Gibson kente to be honoured in a musical
The Gibson Kente Tribute Show will run at the Market theatre for a limited season from 13-29 April
The father of township theatre, the great Gibson Kente is finally being honoured with a musical which is set to run at The Market Theatre this month.
The musical tribute coincides with the 55th anniversary of Kente’s first play called Manana - The Jazz Prophet which featured celebrated musicians like Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu.
Kente, who moulded careers of South African greats such as Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Siyabonga Twala and Mbongeni Ngema to name a few, will have his life and legacy showcased in an enthusiastic musical directed by Makhaola Ndebele.
“Have you seen Sikhalo the musical written, produced and directed by Bra Gib? The music is amazing, the story line is epic. It is a South African story with story parallels to the Greek play Oedipus Rex. It’s really gripping and prophetic stuff,” exclaimed Ndebele.
“It has been an exciting, humbling journey but painful at the same time. Painful in a sense that he worked in a hostile time during apartheid and therefore his contribution was not as recognised as it deserved to have been. This is a homage to the music, memory and legacy of a South African theatrical great,” Ndebele said.
Some of Ndebele’s previous works include The Manhattan Brothers Tribute and Gone Native, which featured late trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
He feels it is imperative and necessary that giants like Kente are celebrated in local theatres and that this tribute is a montage of vignette from Kente’s plays and most importantly showcases the music he produced.
Kente, who died in 2004 of illness, produced 23 plays and television dramas between 1963 and 1992. He was also responsible for producing some of the country’s musicians and many past and present prominent artists including the late Brenda Fassie, owe their first opportunities on stage to him.
“I first worked with Bra Gib in 1981and my fondest memory of him was in one of my rehearsals and the character I played had a very emotional monologue. At the end of the monologue I kept on sobbing and Bra Gib came to me to embrace me. He said to me in Xhosa, ‘hayi xhegu suyithatha serious siyadlala kaloku (No old man, don’t take it serious we are playing here).
“I believe the Soweto Theatre should be named after him and have a colossal statue of Bra Gib erected in the front of it,” says renowned stage and screen actor Sello Maake Ka Ncube.
The musical titled The Gibson Kente Musical is expected to immerse audiences in beautifully haunting sounds that Kente himself orchestrated in Dube, Soweto. The music production is meant to display local and raw talent, in true Bra Gib’s style, featuring young artists like Billy Langa, Nobantu Baba, Ntsika Ngxanga and Xoli Mbongawana to name but few.
“It’s a spectacular collage honouring his legacy and his exceptional body of work that was composed with a brave stylistic artistry driven by an array of emotions. The music will ignite the memories of yesteryear and the passion that was possessed by Gibson Kente,” said Lusanda Zokufa of The Market Theatre.