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Play inspired by footballer Frank Lampard wins BBC African performance competition


A radio play reflecting Africa's love affair with the English Premier League has won this year's BBC African Performance competition.

 

Dear Mr Lampard tells the story of a young Zimbabwean boy who strikes up a relationship with the Chelsea star Frank Lampard.

 

Dear Mr Lampard and the runner-up plays can be heard on BBC World Service radio from Thursday 10 July 2008 or online at bbcworldservice.com.

 

The winning play, Dear Mr Lampard, tells the moving story of a 15-year-old Zimbabwean called Fortune. His obsession with English Premiership team Chelsea prompts him to write repeatedly to his favourite player, Frank Lampard.

 

To his surprise Frank Lampard writes back, enclosing a ticket to an England v South Africa game in Johannesburg. Fortune then embarks on an incident-filled adventure to get to the match, overcoming huge obstacles to finally meet his hero.

 

The South African writer of Dear Mr Lampard, Risenga Makondo, comes from Venda near the Zimbabwean border and is himself a Chelsea fan.

 

He told the BBC that he was inspired by how football brings people together. "A teacher, a doctor, a churchman and a thief can all sit and watch football and will all jump up at the same time. Football is a place where everyone is equal."

 

In second place was A Home For Tai by Zimbabwean Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni. The play is about a young woman stigmatised by childlessness and her fight to keep her husband and family as she struggles to fall pregnant.

 

Joint third place went to Funeral Bells by Benjamin Kent from Ghana which takes a wry look at the central role funerals play in many African societies.

 

Benjamin shares his award with Olusanya Kolawole Oluwaseyi from Nigeria and his play A Dangerous Voyage. It tells the tale of four West Africans who risk their lives in a fishing boat, hoping to start a new life in the Canary Islands.

 

The BBC also awarded two special commendations to Power Failure by Nigerian Jide Afolayan and Belonging by Zimbabwean Mirirai Moyo.

 

Judge Shimmer Chinodya, an award-winning Zimbabwean author, said: "I was very impressed with the standard of entries and the range of genres covered this year."

 

BBC African Performance - broadcast dates and synopsis

 

Thursday 10 July at 16.30 GMT

First Place

Dear Mr Lampard by Risenga Makondo (South Africa)

15-year-old Fortune lives in Zimbabwe where his obsession with English Premiership team Chelsea prompts him to write repeatedly to his favourite player, Frank Lampard. His friends tease him relentlessly about it until, to their surprise, Lampard writes back enclosing a ticket to an England v South Africa game in Johannesburg.  Fortune then embarks on an incident-filled adventure to get to the match, overcoming huge obstacles to finally meet his hero.
Director: Jenny Horrocks

 

Thursday 17 July at 16.30 GMT

Second Place

A Home For Tai by Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni (Zimbabwe)

Taipanei is a young Zimbabwean woman who fails to fall pregnant a year after her marriage.  She comes under pressure from her in-laws and her husband who are disappointed that she has not yet conceived. The mounting social and family pressure eventually leads her to seek help from a traditional healer who gives her roots to use. Her joy in getting pregnant soon turns to tragedy as the medicine-man's concoction almost costs her life. She loses her baby but her own life is saved by a most unlikely hero and through the process she learns a valuable lesson.
Director: Alice Muthengi

 

Thursday 24 July at 16.30 GMT

Third Place (Joint)

Funeral Bells by Benjamin Kent (Ghana)

It's another Saturday in Nsawm and as usual there's a funeral to organise. Among the numerous guests who have arrived are Mr Samuel Ahiable and his wife Gloria. Like many of the other guests, they know the deceased only briefly – but that doesn't stop them enjoying the food and delivering speeches in honour of the dead man. A wry look at the central role funeral rituals play in many African societies.
Director: Alice Muthengi

 

Thursday 31 July at 16.30 GMT

Third Place (Joint)

A Dangerous Voyage by Olusanya Kolawole Oluwaseyi (Nigeria)

The tale of four West Africans who set off for a better life in the Canary Islands, risking their lives in a fishing boat. As their journey progresses, their various characters are revealed, and when things start to go wrong, they drop their guards and share the reasons they want to leave, and the hopes and dreams they have if they reach their destination.
Director: Jenny Horrocks

 

Thursday 14 August at 16.30 GMT

Special Commendation

Power Failure by Jide Afolayan (Nigeria)

An entertaining and imaginative take on that perennial problem - power cuts – which will strike a chord with listeners all over Africa. Odion gives up a good job in Lagos and moves to his village where he appears to be very much enjoying the quiet life. He's particularly partial to locally produced corn beer - so much better than all the imported stuff in the city.  As he tells his story, it is clear that the lack of power is at the root of his decision. The city makes you depend on electricity and just when you can't do without it, takes it away from you. And when he finds his son suffering from a severe asthma attack in a hospital with no electricity to run the respirator, he ends up resorting to desperate measures.
Director: Catherine Fellows

 

 

Thursday 21August at 16.30 GMT

Special commendation

Belonging by Mirirai Moyo (Zimbabwe)

So how do you bring a play in which the heroine is a chicken and the hero a hyena to life? Fortunately radio is the perfect medium for a play which uses animal characters to explore the nature of identity. Is it possible for us to transcend the limitations of our culture, class or ethnicity? Is a bright young chicken doomed to live at the bottom of the pecking order? And is the hyena prepared to become a laughing stock in the pack by befriending an animal it should really be eating? Our judge described this as "a delightful piece full of wit, tenderness and charm".
Director: Catherine Fellows

 

BBC World Service Publicity Team

 

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Category: World Service
Date: 04.07.2008
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