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The House of Truth opens to rave reviews at Soweto Theatre Print E-mail
15 May 2017

It’s very easy to see why Sello Maake Ka Ncube has received rave reviews for his portrayal of Can Themba, one of the doyens of South African black journalism.

As a storyteller, his delivery is always captivating, eloquent and so real. On a wet and freezing Friday night, Maake Ka Ncube enthralled theatre-goers when he brought The House of Truth to the Soweto Theatre following a successful run at The Market Theatre in January.

Maake Ka Ncube – also well known for his excellent roles in soapies and TV drama series such as Generations, Scandal! and The Queen – took the capacity audience on a riveting journey into the past (and present) as he laid bare Themba’s trials and tribulations at the height of apartheid. It was real and uncensored. And the audience loved it, peppering the performance with applause throughout the two-hour one-man show.

It’s the story that does not get old. Such history lessons are important for South Africans today, lest they forget where they come from. From the time he steps onto the stage, sits down, lights a lamp and starts hitting the typewriter furiously to the moment he takes the bow to a standing ovation, Maake Ka Ncube’s performance is both flawless and poignant. The humour and wit, while captivating, also deliver the truth.

Siphiwo Mahala’s creative writing and Maake Ka Ncube’s acting genius transport you back to the iconic Sophiatown, in particular Themba’s apartment at 111 Ray Street, where he vented his frustrations of his ill-treatment at the hands of a paranoid apartheid regime.

Although he holds a degree, the Transvaal Education Department frustrates him until he leaves teaching. He lands in the Drum magazine newsroom but quickly gets frustrated because he doesn’t draw a salary as a journalist. Despite being the associate editor, and effectively running the newsroom, his white editor gets all the credit.

But there is a lot happening in Sophiatown – on the street and in shebeens – the gangs and beauty queens, enough to write home about.

Maake Ka Ncube’s performance is compelling, revealing how apartheid broke people down, driving the likes of Themba and some of his colleagues into exile or into their early graves as they turned to alcohol.

Lives were ruined, Themba and others failed to reach their full potential because of the frustrations they had to contend with at every turn. Themba was, like Nat Nakasa before him, driven into exile and his work was banned by the regime. He spent his last years in Manzini, Swaziland, but the separation from his family and country was just too much to bear. He died in 1968 aged 43.

The House of Truth runs at Soweto Theatre in Jabulani until Sunday May 21.

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Last Updated on 15 May 2017