Mxolisi Ngubane will play the part of King Cetshwayo in the musical of the same title.
Mxolisi Ngubane will play the part of King Cetshwayo in the musical of the same title.

Actor proud to take centre stage in King Cetshwayo musical

By SIPHELELE BUTHELEZI Time of article published Jun 17, 2018

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DURBAN - MXOLISI Ngubane’s physique and facial features resemble those of the late Zulu Monarch, King Cetshwayo, so it was no surprise when the burly 45-year-old performer landed the lead role in King Cetshwayo: The Musical.

Ngubane usually works behind the scenes as a production manager, but when lead actor Mduduzi Nombela was unavailable for the local production in Durban, it gave him a chance to take centre stage.

“It basically happened by chance, but I have no doubts because I am also an actor by profession but I have been working more behind the scenes as a production manager,” said Ngubane.

The Musical will premiere at the Durban Playhouse on Thursday and run until Saturday.

It will be the first time local audiences witness the musical on South African shores.

Last year, the production had its world premiere in the UK during a celebration to mark the 135th anniversary of the Zulu monarch’s invitation by Queen Victoria.

“I was part of this production from the beginning, I made sure everything was ready before we travelled to Wales for the world premiere. It’s not a new production whose storyline I am not familiar with,” Ngubane said.

“After being selected to play the lead role, I did more research about the king to get into him as a character and to understand his behaviour. I am doing more rehearsals to bring the audience the best performance ever,” said Ngubane.

The play tells the history of the late king and portrays the battle of Isandlwana where the British army was defeated by Zulu warriors led by King Cetshwayo in 1879.

Ngubane has been part of productions such as Moipone and Buffalo.

“I am still going strong. I enjoy theatre because it provides that intimate connection with the audience,” said the Inchanga-born performer who has been in the industry for over 20 years.

The musical is produced by well known playwright Jerry Pooe and also features praise poet Mbuso Khoza.

Pooe said the story of King Cetshwayo was told through vibrant dance, music, pictures and video. He said although the Battle of Isandlwana took place more than a century ago, it was important for generations to know history, especially at a time when the land issue was dominating social debate.

“For anyone to shape his or her future, knowing the past is important. They must understand the land we are now saying must be returned to its rightful owners, where its struggle began, how it was stolen from us and how we were divided by the west and ended up fighting one another while they were looting our land and wealth,” said Pooe.


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