Colours: A Monologue & Selected Works


Rory Kilalea


Ashgrove Publishing



The Diary of David and Ruth . One-Act Play

A lover’s Struggle for Africa

The Diary of David and Ruth was written after the end of the guerrilla war which ended white rule in Zimbabwe. Rory Kilalea was teaching in Jerusalem at that time and the situation there brought to mind the naivite of young hopes and confusion during the Zimbabwean conflict. The play premiered in Jerusalem, with Jane and Rory Kilalea playing the roles.

Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia, and the play traces the reactions of two white Africans living through the transition from Colonialism to Black African rule.

The period covered is approximately from 1950 to 1980. The play was invited to the ‘Best of Fringe’ Festival in London (1982); was voted ‘Critic’s Choice’ with Athod Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys, in Johannesburg, South Africa (1983) and has also played to excellent reviews in Zimbabwe and Israel.

It is a play that is rooted in the history of pre-independence Zimbabwe, from a white perspective.

The Missing Cow



Short Story

With the dissolution of medical and old age care, there are many people who have been left to fend for themselves in Zimbabwe. Most affected are the black citizens, who have found themselves in poverty. Rory wrote this short story as a response to work he was doing for the BBC on the options for the aged in this country. This award winning story traces some of these people, and those who are helping them.

The telephone rang.
Four o’clock in the morning?
My agent.
Waking up has never been one of my strong suits. Dawn is hell,
pre-dawn is worse and Sarah’s Scottish voice was a bloody intrusion.
‘Will you do an article undercover?’
‘I’m still in bed, if that’s what you mean!’
She did not laugh.
‘I need an expose. How your society is being fractured.’
‘What about?’
‘Old age people in Zimbabwe,’ she said.
Then the phone went dead. God, some of these people are so
naive. They think that a call at a stupid hour is less likely to be monitored
by our spies with counterfeit ray Bans and earphones.
Anyway, if they want you, they’ll get you.
The old of Zimbabwe?
We never hear about them. AIDS and politics, yes, but no one
mentions old people.
Her e-mail was terse. Leads of goodly folk who helped the aged
and the needy.
‘It has to be edgy. Otherwise, I can’t use it.’
Sarah’s normal assumption – you may be white, but you’re from
Africa, so you don’t know how to write. A sort of colonial amanuensis.
First cigarette.
Opening is the key.
‘Zimbabwe. Formerly a British Colony. gained majority rule in
1980, it is symbolised by the massive ruins of a major empire called,
the great Zimbabwe. The word “Zimbabwe” comes from the local
language and it means “House of Stone”. Admirably preserved as a
tourist destination, the massive walls are surrounded by well-watered
and well-fed lawns.’
An irony.
For while this stone symbol is being cared for, the old of Zimbabwe,
those who were the building blocks of this nation, are not.’
Sarah had contacted the Tom Benyon trust in the UK which
raised money for old people.
‘A widow. English. over eighty. not a penny to her name.’
‘Bomb on out on the Seke road,’ said the contact lady. Bit Rhodie,
I thought. Next thing she would be using intimate slang, like calling
me ‘ox’!
‘There’s a cement cross near her gate,’ she said.
Sounded like a cemetery.
‘Let me know if you need a life raft,’ she said.
Zimbabwe directions are more psychic than in other countries.
Maybe it is because we are Born Again trackers - or the street signs
are now coffin handles? All I know is that, we seem to get to the destination.
or so I thought.
I drove through white soil, and smells of the bush. Acacia’s spread
over the flat land, untouched by urban destruction.
Hidden behind khaki elephant grass, I nearly missed the cross. A
long dirt road led to an end. That was it.
I wandered around. A rank vlei, one hut in the distance, and a cow
shed. It was like Mashonaland might have been a hundred years ago.
‘Mrs Smith!’ I called. There was a rustle from the bush in front of
me and a woman pushed her way through the grass. Slight, almost
too thin, she wore a shawl over her head, multicoloured wools faded
into a wash of pink. Her face was very lined, brown-patched from
the sun.
She smoothed her hands over her skirt. It was made of black plastic
bin liners, neatly stitched together. The pocket was an old Gloria
Flour cotton bag. Her knuckles were bony. Fierce strong hands, as
if they were grasping on to life.

