Plays like How Long, I Believe and Too Late, among many others, spoke to the heart of what indigenous South Africans experienced under a repressive apartheid regime.
It is from the townships that legends like him have influenced the cultural, economic and political landscape of South Africa and various parts of the globe.
Kente was a theatre maker extraordinaire - he was a director, producer, playwright, music composer and choreographer of his own plays.
The father of township theatre is a title which he richly deserved, given the extent to which he wrote and performed plays which reflected on township life, and trained and inspired hundreds of black actors and singers at a time when black creativity was viewed as a threat and suppressed by the apartheid state.
Using the limited resources available in townships, Kente was a cardinal storyteller, creating musicals and plays that illustrated black pain, love and aspiration in the time of apartheid. He died on November 7, 2004.
To coincide with the 55th anniversary of Kente’s production of his first play, Manana, The Jazz Prophet, which featured celebrated musicians Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu in their early years, the Market Theatre is commemorating Kente’s life and works in a musical tribute of songs from the plays he produced.
The Gibson Kente Musical is produced by the Soweto Theatre and will be presented at the Market Theatre in partnership with the Joburg City Theatres.
The Gibson Kente Musical will immerse audiences in beautifully haunting sounds that Kente orchestrated in Dube, Soweto. It will be 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 the young man from a small town outside East London.
The Gibson Kente Musical will be on at The Market Theatre for a limited season from April 13-29.
Director: Makhaola Siyanda Ndebele
Set and Costume Designer: Nthabiseng Mokone
Lighting Designer: Sedi Moswane AV Designers: Makhaola Ndebele Sound Designer: Mthobisi CeleStage Manager: Sedi MoswanePerformed by: Billy Langa; Mxolisi and Siboniso (Soulphiatown); Gugu Mbongwa; Nobantu Baba; Ntsika Fana Ngxanga; Thembisile Khumalo; Xoli Bongwana; Paballo Sithe