Potato boycott show in demand

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Hardly a week after being unveiled, a musical revisiting South Africa's 1958 potato boycott is already in demand - locally and abroad.

The R22million musical, written and directed by internationally-renowned South African playwright Mbongeni Ngema, titled The Lion of the East, has already been booked to perform in Surinam, Jamaica and Trinidad.

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

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

It shows how Sibande, together with other farmworkers, were abused by white farmers. It highlights the impact of the potato boycott and Sibande's role in it.

The play also acknowledges Sibande's contribution to the struggle to bring about peace, democracy and development.

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

The interdict was set aside at the last minute.

Mpuma-langa premier Thabang Makwetla said the court outcome strengthened efforts to protect and promote South Africa's struggle heritage.

"The play promotes a good cause as it will bring to the public more education about the glorious 1958 potato boycott which was a fight to stop atrocities committed against farm labourers," he said.