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Umoja makes a welcome return to Soweto Theatre Print E-mail
19 June 2017

If the premier of Africa Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness at the Soweto Theatre on Thursday June 14 was anything to go by, then Johannesburg theatregoers are in for a huge treat.

The production, which runs until Sunday June 25, is making a welcome return to Soweto after it captivated audiences with its high-energy performances at this majestic and iconic entertainment venue in only two shows in 2016.

On Thursday night, locals packed the Red Theatre to its rafters and were not disappointed because, right from the first song, the performances were simply awe-inspiring.

Gregory Mkhabela, the soft-spoken and dignified Africa Umoja narrator who has been with the production for more than 12 years, won the audience’s hearts as soon as he introduced the performers and explained the continued significance of the production all these years since the advent of South Africa’s democracy and freedom.

Called Mkhulu Bae by some and Morgan Freeman by others because of his greying hair and calm demeanour, Mkhabela received a loud round of applause from the younger members of the audience for his attempt at dabbing. Never missing a beat, he told stories of how during the dark days of apartheid music helped Mzansi people remain dignified.

The performance of traditional songs and dance and the riot of colourful costumes took the audience on a historic journey. The re-enactment of the jovial and Sophiatown era had the crowd cheering themselves hoarse as they sang along and cheered in appreciation.

Africa Umoja remains rich in its authenticity as a vehicle to narrate the story of resilience in the face of adversity. The explosive energy, the colourful outfits and the mixture of the country’s rich cultures make Africa Umoja’s storytelling even more compelling. It is a jubilant celebration of life that audiences found delightful, empowering and uplifting. It is a story of resistance, love, hardships and community spirit.

The talented cast of more than 30 dancers, drummers and singers has such a great presence. Their rendition of all-time favourites such as Egoli Jive, Siliwelile, Bawo Thixo Somandla, Take Me High, Jikela Emaweni, Pata Pata, Qongqothwane, Umoja, Paradise Road and Long Road to Freedom, left many people with goose bumps.

An extended standing ovation showed just how much the audience appreciated the performance.
Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni, the brains behind Africa Umoja, should be applauded for such a brilliant, top-drawer production.

Tickets are available at R100 per person and the show ends this coming Sunday on June 25.

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Last Updated on 19 June 2017