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Pula: A Prayer for Rain (1981) is a play by Matsemela Manaka (1955-1998).

The original text

A four-hander, but with twelve parts, the play comprises four movements, each revealing a different aspect of the demoralization of the black man in South Africa, and uses dance, chanting and physical tableaux, as well as verbal elements. Pula was conceived and developed by Matsemela Manaka in collaboration with his theatre group, the Soyikwa Players.

Published in Market Plays (ed Stephen Gray) by Ad Donker, in 1986. Also published by Skotaville Publishers in 1990. Also published in Beyond the Echoes of Soweto: Five Plays by Matsemela Manaka (1997).

Performance history in South Africa

From 1981 to 1984, various versions of Pula were presented in Johannesburg. Prior to its premiere, Soyikwa rehearsed and improvised for a year and a half.

1982: The play was presented at the Black Chain Hall in Diepkloof, Soweto by Soyikwa African Theatre in February 1982. It transferred to the Nunnery in Johannesburg in March 1982 and also played at the Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (DOCC). It ran at the Laager from 2 August 1982 under Manaka's direction with the following cast: Ronnie Mkwanazi, Danny Moitse, David Sebe, and Makarious Sebe.

1984: Performed by Ronnie Mkhwanazi, Makarios Sebe, Danny Moitse and David Sebe at the Funda Centre in Soweto.

2004: Staged in the Sanlam Studio Theatre at the Baxter Theatre in February 2004, directed by Tshamano Sebe, with Mbulelo Grootboom, Phikolomzi Magongoma, Andile Nebulane and Thembinkosi Njokweni.


Stephen Gray (ed.). 1986. Market Plays. AD Donker.

Gosher, 1988

Andile Xaba. 2021. 'Collective memory and the construction of a historical narrative, analysis and interpretation of selected Soweto-based community plays (1984–1994)'. Unpublished PhD thesis.

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