It is exceedingly odd that theaters would be packed on a Sunday night, but that is exactly what is happening at the National Theatre as people excitedly await Oli’s uniquely publicized show. The drama, which had its début a week earlier at Welkite University, was finishing up before it was performed at the Ethiopian National Theatre (commonly known as Beherawi), located near La Gare.
Due to the peculiarity of Beherawi opening its gates on a Sunday night, onlookers join the queue to attend the play. The audience, eager and curious, entered the gates, which opened at 11:00 for Terania Ko Koysani (the mediator).
The mediator, a two-hour performance by Mursi people for the world to witness, reveals numerous pocket stories of Mursi people. Elders from the Mursi community graciously filled the front row of the performance.
A fascinating modern light show that the production team later donated to the national theater guided native Mursi youth as they chanted and marched from the audience to the stage at the start of the play. As the audience is transported to a real field in Mursi by the projected rear screen, it depicts a scene of Mursi people going about their everyday business while singing and humming.
The group, who lacked acting experience beforehand, learnt everything and performed it all in just four months.
The show’s producer and a specialist in theatrical arts, Asteway Melese, remembers how difficult it was to direct a cast that had no prior acting experience and was unfamiliar with the idea of a play. Nevertheless, the difficulties they faced helped to shape the play into what it is today.
“We understood there would be difficulties working with a cast that is new to the profession since these folks are not actors; they are cattle herders who abandoned their families to assist us portray a vision,” Asteway said.
The play was directed, produced, and carried out by a diverse group of individuals who came together to realize the vision of the multi-award-winning Mursi native filmmaker, Olisarali Olibui. The play was brought to life with the help of the University of London, South Omo Production Company, and Welkite University.
The 15,000-strong Mursi population resides in serene, charming little towns. The artist depicts this way of life for them, elaborating on the tight bond between his people and the cow they refer to as “Oli” with deep affection. They named their son Oli because they are so committed to their livestock.
Olisarali Olibui is a native of Mursi who discovered his love for storytelling and movies through a succession of unusual circumstances.
The storyteller/cultural ambassador utilizes his craft to peacefully campaign for his people’s rights by conveying relevant stories to a society that is very different from his own. He also uses it to introduce the world to his home country, his people, and his culture.
Olisarali said he began to understand the value of narrative, film, and art. “I used to go to meetings with my gun and it was fine, but the minute I brought a camera into a conference, people started getting afraid.” Olisarali claims that while capturing beauty and truth, his camera had more force than his pistol.
The way his people live their daily lives—a simple life filled with love and healthy coexistence with both nature and one another—represents Oli.
Oli’s work serves as a tribute to the place and people who raised him and illustrates the disregard that the government and other nearby tribes show for the little nation and ethnicity.
More than ten years ago, before Oli entered the stage, he used large screens to showcase the beauty of his neighborhood in the movie “Shooting with Mursi.” He received praise from critics and numerous accolades for the movie, which depicted life in his community on a daily basis.
The performance employs a variety of mediums, including video cutouts, projected subtitles, a short film, dance, and singing. It covers a wide range of topics in two hours, including community, government neglect of the populace, love, culture, and cultural diversity.
The audience members who were unsure of what to anticipate left the play yelling “Achale” at one another, a Mursi term that signifies “good,” “hello,” “thank you,” and everything nice.
After its local debuts are over, the production is anticipated to go on an international tour. A documentary on the play’s creation and theatrical performance would be made and aired on significant international channels. This show will continue to be produced by South Omo Productions for at least one more year before venturing into other projects that delve into other Ethiopian cultures and art.