Minister Nathi Mthethwa paid tribute to Madiba in his remarks at the opening of Madiba the Opera Production at the State Theatre:

This production celebrates the life of this world icon and son of the South African soil to mark the second anniversary of his passing. After its world premiere in May 2014, Madiba the African Opera returns on stage for its second run from today with a bigger and even better production; and the Department of Arts and Culture is proud to be associated with it.

The show during the start of our Reconciliation Month, and also running in the anniversary week of Madiba’s passing, reminds us to embrace the common ties that bind us as we celebrate the life of a legend, a national hero and a global statesman.Through this production, we begin to take not only a more intimate approach to the life story of this great man through the medium of opera, but also, in so doing, we tell the story of South Africa. For this production covers a wide sweep of history.

We are taken on a journey from before Madiba’s birth, from the Great Place of Mqhekezweni. It covers Madiba’s early childhood in the Thembu kingdom, and his upbringing in the villages of the Eastern Cape, including the loss of his Family Seat in the Tradional Leadership after his father, Chief Gadla Mphakanyiswa refused to appear before the white magistrate in Mthatha. This led to the young Nelson Mandela being raised in the Great Place. It covers his adult journey to Johannesburg in defiance of the king, shows his immersion in a political life and his imprisonment and it finally covers his inauguration as the first president of a non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa.

The production is the testimony of a great life story and shows the truths of the realities of the times, importantly locating Madiba and his personality in this context of struggle, liberation and transformation.

The staging of “Madiba the African Opera” is part of the Unite Campaign: One Man, One Nation, One Celebration in honour of our late former President Nelson Mandela’s unwavering commitment to justice, equality, non-racialism, social cohesion, nation building, selflessness and service to humanity. I am pleased to announce that we have also supported the film, Mandela’s Gun which premiers in 2016 and shows his movement from South Africa to Ethiopia and his return home only to be imprisoned. This is the perod when he came of age as a guerilla fighter.

This African Opera is running in partnership with the South African State Theatre, and sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy initiative.South Africa is viewed as one of the greatest theatres of struggle; a performance space on which many have made their mark and have done extraordinary things.

Let us continue to tell the South Africa story through opera, theatre, dance, song, poetry, oral narratives and other art forms so that we reinforce our collective memory and promote a national identity.

Let us congratulate librettist Unathi Mtirara, who is also the producer and director, the compositions by Sibusiso Njeza and orchestration by Kutlwano Masote. Actors. We look forward to the performances of Owen Metsileng, Thabang Senekal, Caroline Nkwe, Nonhlanhla Yende, Given Nkosi, Xolani Madalane and the cast of 60 who have put their heart and soul into this Opera.

In conclusion, as we enjoy and explore tonight’s opera as an interpretation of the life of our belowed Madiba, let us acknowledge his greatness and his profound humility and give the final word to him.

As he concludes the book, “Conversations with Myself”, he writes the following words:’One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image that I unwittingly protected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint. I never was one, even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.

‘On this final note, I thank you. ”


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