Home News Musical comedy to mark centennial of South Africa’s ANC

Musical comedy to mark centennial of South Africa’s ANC

Published on 11/11/2011

A musical comedy inspired by the 100-year history of the ruling African National Congress will mark the party's centennial next year, the Market Theatre said Friday.

“Number 43” by award-winning playwright Mbongeni Ngema, to open in October 2012 at the famed Johannesburg theatre, is named after an ANC safe house in neighbouring Swaziland where exiled fighters, including President Jacob Zuma, spent time.

“This story is a fitting centrepiece for the celebration of 100 years of South Africa’s struggle and the ANC’s existence,” Ngema told the Sowetan newspaper. “This is an important part of history that must be captured for legacy reasons, so that young people remember where we come from.”

Ngema created one of South Africa’s most famous musicals, “Sarafina”, which went on to international productions and later became a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and the late Miriam Makeba.

He was also embroiled in a scandal over the sequel, “Sarafina 2”, a government-funded anti-AIDS play that was scrapped after it was revealed that it was costing 14.2 million rand ($1.8 million, 1.3 million euros) to stage after a series of flawed tenders.

Ngema told the Sowetan that he did not yet have a budget for the new play.

“We are still busy finalising the budget. But I can say at this stage that it will cost a few million rands to do this musical successfully. I can also confirm that I have been assigned by the ANC to do the musical,” he said.

The ANC says it is spending more than 100 million rands on its celebrations, but newspaper reports have put the price tag at closer to 400 million rands.