Story of river god brought to life by young Zambian actors

Members of Barefeet Theatre Company in action

Members of Barefeet Theatre Company in action

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Zambian theatre company Barefeet is promising to bring added cultural spice to the city when they bring their unique tale of an irate river god to the MAC on June 26.

Float by Barefeet Theatre is described as a “wild, wicked and wonderful” adventure based on Zambian folklore about Nyaminyami, the god of the Zambezi river.

Barefeet is an usual theatre company as it is also a charity which works to improve the lives of children in the impoverished African country, providing them with education on drugs, absue, HIV and AIDS and helping them to deal with their problems through participation in theatre, dance and singing workshops held in drop-in centres.

This high-energy performance will include song, dance, drumming and acrobatics and all of the performers are young adults who used to live on Zambian streets.

The play is inspired by Frederick Durenmatt’s The Visit and based on the mythology surrounding the building of the Kariba Dam in the Zambezi river which flows through the African nation. Legend has it Nyaminyami was less than impressed when construction work began on one of the world’s largest dams in the 1950s and caused a flood in rage.

Some say Nyaminyami takes the form of a whirlwind, another that he is dragon-like with a snake’s torso and the head of a fish. The play is set in a sleepy lakeside town in southern Zambia which is shaken up by the arrival of a mysterious stranger carrying a curious briefcase.

Adam McGuigan, from Ballymoney, is the theatre company’s artistic director.

“When the birds fly backwards and the sun fails to rise there is only one hope left and down in the depths of the Zambezi river an ancient spirit stirs,” he said of the storyline.

“The message is ‘come to the shore, sing to the stars, something is about to emerge - but don’t look down’.”

The Zambian theatre company is touring the UK, Ireland the US this summer.

“From very humble beginnings armed only with some face paint and a drum or two, Barefeet has emerged as a vibrant, award winning theatre company that has performed in Europe, South Africa and Zimbabwe and this is our second visit to Ireland,” Mr McGuigan explained.

Float by Barefeet is at the MAC in Belfast on Thursday June 26. Visit

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