07-13 May 2002
Page 27 Photo with caption

By Bobana Badisang
Contributing author to Millennium Moment² An Anthology of African Verse.
Review of a theatrical musical drama ³A Woman and Her Words² performed at
Maitisong, 19 April 2002. Starring Tadia Rice as Tahirih and featuring Sello
Sebotsane as the Journalist.

The music pierces the acoustics of Maitisong. The actors connect so well and
are so synchronized with events of the time, one finds it difficult to tell
the difference between the actors and the real act. ³A Woman and Her Words²
tells the story of Tahirih (Ta-Hear-AY), a 19th century legal and
theological scholar, a child-wife and mother who breaks age-old traditions.
She rises to become a leader, and spiritual teacher. Her quest for knowledge
and truth expands her intellectual horizons and instills in her
self-assertiveness. Through her musical poetry Tahirih (1815-1852) advances
her cause in the struggle to emancipate humanity from the clutches of
illiteracy and serfdom.
She commands respect and a significant t number of followers. She protests
against the veil, which has become and emblem of oppression that silences
and conceals a women's life. The veil dictates psychological and physical
bondage. Tahirih renounces being a shadow woman, and un-shrouds herself
through a dramatic act of unveiling the truth. She is too prominent to let
loose, so she is thrown in jail. Although executing women is against Islamic
law, she is mysteriously throttled with ta silk handkerchief in the middle
of the night. Her body is thrown in an unfinished well, never to be found
or claimed. However, her legacy continues in her teachings, her poetry, and
the power for the word. After 150 years, she is still a great inspiration to