all of us. Its thing that we would question ourselves in our moments alone at home. But through this play I would say they are both stuck and looking for answers as compared to their staunch patriarch and the up and about Motswana man. They have their own stories but those two specifically, the Christian and the young boy – they need answers man!

What triggered this for them? To get into a state of questioning all that they know

All that is around them, being that you are told to do one thing and you have to live by another. The Christian man knows and believes and teaches Christianity but the Christians do not live Christianity. The boy is smart and brilliant at school but he feels like he is learning nothing about himself – about what really matters…

So where in this does it tie in with Botswana’s LGBTI community?

The entire play ties with the LGBTI community that all characters and the LGBTI need a voice to be heard. They are also at a point where they need to shout, they can’t stop hiding. It’s impossible not be known and seen and in that, just as the old man wanted to guide them through – that old man was a representation of Botswana, of our leaders, our traditional leaders that he in the play perceived the other characters like cows – like these are bulls of our nation. So just the way he would usher them from kraal to water and water to kraal Sakeng is trying to get that out of them – both the patriarchs and Christians but all of them really

Is it safe to assume that the old man is a metaphor of the moral compass of the country where we’re steering to and where we headed?

Sort of, because I would like to say that it is where we should be going but it is not where we are going. Our traditional leaders are quiet on the matter and there is still stigma. Tradition is still tradition and we understand it’s hard to bend that but it can encompass a lot more than we use to.

It’s difficult for that generation of Batswana to accept that the LGBTI community exist. So it is a metaphor, but it’s the opposite of where we should be going.


Catch Kgotla’s performance of Sakeng tomorrow live at the Meditation for peace event in Maurapula High School, Gaborone, Botswana