Theatre production commemorates centenary of Bulhoek Massacre

Cast on a scene depicting Bulhoek Massacre.

A new show which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Bulhoek Massacre of 1921 will be staged in Cape Town this week.

The harrowing incident saw 193 worshippers shot dead for refusing to leave their mountain of prayer, eNtabelanga near Komani (now Queenstown) in Eastern Cape.

Nguvu ya Mbegu…eNtabelanga, a multilingual theatre production (performed in isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, SeTswana, and Swahili) draws its aesthetic from African storytelling traditions, incorporating dance, song, and ensemble work. Some performances will be accompanied by post-production conversations, exhibition, and virtual talks.

Originally devised by students at the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies under the direction of Mandla Mbothwe at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Nguvu ya Mbegu…eNtabelanga follows the story of prophet Enoch Mgijima, his followers the Israelites, and the land on which the Bulhoek massacre of 1921 would happen.

The play is an excavation of the tragic slaughter on 24 May 1921, where the Union of South Africa’s police and army shot and killed worshippers, leaving many wounded and others arrested, including Mgijima.

Nguvu ya Mbegu is a Swahili title meaning the power of the seed.

“The voices of Abantwana Bomgquba (the Children of the Earth) whisper into the ears of the present and future child, a reminder that they have never been alone. A reminder that it takes the weeds to grow the strength of a seed, regardless of the pain, and historical, racial and colonial injustices,” says director Mandla Mbothwe.

He is a multi-award-winning South African theatre-maker, published playwright, festival curator, director and art teacher who has been in the industry for over twenty years.

He is co-artistic director of the Magnet Theatre Company and has served as artistic director of the Steve Biko Foundation, and creative manager of Artscape Theatre Centre. Currently he is a senior lecturer at UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies.

The production boasts a stellar team with names such as Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre 2021 Thando Doni, internationally acclaimed choreographer Mzo Gasa, and award-winning musical director Zimbini Makwetu, to name a few.

Nguvu ya Mbegu…eNtabelanga opens at the Theatre Arts in Observatory today, Thursday October 21 and runs daily at 7:30pm until Saturday October 23. There will be an additional matinee performance at 2pm on Saturday.

Entry is R100 each and tickets can be bought online at theatrearts.co.za/show/Nguvu.

For more information call 072 412 7513 or email qondiswa@mudandfireparables.co.za