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In honour of the Lion of the East

By unknown | Mar 16, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Hardly a week after being unveiled, a musical revisiting South Africa's 1958 potato boycott is set to be in demand both locally and abroad.

The R22million musical, written and directed by internationally renowned playwright Mbongeni Ngema , titled The Lion of the East, has already been invited to perform in countries such as Suriname, Jamaica and Trinidad.

The potato boycott was sparked by an expose ran in Drum magazine following a tip-off by the late ANC activist Gert Sibande.

The play, which was performed to a packed audience in Sibande's home town Bethal on Friday, was funded by Mpumalanga's department of sport, culture and recreation.

It shows how Sibande and other farmworkers were abused by farmers protected under apartheid.

It also highlights the political impact of the powerful potato boycott and Sibande's crucial role in organising it.

The play also acknowledges Sibande's contribution to the struggle to bring about democracy.

Ngema's play got off to a rocky start when Sibande's family obtained an urgent Pretoria High Court interdict stopping the show, saying they were not consulted about it.

The interdict was set aside at the last minute.

Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla said: "The play will educate the public about the glorious 1958 potato boycott which exposed the atrocities committed against farm labourers.

"The boycott drew nationwide and international attention on the plight of farmworkers."


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