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Thursday, September 4, 2014


(Three of the key role players in the first Botho Heritage Festival: Left: Jerry Pooe and Gcina Mhlophe and right: Madala Kunene)
Wushwini Arts, Culture and Heritage Centre launches a ground-breaking new festival in September.

Wushwini Arts Culture and Heritage Centre, spearheaded by its founder, Jerry Pooe, will host a four-day arts festival titled Botho Heritage Festival ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’. This exciting cultural initiative runs from September 11 to 14 2014 at Wushwini, overlooking the scenic Inanda Dam in KwaZulu-Natal’s famed Valley of 1000 Hills.

Says Festival Director Jerry Pooe: “We warmly welcome all to our Botho Heritage Festival. This first annual festival is given in salute of South Africa’s 20 Years of Democracy, while celebrating our freedom as South Africans. We also celebrate who we are. Without our heritage, our culture, our roots, our history, we are a lost nation. ‘Botho’ is a Sotho word meaning ‘ubuntu’. Non practice of ubuntu, which is what defines us as Africans, leaves us soulless humans. It is thus we launch the festival by beating the drums to revive ubuntu bethu.

“Botho Heritage Festival features a vibrant programme of acts by a strong line-up of groups and companies from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Free State, showcasing quality dance, music, theatre, storytelling, exhibitions and praise poetry. We are sincerely grateful to Ethekwini Municipality and KZN Department of Arts and Culture for supporting the festival, not forgetting all the participants who believe in the vision of this festival, and all Wushwini and Eager Artists staff for the hard work in ensuring the success of this festival. We invite you to participate and to enjoy the rare experience in our Kingdom.”

September 11 from19h00 to 20h00: Drumming to Unite Africa, the festival’s opening event, is directed by Roel Twinstra. The audience will drum, calling for peace while celebrating 20 years of democracy. They will be greeted by a spectacular pageant of images and movement from Zulu dancers, Shembe movement practitioners and Isicathamiya artists, promising a colourful event that will linger in the memories of all who experience it.

September 11 from 20h00 to 21h00: Izimpande Zabangoma, a magical dance of abangoma. Directed by Thapelo Motloung, this respectful celebration of the power of Diviners and the Ancestral World has never been done before in a theatrical form. This experience offers an unforgettable spiritual journey. Following the festival’s official 15-minute launch at 21h00, an hour-long Tribute to Miriam Makeba concert performed by Zulublue brings the evening to a rousing close.

September 12 from 11h00 to 12h00: Itshe LikaNtunjambili, an hour-long story-telling session directed by Jerry Pooe features a powerful Zulu fireside story, told in a theatrical story-telling style, about twins who were not supposed to be born because they were a symbol of bad luck. Their parents wanted to protect them but they were forced by circumstances to get rid of both the children, who ended taking in the refuge of a magic stone.

Along with further performances of this act, other daytime attractions on September 12 include a Galimotto story-telling session directed by Mbheki Mabhida, and performances of a dramatization of well-known Zulu fable, Tselane and The Giants, directed by Bheki Mqadi. The tale is about a young girl Tselane who so loved her home that when the family moved to another village she refused to move. Her mother allowed her to stay behind and promised to bring her food every day, but when the giants discovered that Tselane was staying alone they tried all the tricks to eat her.

September 12 from 16h00 to 17h00: Durban University of Technology Head of Drama, Professor Debbie Lutge, explores the deeper meaning of Ubuntu expressed through the Arts, as she reflects on her work the performing arts sector.

September 12 at 18h00: Opening of an art exhibition themed around the title Girls Coming of Age.

September 12 from 19h00 to 20h00: Recital of Zulu sacred music performed by renowned musical veterans Madala Kunene and Patti Nokwe. Other entertainment lined up for the evening include Jika, directed by Moses Letshuti, and a programme simply titled Praise Songs, directed by Jerry Pooe, a celebration of the power in praise poetry focusing on Zulu Kings celebrating them through their praises (izibongo), amahubo and dance.

September 13 at 10h00: Story-telling session delivered by Gcina Mhlophe, followed by workshop on The Art of Story Telling by this internationally renowned mistress of the genre who is also a best-selling author.

September 13 from 12 noon to 13h00: Theatre director Siza Mthembu leads a session titled Preserving Our Indigenous Culture Through Arts in which he reflects on the indigenous works he has done, with other topics including Thapelo Motloung Reflecting on Izimpande Zabangoma and Spirits and Bones.

September 13 from 13h20 to 14h30: Jika, directed by Moses Letshuti, suggests ways in which poverty, squalor and political rhetoric could be eliminated. In grappling with the philosophy of critical consciousness, it attempts to show practical ways to get South Africa out of political and economic quagmire after “revolution”. Once South Africa dreamt that “revolution” was the only way to solve its problems. Now a negotiated settlement is the reality.

September 13 at 14h30: Ezekial directed by Bongumusa and Musawenkosi Shabalala, this stage production explores the life of Ezekiel Dhlamini the legendary South African boxer who called himself King Kong. The show’s story traces his rise and fall, portrayed in an unromantic, fresh version written by Holland Celebrated Musicals writer Dick van den Heuvel. The story is set in the 1950’s and is told through vibrant music and dance. It is presented by Umsindo Theatre Projects from Umlazi.

September 13 from 16h30 to 17h30: Camagu by Dawn Zwane, a deeply rooted indigenous music concert with Princess KaDinuZulu sounds presented uniquely by the younger generation with respect and honour.

September 13 at 18h00: Izimpande Zabangoma directed by Thapelo Motloung.

September 13 at 19h00: Umakhweyana Meets Uhadi offers a fusion of Umakhweyana and Uhadi, two indigenous instruments that are sacred to women, Umakhweyana played by Zulu women and Uhadi performed by Xhosa women, accompanied by three dancers and a drummer, all females. This is a mixture of storytelling, dance and song, displaying colourful costumes and other indigenous instruments. The concert will be directed by Jerry Pooe, choreographed by Reggie Denster and music by Nhlakanipho Maphumulo.

September 13 at 20h00: The Girls of Aboke, directed by Roel Twijnstra with music by Jerry Pooe, is a searing drama dealing with the 139 girls who were abducted on October 9, 1996, from their boarding school in Aboke, North of Uganda. The school principal, Sister Rachel, courageously follows the rebels who abducted the girls. Her journey brings her eye to eye with one of the cruellest of rebel movements, the LRA, and its leader Joseph Kony. Three actors tell the story of Ann, one of the abducted girls who was able to escape, and one of the child soldiers who abducted the girls and later escaped from the LRA. Together they tell their story while trying to reach the civilized world. But the rebels are behind them, will they make it and will the people of their village accept them if they come home?

September 13 from 21h00 to 22h00: A maskandi concert offering a fusion of maskandi and amahubo performed in a theatrical style by a highly talented performer Nhlakanipho Maphumulo.

September 14 from 12 noon to 16h00: Celebrating Diverse Cultures through Dance and Cuisine enables the audience to share and embrace a wide spectrum of cultures through performances of Bhaca Dance, Zulu Dance, Indian Dance, Portuguese Dance, Umshado Dance, Isigekle and Gumboot Dance.

Botho Heritage Festival tickets are R30 per show and R60 for a day pass (schools R15 per show). The Sunday Dance Programme is free. Tickets will be available at the gate, and tickets booked in advance can be obtained at Stable Theatre on 031 309 2513.