Masote: true drama, real music

2012-05-12 00:00

THE inspiring true story of Mike “Ntate” Masote, the founder of the Soweto Youth Orchestra, which in turn gave birth to the internationally-acclaimed Soweto String Quartet, is celebrated in the new series, Monna Wa Minno, starting on SABC2 at 9 pm tomorrow (Sunday).

Running until June 3, the series, which is directed by Norman Maake and written by playwright Zakes Mofokeng, reveals how Masote had to overcome both the scepticism of his own community and the prejudices of Apartheid to prove that music transcends politics and race.

The series stars Vuyo Dabula (Isidingo, Wild at Heart) as Masote, international Emmy Award nominee Lerato Mvelase (Home Affairs, Life, Above All) as his wife Sheila, Rampai Mohadi (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as his friend Thula, and Daniel Janks (Generation Kill) as South African artist Cecil Skotnes. Masote, who worked closely with the filmmakers, has a cameo as Lucas Scott.

Producer Bridget Pickering (Hotel Rwanda, uGugu noAndile) said: “Although it’s a historical film about an ordinary guy who changed his world, it’s also very personal. His wife, Sheila, was very much the inspiration who pushed him and helped make it happen, so Monna Wa Minno is really a love story against a backdrop of music and drama.”

The epic story spans the forced removals in Sophiatown; the Soweto Uprising and Masote’s wife’s subsequent solitary confinement; his exile in Bophuthatswana; his return to form the Soweto Youth Orchestra and their show-stealing performance in Scotland for Queen Elizabeth II; and his own triumphant translation of the Messiah into 10 African languages and its performance at The Johannesburg City Hall — the venue that once threw him out into the streets when he dared to sneak in to listen to classical music.

— Arts Editor.


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