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The setting of this play is South Africa when the apartheid policy was at its golden age. The white minority constitute themselves into lords by instituting laws which oppress and dehumanize the majority blacks and coloured in their fatherland. He uses this play to tell the world and also expose the evil embedded in the obnoxious policies of South African government during the apartheid era.

Sizwe Bansi is Dead" tells the story of Styles, an intelligent, capable, and talented man who leaves his job as a factory worker to follow his dream of owning a photography studio. Styles pursues his talent with a camera in order to preserve the faces and identities of his people, who would otherwise be forgotten by the rest of the world. The play also tells the story of Sizwe Bansi, a man condemned by his government to a life of poverty. Although he is willing and capable of work, the stamp in his government issued “passbook” refuses him a work permit and tells him that he must leave Port Elizabeth and return to his hometown of King William’s Town where there are no work opportunities. This government edict will, in all probability, result in the starvation of Sizwe and his family. Sizwe is taken in by a man named Buntu after he is discovered in a government raid. Sizwe hopes that Buntu wwill figure out some way for him to remain in Port Elizabeth and find a job to support his family, but Buntu can read and when he looks at Sizwe’s passbook he sees that he is three days past due in his return home. He knows Sizwe has no chance of finding a job or remaining in Port Elizabeth with the stamps in his book. However, Sizwe discovers a passbook belonging to a dead man and, after struggling with his decision to give up his own name, decides to adopt the identity of Robert Zwelinzima. The adoption of this new identity ensures that Sizwe will be able to look for a job and provide for his family.

In the early scenes of the play, Styles’s musings are interrupted by the entrance of a man named Robert Zwelinzima, who has come to have his picture taken so that he can send it to his wife and children back home

Over the course of the rest of the play, it is revealed that Robert Zwelinzima is actually Sizwe Bansi living under the new identity he has adopted. Just as Sizwe Bansi is forced to essentially “kill” himself in order to preserve his life and the life of his family, his story illustrates the ghostly existence of the black population of South Africa. They are told who they are, where to live, and how to live, by a book developed and stamped by white men. They are forced to give up their dignity and humanity in order to continue to exist. They are constantly treated as less than human and are certainly never given the respect they deserve. However, Styles’s motivation for his photography preserving the faces and memory of his people makes it clear that the taking of Sizwe Bansi’s portrait is a moment of hope and triumph. Sizwe Bansi has been forced to alter his name and identity in order to provide for his family,With this,Robert Zwelnzima resurrects to life,while Sizwe Bansi stops to exist. Buntu then assits Sizwe to get a job at Feltex. With this new job,he is given a good salary ehich makes Sizwe to become a good and responsible father. But this photo taken by Styles preserves him forever as both Sizwe Bansi and Robert Zwelinzima. It reveals that he is indeed a human being with an identity and a history. This photo will preserve his name and his life for the generations to come.
Hence,we can deduce ironically that the name Sizwe Bansi is dead and the new name Robert lives so that Sizwe Bansi could survive


Styles lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and used to work at the Ford Motor Company. He now owns a photography studio where he is his own boss and uses his photography skills to preserve the faces and memories of his people. Styles serves as the historical reference for the play as he narrates the details of the cultural environment of South Africa in the 1970s.

Sizwe Bansi
The protagonist of the play, Sizwe has a wife and four children in King William’s Town and has come to Port Elizabeth to look for work. His request for an official permit is denied and he is told to return home. Sizwe is able to switch his papers for the papers of a dead man and take on the dead man’s identity so that he will be able to find a job and support his family.

Buntu is the friend who convinces Sizwe to assume the dead man’s identity. He is a good man and generous friend: he lets Sizwe sleep on his couch; takes him out drinking; and helps him find a way to stay in town. After Sizwe assumes the dead man’s identity, Buntu helps Sizwe find a decent job.

1. Theme of racial discrimination
2.Theme of survival
3. Theme of identification

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