Teaching And Learning In Apartheid South Africa: 'My Children! My Africa' On Stage In Ithaca


MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA!, Athol Fugard’s drama about teaching and learning within segregated South Africa, explores themes about race and protest that are still relevant today.

Autumn 1984. The school year has already begun in a small segregated township on the Eastern cape. Anela Myalatya, known affectionately as Mr. M, prepares two pupils, Thami Mbikwana, a black boy, and Isabel Dyson, a white girl, to compete together in an academic competition.

Right outside the window, the anti-apartheid movement starts to transform their country. These three soon find that their classroom is not immune from the conflict which accompanies overturning the old order. Thami and Isabel’s educations are inexorably intertwined with the nation’s politics. Mr. M attempts to persuade his students that education, not violence, is the answer to South Africa’s problems, but as the competition draws nearer, it becomes clear that the nation’s future depends entirely on how the younger generation chooses to act.

Crystal Sarakas talks with Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., who plays Mr. M, about how the past and present collide in this production. Performances by the Civic Ensemble will be held in the Black Box Theatre at the Lehman Alternative Community School Black Box Theatre, 111 Chestnut Street, Ithaca NY 14850. Showtime is 7:30 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and 4 pm on Sundays.