The story of one of the unsung heroines of the 1950s, Regina Brooks, is finally going to be told in a musical making its way to Soweto theatres next month.
Gone Native: The Life and Times of Regina Brooks, is about a white woman who defied the infamous apartheid-era Immorality Act, which barred people from loving or marrying a person of another race.
The musical will be set against the backdrop of her life starting from 1955 when she wanted to be reclassified as a coloured woman to enable her to live with black people. She also wanted to keep her coloured baby, called Thandi, who was fathered by a black man.
At the height of racial segregation in South Africa in the 1950s, Brooks was caught in a grey area, rejected by both black and white people, even though all her life she had felt at home with black people.
When Brooks moved to Eldorado Park during the Soweto Uprisings, she witnessed how the area was as discriminatory towards black people as the white areas she came from, especially as she was housing and hiding black students during that time.
Jazz icon Hugh Masekela is the musical director and Marietjie Bothma is in the lead role.
Bothma, a multilingual woman, whose mother tongue is Afrikaans, was chosen because she has a striking resemblance to Brooks.
She went from being homeless, to being the Master of Ceremonies at President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration celebrations.
But what sealed her fate in being cast in the musical was her appearance in an advert speaking fluent Zulu.
“She was the perfect Regina,” says Makhaola Ndebele, writer and director of the musical.
“It was important for the female lead to be fully bilingual and be able to sing in Zulu.”