22/11/19, AFRIKERA DANCE THEATRE HUB – Surrounded by three men, Carlton Zhanelo returned their piercing glares and adjusted his posture. The trio nodded to each other approvingly, as a subtle caress of acceptance went up Zhanelo’s arm. This was one of many engaging scenes of the “Making Men” showcase, which captivated AfriKera supporters, staff and students.
Created by Belgian-based Sierra Leonean choreographer Harold George of Dunia Dance Theatre, Making Men is a concept that questions masculinity through an éxposé, film and dance piece. The latter was under scrutiny as George sent rehearsal coach William “Yaya” Bobongo to perfect the piece.
“We’ve been working on this since 2016,” says AfriKera Director Marie-Laure “Soukaina Edom who has worked closely with George since 2012.
“This piece disturbs people in their thinking, ‘What is a man? ’Are you less of a man if you do not fit the standard or criteria that society dictates?”
The cast includes Carlton Zhanelo, Tatenda “TC” Chabarwa, Peter Lenso and Glendale Mudzimu, an original cast-member who returns after two years studying traditional dance in India. The AfriKera Alumni also teach the current crop of students who were in attendance, as Yaya corrected their lines.
“Those lifts, they were showing strength, how they can be man enough to each other,” says second year student Tinashe Chiku.
“Also the interaction that they were having during the dance piece, it shows that they were relating in terms of the job a man can do, to support another man in each and every situation that they can face.”
After the performance, an engaging Q & A with the audience took place. When asked “What did they discover about themselves?” Lenso who has a small muscular physique spoke of the enjoyment he gets from lifting his colleagues; “I didn’t know I would enjoy it as much!”
When the discussion questioned if women had a role in Making Men, Soukaina who was backed by a doctor in the crowd highlighted that “as embryos we are all female” till the Y chromosome gets involved in the gender selection process.
The final word of the night aptly went to the returning Mudzimu, asked: What makes a man? He replied,
“A free soul who has the freedom to choose who he wants to be.”