Gibson Kente Lecture, posthumously in his honour

SOWETO THEATRE announces an exclusive Gibson Kente Lecture honouring the groundbreaking contributions of the late legendary playwright, whose lasting impact on South Africa’s performing arts remains unparalleled.

By hosting this exclusive Gibson Kente Lecture, Soweto Theatre not only pays homage to the theatrical pioneer but also reaffirms its commitment to fostering a dynamic and culturally rich environment while maintaining its role in promoting the essence of South Africa’s performing arts, with the mission that it would continue to be a beacon of creativity and expression in the community.

This enlightening lecture series provides a unique opportunity for attendees to gain profound insights into Gibson Kente’s artistic vision and the social context that inspired his work. Participants will uncover the cultural tapestry weaved by this visionary playwright as they delve into the richness of Kente’s storytelling through thought-provoking discussions and retrospectives.

Scheduled for February 25, 2024, the exclusive lecture is a focal point of the commemorative events.

The Lecture will have industry giants who have previously worked with Kente, Musical tributes, and renowned Theatre scholar, Dr. Andile Xaba will be leading the lecture.

He will provide profound insights into Gibson Kente’s life, work, and enduring influence on the cultural landscape.

Dr Xaba is a lecturer in the Department of Theory of Literature at the University of South Africa (UNISA). His research interests are South African literature and plays, particularly the plays produced by Soweto-based playwrights.

He is currently writing a book on the playwrights Gibson Kente, Matsemela Manaka and Maishe Maponya, looking at theatre making in the 1980s and 1990s.

The lecture promises to be an enlightening exploration of Kente’s impact, shedding light on the socio-cultural context of his work and its significance in shaping the narrative of South African theatre.

This event offers a continuous opportunity for theatre enthusiasts, academics, and the public to engage with the rich history and artistic contributions of Gibson Kente.

The Musical Tribute by a star-studded line-up from South African acclaimed performers accompanied by a 3-piece band will showcase some of the finest show-tunes that were composed by ‘Bra Gib’. 

This will exhibit carefully constructed melodies; spectacular instrumentals and thoroughly constructed lyrics evoking memories of the times and life of ‘Bra Gib’, simply taking us down memory lane.

“As custodians of culture, we are honoured to continue celebrating the legacy of Gibson Kente through the Gibson Kente lecture. It serves as a beacon, guiding us through the rich tapestry of South African theatre, and reminds us that every stage is a platform for storytelling that transcends time. This lecture series is a testament to the enduring power of Kente’s contributions and a commitment to nurturing the vibrant arts landscape in our city and beyond”, says James Ngcobo Artistic Director, Joburg City Theatres.

Known as the ‘father of black theatre’, Kente made township theatre popular and attracted international audiences during the apartheid era, using it as a form of expression during a time when black people were subject to oppression with no human rights.

In the 1960s he started a Theatre company and become the founding father of “Township Theatre” where he produced some of his notable work at the time such as Manana, The Jazz Prophet, Sikalo, and How Long _in the 1970s, which referenced the Soweto Uprising and a musical in the late 1980s called Sekunjalo.

His musicals were a break from township life which became an inspiration for a generation of artists who followed, including Peter Se-puma, Sello Maake Ka Ncube, the late Mbongeni Ngema, and Brenda Fassie just to name a few.

Before his untimely passing in 2004, it is estimated that Kente trained about 400 artists and produced about 23 plays and three television dramas between 1963 and 1992.

His impact on many black South Africans during apartheid and subsequently post-apartheid will always play a crucial role in the country’s painful history.

“To the township eye, How Long is a daily spectacle” Gibson Kente.

Image supplied (Bra ‘Gib’ or ‘father of black theatre’ will be posthumously honoured by hosting the Gibson Kente Lecture by the Soweto Theatre).  

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