Playwright Sello Maseko’s award-winning musical, Angola Camp 13, returns to the State Theatre for a second time from a successful run at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda.

Set in Umkhonto we Sizwe’s (MK) training camp in Angola, the play gives an honest account of the brutal killings, corruption, money laundering, drugs and the pain of living in exile.

Maseko, who was born in exile, wrote the musical from his personal experience and tapped into narratives of events that took place between 1981 and 1985 - the years he describes as “drastic and bizarre times” at Camp 13.

“My parents were in the Struggle. My mother sang for the Amandla Cultural Ensemble, MK’s cultural group that was used to let the world know what was happening in South Africa. My father was an activist and poet. My uncle, Vuyisile Maseko, was killed at the very same camp.

“I took the stories I heard, my uncle’s experiences and the spirits I connected with in Malanje a few years ago and used my artistic responsibility to mirror what really happened back then and to bring enlightenment and peace,” said Maseko.

He said he wanted the play to honour “real” Struggle heroes and that he decided to tell the truth regardless of opposition from the ANC’s leadership.

“When I visited Malanje in Angola - an area where many of our comrades were killed by Unita alongside some of our own comrades - I felt the spirits of those great people speak to me to tell their stories,” he said.

“This story is timeless and South Africans need to know what really happened in exile. It is important to us new leaders. We look down on the real heroes without understanding what really happened because we know of people in our communities who went into exile for the liberation Struggle and returned as nobodies, while there are people who just mushroomed out of nowhere,” he said.

The play opened yesterday at the State Theatre, Pretoria, and will run until August 10.