Botho Heritage Festival 2014
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 11-14 September 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.”
Drumming to Unite Africa, the festival’s opening event, is directed by Roel Twinstra. This will be held on Thursday 11 September from 7pm to 8pm. The audience will drum, calling for peace while celebrating twenty 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.
Drumming will be followed by 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. Running from 8pm to 9pm, this experience promises to enthral its audience while taking them on unforgettable spiritual journey. Following the festival’s official 15-minute launch at 9pm, an hour-long Tribute to Miriam Makeba concert performed by Zulublue brings the evening to a rousing close.
The programme on Friday 12 September opens at 11am with Itshe LikaNtunjambili. This 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 12 September 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.
From 4pm to 5pm, 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. The evening’s programme continues from 6pmwith the opening of an art exhibition themed around the title Girls Coming of Age.
This will be followed by an hour-long recital from 7pm 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.
The programme on Saturday 13 September opens at 10am with a 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.
From 12 noon to 1pm, 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.
Between 1.20 and 2.30pm, a repeat performance follows of Jika, directed by Moses Letshuti. Jika 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 our country out of political and economic quagmire after “revolution”. Once South Africa dreamt that “revolution” was the only way to solve her problems, now a negotiated settlement is the reality.
This will be followed at 2.30pm by 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.
Between 4.30 and 5.30pm, the festival audience can enjoy Camagu by Dawn Zwane, a deeply rooted indigenous music concert with Princess KaDinuZulu sounds presented uniquely by the younger generation with respect and honour. This will be followed at 6pm by Izimpande Zabangoma directed by Thapelo Motloung, and at 7pm by Umakhweyana Meets Uhadi. The latter Ubumbano concert programme 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.
At 8pm a performance follows of the stage production, The Girls of Aboke, directed by Roel Twinstra with music by Jerry Pooe. This searing drama centres around the 139 girls who were abducted on 9 October 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 tells 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, Norman. 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?
Saturday evening’s programme ends with a maskandi concert between 9pm and 10pm, offering a fusion of maskandi and amahubo performed in a theatrical style by a highly talented performer Nhlakanipho Maphumulo.
The Botho Heritage Festival 2014 concludes on Sunday 14 September with a four-hour programme of dance, starting at 12 noon. Titled Celebrating Diverse Cultures Through Dance and Cuisine, this enables the audience members 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. The Sunday Dance Programme is free. Schools are R15 per show. Tickets will be available at the gate, and tickets booked in advance can be obtained at Durban’s Stable Theatre (031-3092513).