Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Loyiso Gola’s show, Dude, Where’s My Lion? manages to be both gentle and uncompromising, challenging the “not at all diverse” audience to think about what racism is, and just how privileged we really are.
He’s friendly and charming, but he doesn’t pull any punches. Two (white) audience members reveal they used to live in South Africa. One says she is from Eastern Transvaal. “We don’t call it that any more,” Gola says with a smile,. “That’s an apartheid name.” The other says he was in the mining industry. Gola shakes his head and replies, ruefully, that miners were expected to live on £300 a month. “It’s not enough to eat.”
It’s a funny, carefully crafted show, making some very important points. The tale of his encounter with a homeless man in London, for example, is particularly sharp, highlighting the false narratives that we are fed, and which colour our impression of ‘Africa.’ Likewise, a bit about Gola’s education in a Muslim school shows that knowledge is vital for understanding. If this all sounds very serious, that’s because the underlying message is serious, but Gola’s comedic skill is what drives the show – and what makes his message accessible.
And it’s an important message. This isn’t a ‘preaching to the converted’ show. I’ll bet that most of us inside this little bunker consider ourselves liberal and anti-racist. But I, for one, leave feeling challenged and humbled, and with a determination to find out more about the countries and cultures that make up our world.