BBC Radio 4, 17 December 2010
Set in 2000, Banished described Aurelia's (Tanro Foote's) memories
of Robert Mugabe (Lucian Msamati), just before he embarked on a scorched-earth policy of expelling white farmers from Zimbabwe.
She returns from London for the funeral of her father, an activist who has met an untimely death, and discovers that while
supposing her father to be a member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the opposition to Mugabe's ZANU Party, he
was actually in Mugabe's pay. This discovery changes Aurelia's image of Mogabe; once she found him perversely attractive,
for all his political fervour. Now she understands that such passion tends towards megalomania: Mugabe is not only determined
to cleanse Zimbabwe of its white population, but wants to possess the minds of his people as well. She is taken hostage on
a houseboat owned by Mugabe, and told that she can neither have her camera back (she is a documentary filmmaker by profession),
nor return to the bosom of her family. She remains entirely subservient to the leader's will.
I'm not quite sure what author Andrew Whaley's take was on the material: on
the one hand he depicts Mugabe as a single-minded despot with a straightforward view of democracy. You either support him
or risk death, disposal or colonization. On theo ther hand Mugabe has the best part in the play; in Msamati's performance
he comes across as a Richard III-type figure, who will stop at nothing - even kidnapping - to achieve his ends. The relish
with which he taunts Aurelia, having imprisoned her on his houseboat, is truly frightening. But perhaps it is this attrractive/
villainous quality that has helped Mugabe stay in power for so long, resisting all attempts to unseat him. The director was