Netele Theatre Performs Hama Tuma Play at BGU Africa Centre


The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor, a play adapted from short stories by Ethiopian activist/writer Hama Tuma, will be performed Tuesday, December 8, as part of the inauguration ceremonies of the Africa Centre at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Directed by Yafa Schuster, the play will be performed by members of the Netele Theatre.

Based on court trials that took place in Ethiopia during Mengistu’s reign, the stories, written with Hama Tuma’s unique combination of satiric wit and warmth, reveal the realities of life under an oppressive regime in all its pain and absurdity. The current production was initiated by Doron Tavory at Hazira Performance Art festival in March 2008. The play is adapted from two stories: The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor and the Case of the Illiterate Saboteur. The text of the play remains faithful to the stories, as translated by Dori Parnes. The complete collection of Hama Tuma’s stories, translated into Hebrew by Parnes, was published by Achuzat Bayit in 2009.

Following the evolution of this play since the spring of 2008, in conversation with Tavory, Schuster, Parnes and the actors, I have been struck by the ability of Hama Tuma’s words to move hearts and minds. These stories ignite a spark in the heart of everyone who has come into contact with them, whether reading the text or seeing the play. We know the heat of this flame – the burning desire for justice. The daily rush of ordinary life and its incessant demands, the overexposure to images and words through the media, tends to dim the light of this fire so that we do not always see or feel it, yet it burns.  Most plays end with the applause, the audience hurries out of the theatre, already thinking about something else, when the curtain falls, the play disappears. This play will remain with you.

Netele rehearsals August 2008/Photo: Dror Katz
Netele rehearsals August 2008/Photo: Dror Katz

The evening will be hosted by Dr. Tamar Golan, Head of the Steering Committee for the Africa Centre, with greetings from MK Haim Oron. The performance will take place in the Zonenfeld Auditorium at 20:00 and is free of charge.

The Africa Centre is an interdisciplinary body which includes the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Health Sciences & Medicine, and the Institute for Desert Research at Sde Boker. The University Rector, Prof. Jimmy Weinblatt will be the centre’s first Director.

The two days of events will include a visit of African University Presidents’ Delegation, accompanied by Dan Schacham, African Division, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  A soccer match between professional African players from Israeli teams and Ben Gurion University with HaPoel Beer Sheva players will take place on December 9, with a half-time performance by the Israeli Bangoura Band.

Information: 08- 6428262,

Image credit: Photo by Dror Katz  from rehearsals, August 2008


  1. When we talk about the sixities of Ethiopia, we mean about the higly appreciated music fusion of internal and external geners, expressed within the music of Tilahun gessesse, Alemayehu Eshete and many others. The tramslated play- `Hamlet` of Laurate Tsegaye G.Medhin, the beauty of the poetry of Hailu Gemoraw´s Berekete Mergem, Ashenafi Kebede´s symphonic poem -`The Shepherd Flutist and the Fire Fly`, many other talented Ethiopians have been contributing in this regard. The Expert of Wax and Gold -Tsegaye Debteraw and Hama Touma are one of those talented personalities of the generation. Although they had been hiding themselves from the luxurious work of Art. However, I am confident that Hama will add more flavour to our narrow horizon of Art territory!

    Zenebe Bekele

  2. Great as always, Hama Tuma!!

    What a creative mind! For you are so creative you deserved to gain worldwide recognition and more. Ethiopia loves you for who you are. She loves you because she knows how passionately you defend her and her way of life all along.


  3. The SWD is Hama Tuma’s life work and the chronicle of Ethiopian darkest moment. The SWD attests the power of his insight and poetic excellence. Hama Tuma is one of the very few living legend that Ethiopia ever had. He is brutally honest with fearsome courage even to go against himself. Hama is a clean and noble soul. Thanks for who you are and eternally glad to know you.


  4. It is really great that a lot is happening to nourish our depressed souls in diaspora. Hama Tuma is whom I hghly admire and respect from the living legends of my country art crerativty field. Well done,
    Melkam Edil Emanalhu,

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