Greatest Xhosa tale of all time on the grand stage


The much celebrated Xhosa story Ityala La Mawele will come to life at the National Arts Festival next week.

The production is one of six that the well-known ArtsCape is bringing to the festival.

ArtsCape creative manager Mandla Mbothwe said they were thrilled to be bringing art lovers their creative and critical reflection of society through multiple voices and diverse theatre production.

“Following our trend of success in our previous years, ArtsCape remains artistically truthful to the work of high art and signature that celebrate South African and Africa history and its storytelling aesthetics,” he said.

Ityala la Mawela is an acclaimed Xhosa novel by Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi.

Adapted by Thando Doni and created by the performing company, the story is set in the time of the historical King Hintsa kaKhawuta and concerns a dispute between the fictional twins Wele and Babini over their deceased father’s estate.

This is resolved via a traditional Xhosa legal trial with Xhosa traditions being practised.

The story features Faniswa Yisa, Bongile Mantsai, Chuma Sopotela and Lamla Ntsaluba.

Mbothwe said it was one of the goals as ArtsCape to celebrate great storytellers and stories such as Ityala la Mawele.

“The story is more than 100 years old and I believe it is one of the greatest Xhosa stories. We need to make noises about such stories and celebrate the author as well,” he said.

He added that they would be celebrating more South African authors in the next coming years.

Some of ArtsCape’s productions include: Peter Voges’ debut as a playwright Henrietta with Love; 2015 winner of the Standard Bank Ovation Award The Rising Son; Die Glas Ennie; OoMasisulu; and the 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for dance, Themba Mbuli’s Sold.

“The productions are all a reflection of our society, then and now. We are also remembering the greats such as Mqhayi. Our shows are in Xhosa, English and Afrikaans,” he said, adding that they had something for everyone.

The play runs from July 4 to 9 at the City Hall. For bookings visit

lOther productions include Animal Farm; House of Truth by award-winning actor Sello Maake KaNcube. Crepuscule; and iLembe. —

lMore reports and pictures on the National Arts Festival on pages 16, 17 and 18

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