By popular demand, Miriam Makeba: MAMA AFRICA THE MUSICAL returns to its home base –Cape Town — this week courtesy of the United Kingdom office of the Lagos-based ZMirage Multimedia Company led by the ace theatre technician and producer, Teju Wasee Kareem.
The production, which premiered in Cape Town mid last year, is coming up at the THE ARTSCAPE THEATRE CENTRE after its intensive tour of Missouri and New York in October last year.
The story of the life and career of the Grammy award winning singer and civil rights activist, is delightfully told in the musical, written/directed by Niyi Coker Jnr, winner of Washington DC Kennedy Centre Award for directing. Coker is the E. Desmond Lee Distinguished Professor of African/African-American Studies, Theatre & Cinema Arts at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis. (please see full profile below)
The cross-continental cultural project, Mama Africa The Musical, started three years ago as a collaboration between the University of Missouri, St. Louis USA, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa with the collaboration of the ZM Makeba Trust.
Professor Coker did an extensive research into the life and career of Miriam Makeba; especially her role in the struggle against apartheid. Makeba’s life story illustrates the resilience of the African spirit, master artistry and positive, forward looking spirit.
The maiden show of the 40-man cast with an international crew was at The Great Hall, University of Western Cape, South Africa from (May 25-29, 2016). It later proceeded on tour of the USA at The Anhuesser Busch Theatre in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Centre, University of Missouri Campus, St. Louis (September 15—18,, 2016); and Skirball Performing Art Center, New York City on October 3, 2016.
After these successful runs in the academic circuits in both South Africa and the USA, Mama Africa has been repackaged for wider public showing starting with its scheduled run at the influential theatrical performance space, ArtsCape in Cape Town.
It is also billed to tour the United Kingdom in March, and Nigeria in May 2017.
Mama Africa parades top performers including JENNIFER PAU-KAKAZA, whose credits include Lady Macbeth in (Macbeth), Ciesca, (Gianna Schichi); and 1st Chercatrice (Suor Angelica). She has also done voice over work, background vocals and in acted films, series, and musical shows.
SIMANGELE MASHAZI is a talented singer/songwriter, who has performed on various stages at festivals such as KKNK, Woordfees, the Artscape Youth Jazz Festival and Darling’s Vooorkamer Festival. Most recently she shared the stage with the Ramon Alexander Quartet at the 2016 Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
PHELO NODLAYIYA, who performed roles including Osmin from Die Entfurhung aus dem Serail, Coppelius from Tales of Hoffman, Don Alfonso from Cosi fan Tutte to mention but a few.
ABOUT MIRIAM MAKEBA
Born in 1932 in Prospect Township, Johannesburg, South Africa, Zenzile Miriam Makeba was a world-renowned singer and civil rights activist. In the 1960s she was the first artist to popularize African music around the world. Ms. Makeba became active in and outspoken against the Apartheid system. These activities led to the revocation of her South African citizenship. Although banned from South Africa until the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990, Ms. Makeba was a towering figure in the global anti-Apartheid struggle, leveraging on her highly successful music career. She lived and worked in the US, Europe and Africa during these years, enjoying both celebrity status as an entertainer and often encountering difficulties because of her outspoken political positions.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
‘Niyi Coker, Jr. is the E. Desmond Lee Distinguished Professor of African/African-American Studies, Theatre & Cinema Arts at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis. He has served as Artistic Director of several theatre companies including: K3 in Malmo Sweden, and Black Box Theatre in Bermuda. He is the founding Artistic Director of the African Arts Ensemble in New York City. He is recipient of the Washington D.C. Kennedy Center Merit Award for Directing. His plays include: Ouray, on the Southern Ute Indians of Colorado, staged with Ute Indian Native American actors Colorado in 1992. Endangered Species commissioned by the British Council toured England in 1995. Preemptive staged at the Shaw Theatre at London in 2010. He has directed several Off-Broadway plays in New York city, most recently, Booth! a musical on the life of Edwin Booth, which he wrote and directed.
His documentary film writing and directing credits include, “Black Studies USA”, which won best short documentary at the Berlin Black Film Festival in Germany in 2005 & Finalist at the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2007 , and Silver Remi Award Winner at the Houston International Film Festival in 2007. His latest feature, “Pennies for the Boatman” nominated in 4 categories was winner of Best Screenplay 2012 at the Madrid International Film Festival.
His most recent documentary film “Ota Benga – Human at the Zoo” premiered at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in November 2015. It won best Director for a Documentary Film at the 2015 London International Film Festival. It also won best Director of a Foreign Documentary Film at the 2015 Nice International Film Festival.
ABOUT THE PRODUCING COMPANY
Founded in 1996, Zmirage UK specializes in offering high net-worth technical and consultancy services to theatrical productions with operations spreading across Africa, Europe and America. Zmirage UK worked with Peoples World Band of Nottin’ Hill Carnival to present the winning Mobile Carnival Float; and also participated in creating the entertainment village of some of the participating African countries during the Olympic 2012. It has produced collaborated or consulted on significant theatrical projects such as the yearly Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, WSICE (now in its seventh year); SARO The Musical; WAKAA The Musical and others. Its signature is also on major musical and showbiz events such as MALAIKA Beauty Pageant; KORA Award; Africa Music Award, AFRIMA and other corporate projects across the continent of Africa. The CEO of Zmirage, Teju Wasee Kareem, attended masterclasses on light sound and projection of the New York University at which Fela! On Broadway; was reference production idea.
(For details about booking Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa the Musical on their next tour, or to request a Proposed Technical Rider, costs, or help underwrite a future tour, send mail to [email protected]; or reach Telephone on: +234-802-3060-555)