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AFRICA UMOJA (article first published : 2007-10-16)

Durban audiences are in for a right royal treat when one of South Africa’s most successful musicals, the internationally acclaimed – Africa Umoja opens at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom on November 1, 2007.

After touring over 26 countries, Africa Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness – the tale of South Africa, its people and their song, returns to South African shores.

Africa Umoja was created by Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni who met in the 70’s in the cast of the world-acclaimed Ipi Ntombi. They remained close and, over the years, decided to form their own show. As this new show took off, they had the generosity and the foresight to show a new generation of young artists the way to similar paths of self-fulfilment that they themselves had found in the early years of their own careers by harnessing their talent. The result is a show performed by a large cast of 35 young dancers, singers and musicians including a five-piece band.

Travelling on the beats of drums, from the dusty streets of Soweto to all the corners of the world’s best and biggest stages, Africa Umoja tells the moving tale of indigenous South African music - from the earliest rhythms to Kwaito.

A colourful and jubilant celebration of life, Africa Umoja features award-winning, internationally acclaimed choreography, exquisitely designed costumes and energy that audiences from all backgrounds have found infectiously delightful and uplifting.

The show begins with expressions of rural life through traditional love songs, lullabies and community driven festivals. The music of the city reflects the pain of the migrant labourers and their families. The audience journeys through the vibrant and colourful Sophiatown era, infused with its passion and nostalgia, and the cold stories of forced removals, yet the feet continue to stomp along with the explosions of gumboot dancing.

There are also the reminiscent sounds of the vibrant jazz that forced its way free from the constraints of the times and a thread of gospel music running through the tale recalls the incredible courage and faith of the people of the country as they lived through the country’s stormiest historical passages. The journey culminates in the celebratory and unifying sounds of Kwaito.

Despite its occasional moments of reflection and pathos, Africa Umoja is a salute to life that audiences – whatever their cultural backgrounds – have found infectiously delightful and uplifting. The 40-strong cast made up from a myriad of South African cultures has its own touching story to tell.

Africa Umoja runs from November 1, 2007, until January 13, 2008. Performances Wednesday and Thursdays at 19h30; Fridays at 17h00 and 20h00; Saturdays at 15h00 and 20h00 and Sunday at 15h00 and 19h00. Tickets range from R90 to R125 booked through Sibaya Box-Office on 031 580 5555 or at Computicket. There are group and corporate bookings available for festive season functions through 031 580 5104.




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