Conceived as an opera, Nehanda investigates the legend of Nehanda, a powerful spirit, venerated by the Shona people, native of Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, who inhabits only women. In the late 19th century, Nehanda’s medium was Charwe Nyakasikana, a heroic revolutionary leader, who orchestrated the first uprisings in British-occupied Southern Rhodesia in 1896-97. Together with four comrades, she was captured, and after getting an expedited and unjust trial, executed by the British colonizers, who were so scared that they ordered her bones and the skull to be sent to the UK.
Nehanda offers a legal and philosophical defense for the first heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. The libretto is based on the infamous court case “The Queen vs. Nehanda” (1898), between two sovereigns Nehanda – mhondoro – “lion spirit,” and the Queen Victoria, whose long and glorified reign witnessed the rise and extension of the British empire across the world. The performance is designed as an immersive, participatory and durational spectacle where participants can collectively perform and investigate the process of law-making and its crucial role in the European colonial project.