‘I have only one cow,’ she said, and laid down her sickle on the
We walked to the cow shed.
‘Close the door,’ she ordered. Her voice was cracked, knife edged.
As soon as the door was padlocked, I accustomed my eyes to the
gloom. There were no windows. The only source of light came from
a ventilation hole near the asbestos roof.
A bed was in the corner, near an open fire. At one end of the room
was a stall, with freshly cut grass and a makeshift trough.
‘Cow eating outside,’ she said. ‘I take her in here for night. Because
of them...’
The stall looked as if no animal had ever been near it.
I listened to her accent. It was not British.
‘No,’ she cackled. ‘I am. But I am not.’ She prodded me to sit on
the box near the bare springs of her bed.
Blue eyes in weathered skin. I looked around. one cracked cup.
one empty pot waiting near the fire. The rest of the utensils were
old tin cans and plastic bottles which we usually throw away.
‘You are not English?’ I started.
‘My husband. he British. But I not. And then he die.’
What was that accent? Croatian?
‘I am born in Poland,’ she chuckled. ‘But it was not good there.
That man Hitler. He was not good man. I walk long way. Over
mountains. Very long way. But I was young.’
Brief pause, as if forgetting.
‘I survive.’
Stories of pogroms, against Jews, Catholics, anyone who was not
of the chosen race struggled in her memory. ‘I must find cow.’ She muttered, bustled me out into the glare.
Outside seemed safer.
‘There!’ She whispered. ‘There they are!’
She glared across the vlei.
I turned.
‘No! Don’t you look!’ She said desperately. ‘He think you bringing
money. He will come for me tonight!’

Zimbabwe Boy


Short Story

[Homosexuals are] lower than dogs and pigs – a scourge planted by
the white man on a pure continent.
Robert Mugabe, 1993
Male homosexuality is still illegal in Zimbabwe and punishable
by up to 10 years’ jail, under laws originally introduced by
British during colonial rule.
Former Zimbabwean President Canaan Banana was convicted
of sodomy and abusing his power to sexually assault and carry
out ‘unnatural acts’ with men, mostly on his presidential staff,
including bodyguards, a cook, a gardener and soccer players on
a team he sponsored.

It was a dark night in Harare – the yellow lights of Second Street
were lonely, like the lights in an operating theatre. As Tendai turned
into Moffat Street, he looked across, merely out of habit, at Africa
unity Square, the place where white settlers had first raised the
union Jack in the 1890s.
The park was renamed after Independence when white rule ended in the
new Zimbabwe. There were a couple of people wandering through;
silhouettes heading towards the commuter omnibuses, some late, some tired
after finishing their duties as night watchmen, or petrol attendants, or hotel
But no tourists were in the park. Perhaps it was too early. You
could always tell the visitor. The black American looked like
a rap singer, trying to find his tune. The whites were normally middle aged
men, wandering along the paths pretending they were interested
in the flowers, staring at young men sprawled on benches.

A shadow park.

The fountain was hardly working, the Jacaranda trees
were bald, the Coca Cola hut was closed, the left-over stalls of the
flower vendors were watched over by sleepy men wrapped up in
blankets, lying on old plastic bags.
The flower sellers main business was in wreaths and flowers for the
dead. Big business these days in Zimbabwe. Death was the source
of much life. like the undertaker who opened up his shop on rotten
row, opposite the Sheraton hotel, with his sign:
Shamwari Undertakers. The Last Ones to Let You Down!



A Monologue

Colours was written during the period when the Zimbabwean government
began to condemn whites and citizens who were not ‘African’.
The issue of HIV/AIDS and the situation of mixed-race
Zimbabweans became the starting point for this monologue.


This is a monologue by a Coloured woman sitting in a cemetery in
Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia… but it could be anywhere in Southern
A Coloured woman in Southern Africa is so-called because she is
of mixed – black and white – parentage.
This is the story of a woman and her memories… love’s highlights
and losses.
A story of survival in Southern Africa today.
She does not have a name. She cannot. Nor should.
She is an African woman. Determined, forgiving. A survivor.
This is a story which only represents a fraction of what real people
are going through…
Colours is only one small part of our African voice.