"Chikwakwa", means "grass-slasher". Chikwakwa Theatre became a radical, 'grass-roots' self-help project by University of Zambia staff and students in the late 1960s converted an disused tobacco barn into a vibrant Zambian theatre, generating performances by young Zambians and new plays which spread throughout the country. Chikwakwa started by celebrating the Zambia's newly-won independence and the role of a new university in a new country. By 1970, at the Third World Non-Aligned Summit in Lusaka, Chikwakwa gave performances of a play about the recently murdered Che Guevara, transposed to the racial struggle in Southern Africa. It was performed before international leaders, including Raoul Castro. Zambia's increasingly difficult position as a front-line state created tensions, between the ruling Party, UNIP, the university and the government; embroiling the theatre. Chikwakwa inspired what became known as Popular Theatre in other countries and continents and was a fore-runner of Theatre for Development. This story is vividly brought to life through the detail in the unpublished contemporary diaries and personal archives of the initiators of Chikwakwa, Michael Etherton and John Reed.
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