Tsetse Valley is a drama which questions Zimbabwe’s traditional rural ways versus its modern laws. An expert hunter teaches a young man about the laws and ethics of hunting in the forest as they track various animals. When they are separated, the young man comes face to face with Chadya mukonde , a rhino – and is soon arrested for illegal poaching. This short play explores both sides of the heated debate over conservation and the survival of whole villages. A powerful drama for older teens to adults.
Tsungayi Hatitye, citizen of the world, born in Zimbabwe with a passion for nature and the outdoors and has studied towards becoming a professional hunter safari guide. Wrote a play titled The Gravel Road to Copenhagen which was read at the Kennedy Centre Washington DC as part of the New Visions New Voices project and won him sponsorship to develop this play, Tsetse Valley, which showcased at the 2015 Assitej South Africa African Youth Theatre and Dance Festival and later won the 2016 edition of the S-E-S International Playwriting Prize that was presented at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles CA. Writes to entertain by taking hearts and minds into dangerous territories where normal suburban lives would usually not go.
Excerpt from the play:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
TEE KAY: A charismatic and handsome young man of between 16 and 18. He carries with him an air of puerile enthusiasm. His voice is naïve and at the breaking point of boyhood and manhood.
CHANGA NYAMASVISVA: A tall adult bearded male over 40 but may look much older because of rough living conditions. He is a subsistence farmer, and traditional hunter. He sniffs tobacco snuff and is usually dressed in green or khaki overalls. Despite life having given him lemons instead of oranges, he is a man with an air of someone who is in full control of himself and with a confidence that comes from deep within and speaks in a deep gravelly voice.
DUSTY RIVERS: A game ranger, conservationist, landowner. Unlit Cuban cigar ever present on lips.
COURT MAGISTRATE: Middle aged civil servant.
This story is set in a remote valley in modern day Zimbabwe.
SETTING: A stage set as a forest in sunset with bushes and grasses from which we hear (pre-recorded or imitated by actors) doves cooing, cicada beetles and crickets playing their music.
AT RISE: Changa dressed in leaf-green overalls, with a basket-weave satchel on his back and armed with spear and battle axe. TK in old
t-shirts and cut-off jeans, armed with bow and arrow plus a quiver full of arrows and basket-weave shoulder-bag are walking purposefully in the forest.
And what animal are we tracking, great hunter?
(Changa takes moments to answer as he inspects the ground.)
An animal of the dark. And in that darkness, he walks alone.
(Eyes wide) Does it have a name?
(CHANGA does not respond. CHANGA crouches.)
Come here, let me show you something.
(TK goes to crouch beside Changa.)
I cannot teach you how to hunt without teaching you how to survive. Because in this valley of ours, the hunter can easily become the hunted . . . Now what spoor is this?
I have never seen such, great hunter.
And it is likely the children of your children will never see such . . . Give me a wild guess.
I can’t even begin to guess it looks like a lily but the creature is certainly big.
Now, move over to the other side; never cast your own shadow over the track you are trying to understand. Okay.
(TK complies by moving.)
Yes, from now on I will always position myself wisely when investigating a track.
It is Chadya mukonde.
(TK’s eyes open wide in surprise.)
Yes, this is rhino spoor, mfana ami. It means a rhino is in the area.
(TK shakes his head in understanding, eyes wide open.)
And what does a rhino represent?
Lots and lots of money for medical aid and college fees.
(Displeased) Idiot. That is the foolishest answer I have ever heard. In this valley, at most, rhino represents death. And at best it represents a very long jail sentence. You hear me? (TK does not respond.) (More emphasis) Do you hear me?
Yes, great hunter.
That horn may be shaped strange, but it certainly does not cause strange things okay!
I hear you, great hunter.
And for every rhino that walks these parts, there are four heavily armed paramilitary rangers close by. Now let’s get out of this place very fast.
(While running) But high risk, high returns, Nyamasvisva. This here rhino could be the end of all our problems, Nyamasvisva. The end of all medical bills. I could even go to college.