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Monday, September 29, 2008


Musical production by Faca Kulu next up at Catalina Theatre.

Next up at the Catalina is Faca Kulu’s Native Blues billed as “A musical integration of music rooted on the melodies and harmonies conceived by the melting pot of diverse cultures that constructed the walls and the streets of Durban city,” which opens at Catalina Theatre in Wilson’s Wharf on October 7.

Faca Kulu explains it as: “A musical integration of sounds from different walks of life interpreted by the natives dwelling and working the City of Durban in the late 50’s and throughout the decades that follow. This acappella musical comedy is based on the fond reminiscences of two old men who are the former members of an acappella musical group - Native Blues – of the style that was popular in the 50’s. The event that triggers the reminiscences of these two old buddies is the accusation from one, claiming that his friend used the group to win the love of his life, and his still current wife of 44 years. Together, the events unfold in a series of flashbacks. They are joined by other group members who help to narrate the story and provide stunning close part harmonies.

“Back in the day, six youngsters assembled and created a sound of music that was mostly popular with women because of its female oriented lyrical content,” continues Faca Kulu. “They became popular with the social gatherings that were happening mostly in the outskirts of the city. Also, their sound of music became a tool to make ends meet under harsh limitations offered by the regime of the time. Sadly, their music only got credit deserved from the street corners, shebeens and the beer halls of the slum of Umkhumbane. Suddenly, at old age, and in the permanent absence of the other four members, they come into terms with the fact that the Group Areas Act also bulldozed their aspirations of becoming renowned musicians.”

Faca Kulu cut his artistic teeth under the directorship of Gibson Kente in 1987, followed by the Upstairs Theatre Co under Saira Essa in 1988. He joined Committed Artists Arts Academy under the directorship of Mbongeni Ngema, performing in watershed musicals such as Sarafina, Township Fever and the movie version of Sarafina.

He also worked as a freelancing backing singer for recording musical bands like Bayete, Sakhile, Stimela, and Sankomota. In 1993, he was nominated for a Vita award as best supporting actor in a musical category.

In 1997, Faca Kulu was chosen to play a lead singing role in the original production of Walt Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway in New York. While in New York, he taught a master class in African singing and culture which saw him being honoured with a cultural outstanding award in 1999 by the Harlem community.

In 2001 he ventured into music recording and released his debut album titled Uhambo / The Journey under Sony music S.A. This album earned him a SAMA nomination in the best male category. In 2005 he became one of the lead singers in a musical group Bambata, under Gallo Music SA.

Kulu is involved with Ukhozi fm as an actor and a writer. Recently he performed the role of Mingus in the production Sophiatown at the Catalina Theatre in Durban. He also serves on the PANSA KZN Committee.

Natives Blues is performed by Thabani Mhlangu (Sguqa); Bonga Godfrey ‘Mtshotshovu’ Zulu (Mathambo); Sifiso Innocent Mngadi (Nsimbi); Phumlani J Mkhize (Ntwana Khabazela); Sandile Menze (Smakade) and Sikhosiphi Bhuti Manzi (Manzini).

Native Blues runs at Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf, from October 7 to November 2. Tickets R70 (R35 concessions) with Buy One Get One Free offers for the first week and thereafter on Tuesdays and Sundays. The production is available for corporate block bookings, charity fundraisers and show/meal deals. Bookings through Thandeka on 031 305 6889 or 031 305 7612 or email or

The Catalina Theatre is still functioning thanks to the generosity and support from Rainbow Chicken.