Sarafina musical returns to SA State Theatre

‘Sarafina’, the South African musical depicting students involved in the 1976 Soweto Riots in opposition to the Apartheid, returns to South African State Theatre (SAST) on 10 March and close on 20 May. 

Sarafina. Photo: Whats on in Joburg
Sarafina. Photo: Whats on in Joburg

Previews of the musical will run from 28 February - 9 March.

Conceived and directed by Mbongeni Ngema, ‘Sarafina’, which has been staged on Broadway, was written by Ngema and additional songs were done by jazz icon Hugh Masekela.

Funded by the National Department of Arts and Culture, the hit musical is a musical experience with songs performed in the tradition of Mbaqanga, fused with jazz, RnB and gospel. The musical deals with the radicalisation of a young school girl who becomes involved in the riots and is tortured by the South African Police. The primary setting is the Morris Isaacson High School where students revolt against the use of Afrikaans as medium of instruction.

In an official statement from the organisers, a appeal is made to the South African education department: “…with challenges facing our educational system, arts and culture must step up and help us look back and remember that this democracy was achieved through blood and tears and that education is a right and not a privilege.”

‘Sarafina’ was created in June 1986 and premiered at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg in June 1987, with Leleti Khumalo in the title role as the school girl activist. In its second run at the State Theatre in 2004, when South Africa celebrated ten years of democracy, the production attracted more than 25 000 people with 27 performances.

In January 1988, the musical ran on Broadway during black history month, culminating in a two-year run on Broadway in Manhattan, New York City, and a five-year tour of the US. At the same time, a second cast premiered the musical at the Market Theatre in 1988 and went on a world tour for four years, stopping over in the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and parts of West Africa.

A Hollywood feature film starring Whoopie Goldberg and Leleti Khumalo. Dr Mbongeni Ngema, Dr John Kani and Dr Mirriam Makeba, was later made. The soundtrack was produced by Dr Mbongeni Ngema and Quincy Jones. It captured the imagination of the world and made Sarafina a symbol of African triumph and hope.

For more information about this production, get in touch with Thakgatso Setseta via email: or call +2712 392 4045 and +2778 823 3596. Tickets can be purchased via Computicket.



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