many rivers crossed
FROM 5TH to 11TH SEPTEMBER 2018
February 22nd, 2002.
Ambushed at breakfast in the open savanna of eastern Angola, Jonas Savimbi—the infamous warlord and leader of the UNITA rebels—has just been killed by government troops. After twenty-seven years of civil war, since independence in 1975, what was one of Africa’s longest and deadliest conflicts has at long last reached its inevitable end.
Angolans will soon dance and rejoice in the streets at the demise of the man many condemn as the sole perpetuator of the war: Savimbi’s personal vendetta against the incumbent party, and against Angola as a whole for not having chosen him in the 1992 elections, resulted in the loss of 500,000 lives, and left a country that could have been the continent’s richest among its poorest. He suddenly wakes up—dead, bullet-ridden and surrounded by the ghosts of those killed by his hubris. He is confronted by the pain he has wreaked on Angola; and in an attempt to die in peace, he explains himself—but whether he is willing apologise and repent is unclear.
A solo play, Many Rivers Crossed condemns without demonising, and humanises without sympathising, the obsessions of a warlord, in order to find a semblance of meaning in humankind’s propensity for power-thirst and pride.
Written and directed by Richard Canal
Co-directed and stage managed by George Goodell
Performed by Emeson Nwolie