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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Ngema's play axed

By unknown | May 06, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The Lion of the East: Gert Sibande and the Potato Boycott, the play presently touring Mpumalanga, has been kicked out of the Mbombela municipality hall in favour of a festival of local white choirs.

Angry patrons were turned away from the hall where the R22million play that depicts the life of ANC activist and leader of the infamous potato boycott, Gert Sibande, was to be staged.

Sibande exposed oppression and exploitation of blacks by white farmers on potato farms in Bethal, Mpumalanga.

The organisers of the musical see this as racist.

The play, which was staged at the Nelspruit Civic from April 25, was forced to pack up two weeks before its scheduled last day because the municipality had reportedly booked it for a white choir festival.

The play was supposed to end on May 17.

But municipal officials claim that when they allowed the show to be staged in their hall it was agreed that from May 3 there would be another show which had already booked the hall.

'We are disturbed by their allegations because they were told some time ago that the place was booked by other people from May 3," said municipal spokesperson Joseph Ngala.

But Mbongeni Ngema, director of the play, told Sowetan yesterday that the municipality assured them the place was available until May 17.

"You will remember that when the play was first launched there was a lot of noise, especially from white people," Ngema said.

"Critics thought the play would fail and when they realised it was liked all over, it came as a shock to them."

He said he tried in vain to get executive mayor Lassy Chiwayo to intervene. Ngema's sentiments were echoed by Mpumalanga cultural affairs general manager Mafika Lubisi.


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