Latoya Newman

GROWING up surrounded by faction fighting in his village in Nkandla, northern KZN, Bonkinkosi Shangase knew he had to do something to show his people how they were damaging their communities.

“I have seen people widowed and orphaned as a result of these wars. I saw people killing each other for no apparent reason. So I decided to write something to show them what they were doing,” explained Shangase.

The result was the vibrant musical Maluju Zulu, which returns to the stage after six years next week.

“This piece is still relevant. Even today these faction wars continue in our rural communities. When you approach people and ask them why they are fighting, a lot of the time they don’t know. They are just continuing to fight generational wars that started between the different families, for whatever reason, years ago. In some cases the elders in the communities fought a long time ago and it’s now their sons and daughters who want to avenge their fathers’ deaths. They don’t know why they are fighting, they just continue fighting because if they don’t, they will be killed. So it’s a circle of destruction,” said Shangase.

He said the fighting was sparked by a number of factors, including political spats, historical wars between families and clans, land disputes and more.

“Faction fighting is always happening, yet there seems to be no strategy to find a solution. Amakhosi (traditional leadership), government – at all levels this is not being addressed enough. People need to learn to sit down and talk and avoid confrontation,” he said.

Now on a mission to revive enlightenment around the issue, Shangase revives his musical for a season at the Stable Theatre.

“I like to write about real-life situations. I hope that in reviving this piece we will educate and engage people on the importance of dialogue,” he said.

Maluju Zulu runs at the Stable Theatre from September 13 to 16.

Maluju Zulu tells a tale of love and war as clans go to battle over boundaries drawn by colonialism.

Focusing on a story of love struggling to survive in a context of brutal tribal wars, it reflects back on how borders created between local communities during British occupation led to ongoing strife.

Written and directed by Shangase, and starring Khulekani Kunene, with Bheki Hlabisa, Senzi Mbhele, Sibongile Dlamini Mthethwa, Bongani Mbatha and Siphamandla Zwane, the production is set when British forces occupied the village of Nkandla.

Tickets: R60 at the door. Schools performances: September 13 and 14 at 11am (R20 a student). Shows from September 13 to 15 at 6pm; 3pm matinee on September 16.