Climbing a Mountain

Posted on Jan 23, 2018

It Was Just Like Climbing a Mountain

Harare, January 23rd, 2018 | Farai Siebert Mabeza


The way my year started should have been a sign of things to come. To mark the beginning of 2018 I went mountain climbing (it was my first time and I instantly got hooked); My hike early on the morning of January 1st, 2018 took me up the Jenya mountain range in Mutasa district. It had everything; fear, anxiety, the adrenaline rush, and ultimately pure exhilaration. When I got to the top of the mountain I wanted to stay there forever.

It was amazing how each step of that liberating experience would come to mirror my experiences at the Almasi African Playwrights Conference. I really didn’t know what to expect when I got the call because most of theater was mostly uncharted territory for me.

My first day at the conference felt exactly the same way I had felt when I was standing at the foot of the mountain, intimidated. The same waves of thoughts went through my head again. I wondered if this was a good idea if this was going to be more than I could chew. I thought about the humiliation I would feel if I failed to complete the hike. And when the conference got underway, it felt the same as the climb itself. At times I felt like giving up, at times I doubted myself. I doubted whether I was really up to the task. And at a certain point, just like I had done when I was going up the mountain, I turned my head to see where I had come from. Unnerved but encouraged by the steepness of the slope and how much I had covered, I knew there was no going back. I couldn’t turn back. I had to keep going, daunting as that was. The mountain had to be climbed, the play had to be done. I had signed a contract. It had to be fulfilled.

The conference to me was probably an equivalent of a boot camp even though I have never been to an actual one. At the end of it all, I believe I came out a better writer. The criticisms, the suggestions, the encouragement all helped me dig deep into my soul. It was hard but it was worth every single drop of sweat, every wink of sleep lost, every bit of frustration and temper lost. There were moments of laughter and moments of inspiration. It was great learning from every single person who was part of the conference. The stage managers; the actors; the director; the dramaturge all gave their all and it was amazing to share the experience with them. And a special thank you to Alice Tuan, Danai Gurira, and the whole Almasi team. Great experience! I look forward to the future with energy and hope. Asante Sana!