Passage Analysis of Woza Albert

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Passage analysis of Woza Albert for a third year African Literature course.
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  1 Passage Analysis from Woza Albert This passage from Woza Albert is very interesting in comparison to the rest of the play.The entire play Mbongeni and Percy are portraying the need for a saviour who will deliverSouth Africa out of the Apartheid and to a better life. I think in a way the passage challengesthis idea and almost mocks it. My reasoning behind this is that the final line in this scene is “then life will go on as before” , followed by a cry of disgust. The outcry i s one of “disgust”  because the scene has gone in a complete circle, right back to where it started, and no progresswas made. This presents the question, can South African be saved or will their lives “go on asbefore” ? At the beginning of the scene Mbogeni and Percy are on a train, and there is thissense of hope and excitement because they are travelling somewhere new and there is a hopeof change. The train that Mbogeni and Percy mime is a metaphor for the hope for change and away out of the apartheid. At first Mbogeni describes how life will change for the better and thatthere will be “bread” and “wine for all” . The bread and wine he refers to here is a biblicalreference to the last supper. The “ bread ” is symbolically the body of Christ and the “wine” isthe blood of Christ, both symbolic of how Christ will sacrifice himself on the cross in order toredeem the sinners and save the lives of his people. Bread and wine is also used in communionor remembrance of how Christ sacrificed his life, so when Mbogeni says that there will be bread and wine “for all” he is describing how everyone has been saved and they now have thisconnection with their savior. The fact that South Africa will be saved almost seems inevitable atthis point, because Mbogeni delivers his lines as if he is telling a story that has alreadyhappened. Reading this play now, post-apartheid, we see that it was actually very prophetic.  2 The next part of the passage slowly shifts to a more negative tone as Mbogeni hides behind a “bed” and Per cy, as woman, is disturbed from her sleep and cries out. The simplicity of this setting is what emphasizes the dialogue more, which in turn adds to the confusion of thisscene. There is only a box on stage as a prop, which directs the focus on the actors, but there isthis constant switching of character roles and dialogue between Percy and Mbogeni, so thedialogue because the main focal point. At first Percy is the woman, then he is the policeman,and Mbogeni is a child but he also seems to be acting as the narrator and the only way todifferentiate is by listening to who is delivering the lines as well as how the lines are delivered.The atmosphere continues to become confusing and more suspenseful especially because Percystarts crying out in Zulu, a language that is not universal and would confuse an audience of mixed race. Percy also has a line that says “maak die deur oop” which is Afrikaans, but even without understanding this you can hear the heavy accent in the way that this is written or spoken. A translation isn’t necessary because the sound of the words is familiar in English, andthe accent is what creates the foreign atmosphere. The Zulu is presented right after theAfrikaans, emphasizing this clash of cultures that is the Apartheid, and in a way it is veryunsettling. Mbogeni describes how the peace will be ruined and the “government will begin totake courage again”. This means that this peace that their saviour “Morena” has created won’tlast. Percy uses words like “surrounding”, “roadblocks”, and “tear - gas” which are all things thatstop or inhibit progress. This is ironic because at the beginning of the passage, progress isexactly what Mbogeni and Percy are hoping to achieve through their saviour Morena.The name Morena is also interesting because it obviously alludes to Nelson Mandela,but you can also hear the word Messiah as well. A Messiah and a savior like Christ or Mandela is  3 exactly who the “hundreds of thousands” in South Africa are looking for. Percy repeatedly sings “we shall follow Morena”, ultimately with the hope that he will lead them to a better life, but it would seem that they are destined for failure because of the “roadblocks” that Mbogeni pointsout. The most interesting part, after all of this dialogue, is that srcinally Percy and Mbogenimiming being on a train. This mimed train also shows up later in the play. A train could bringthem to a new place and change their surroundings, but a train is also stuck on a track andthere is no way of changing the course that it is on. The train I think acts as another metaphorfor their lives in the sense that they will constantly be moving forward but if they remain on thetrain then they will not make any progress because it will still end up back at the station where they srcinally boarded. This ultimately goes back the question about the line “then life will goon as before”. If the people of South Africa are saved by Mandela, will life be as plentiful and peaceful as Mbogeni portrays? This is also religious allegory for Moses leading his people to thePromised Land. How long will it take to get there, and when they arrive, will it be as theydreamed? The answer I think is debatable, but this passage seems to lean towards the morenegative answer, that l ife will likely “go on as before”.
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