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BERGVILLE STORIES FOR NEWTOWN (article first published : 2004-04-3)

Duma Ka Ndlovu’s vibrant and dramatic production Bergville Stories will form part of the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture’s celebration of a decade of democracy to be held during this month’s dynamic Newtown arts festival.

The other acclaimed South African plays are Mary … Unfaithful Woman by Jullian Sekele-Mokoto, Dieketseng Mnisi’sThokoza and Devil’s Protest by Kere Nyawo.

In Bergville Stories, Duma Ndlovu decided to tell a story about an incident that took place in 1956 in his ancestral home, Bergville, in KZN when 22 men were convicted of killing five policemen during a war over dagga fields. The men were all hanged in one day.

“My aunt had told me about the incident, and it has stayed in my mind and haunted me ever since,” Ndlovu says. “I just could not fathom how a civilised government could hang an entire community in one morning.”

This event is intertwined with another real life drama when the local community barricaded residents of Merafe Hostel in Soweto inside the hostel for eight weeks. Ndlovu weaves these two tales, introducing an interesting element of African folktale into the tale.

Bergville Stories opened at The Playhouse in Durban in May 1996. It was also performed at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York as part of the Woza Afrika Festival. Ndlovu is now restaging the play to celebrate a decade of democracy. The cast of 10 includes Mduduzi Nombela, Skhumbuzo Mabizela, Mthandeni Mvelase and Mazwe Mhlongo.

Says Ndlovu: “I hope that the people who see the play today, will remember what we went through as various communities, and recommit themselves to the peace and stability that has been restored, and vow never to go back there again, because the wars were not worth it.”

Bergville Stories plays from April 8 to 18 at 20h00 in the Barney Simon Theatre at The Market. Book at the door or at Computicket.

More details from the Gauteng Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture on 011 355 2500.




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