There are only three days left to watch 'Safarina! The Musical' at the Joburg Theatre. Picture: Supplied/Holistic Photography

Committed Artists Theatricals in association with the Joburg Theatre, opened ‘Sarafina The Musical” to the media and invited guests last week. The show is being performed on the Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre until Sunday 24 June 2018.

Directed by Dr Mbongeni Ngema, the show runs during Youth month to inspire and encourage young people while celebrating the centenary of South Africa finest humanitarians – the late statesman Nelson Mandela.

One of South Africa’s most iconic symbols of the struggle for social and political freedom and justice, Sarafina! was conceived and directed by Dr Mbongeni Ngema who has written and arranged the music and lyrics with additional songs by late Dr Hugh Masekela.

It is befitting that the audience was addressed by none other than Mam Graça Machel, who had heart-warming anecdotes to bestow upon a mesmerised crowd. Dr Mbongeni Ngema also took time to address those in attendance and treated them to a surprise performance from his next musical that he is currently working on; The Mandela Musical.

“Sarafina was an idea that came to me and I felt it was important as a child of the liberation struggle to create this musical. It was part of my contribution to the country at the time but I never expected such longevity. 32 years later the show with this new cast is just as moving and powerful as it was in 1986. I always strive to do my best at all times so it is great that even to this day people benchmark their work against Sarafina.” Dr Mbongeni Ngema.

It was a night to remember and no matter if you have seen the production before or if it was your first time, the performance left you slightly amused, completely in awe of the passionate emotive performance and a little uncomfortable about the truths that were hidden for so long.

“Opening night was wonderful – I felt I did my best and the support from friends and family was amazing. I really am very pleased and satisfied with myself and the work I did. The highlight must have been mama Graça being at the show; especially as I played Mandela in the closing act.

When she embraced me on stage she told me that I reminded her of her husband with some of the moves I did. I couldn’t be prouder to be acting Mandela and I can sense that the audience appreciates the words I am saying. All in all, I think every performance so far has been amazing. I am always ready and pushing myself to deliver my best performance.” Tshego Mafojane (Sarafina)

Sarafina! was adapted to become a school set work and it is studied by learners in schools across the African continent. The play, which depicts students involved in the 1976 Soweto Uprising against apartheid, was created in June 1986 and premiered at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg in June 1987, with Leleti Khumalo in the title role as the school girl activist, Sarafina!

The powerhouse musical took Broadway by storm in January 1988 during black history month culminating in a 2-year run on Broadway in Manhattan New York City and a 5-year tour of the United States of America. Concurrently a second cast of Sarafina! premiered in 1988 and went on to tour the world for 4 years which included the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and West Africa.

Sarafina! was later converted into a Hollywood Feature Film starring Whoopie Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo, Dr Mbongeni Ngema, Dr John Kani and Dr Mirriam Makeba with the sound track produced by Dr Mbongeni Ngema and Quincy Jones. This captured the imagination of the world and this engraved Sarafina! as a symbol of African triumph and hope the worl

The NAACP (National Advancement of Coloured Peoples) movement saluted this giant endeavour by an African Son of the soil, Dr Mbongeni Ngema with 11 image awards in Hollywood Beverly Hills. A Grammy award nomination and 5 Broadway Tony Award nominations were bestowed in his honour.

January 2017 saw the return of Sarafina! at the Pretoria State Theatre to an audience exceeding 50,000 during its stay from February 2017 to April 2017.

Tickets are still available on the Joburg Theatre website www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling 0861 670 670 from R150.