Meet the award-winning cast of 'Poppie Nongena'

Cape Town - Based on the award-winning novel by Elsa Joubert, the gripping new local film Poppie Nongena is set to be released in cinemas nationwide on 31 January 2020.

The novel, The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena, is regarded as one of the best African books of the twentieth century.

The film tells the story of a South African isiXhosa mother, whose life revolves around finding stability for her family during a period of insufferable upheaval in the country when African women were forced, by arrests, fines and forced removal, to leave their homes and resettle in remote areas designated as black homelands.

The film directed by Christiaan Olwagen premiered at the annual Silwerskerm Festival in August where it won 12 awards including Best Feature Film, Best Script, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble Cast.


POPPIE (Clementine Mosimane)

A kind, strong-willed Xhosa mother of three, Poppie was raised speaking Afrikaans. She is her family’s main provider and like many domestic workers at the time, has a "sleep-in" job with a white family. When she is unable to renew her government pass and youth uprisings in the townships become violent, Poppie has to confront her own beliefs and place in the world.

Clementine Mosimane as Poppie.

ANTOINETTE  (Anna-Mart van der Merwe)

Antoinette is Poppie’s employer. A warm and intelligent woman, she is trapped in the constraints of her own privilege. She discovers that no matter how great her compassion is, even she cannot overcome the oppressive system of Apartheid that is gradually revealed to her through her relationship with Poppie.

Anna-Mart van der Merwe as Antoinette.

LENA (Nomsa Nene)

Lena is Poppie’s mother. She cares for Poppie’s children whilst her daughter is at work. She sometimes sides with the children and Stone against Poppie, as she is the one who runs the household in her absence.

Nomsa Nene as Lena.

STONE (Chris Gxalaba)

Poppie’s husband, Stone, is older than her, a hard worker with health problems. He clings to traditional values and longs to return to rural life. Culturally he sees himself as the head of his family but suffers because it is not within his power to help or support his wife in any way, despite his love for her.

Chris Gxalaba as Stone.

BONISILE (Aphiwe Sithole)

This is Poppie’s oldest son. He is sixteen and just coming into his manhood. His affinity for the comrades disappoints Poppie until he gives her his perspective on what it is like to be a young black man longing for freedom and equal rights.

Aphiwe Sithole as Bonisile.

THANDI (Letlotlo Zimkhitha Mohlabeng)

This is Poppie’s only daughter. She leans towards her father’s cultural and traditional beliefs and, with the encouragement of a neighbourhood sangoma, believes she too has a calling to train in this field. This causes tension between her and Poppie.

Letlotlo Zimkhitha Mohlabeng as Thandi.

WEEKEND (Thembalethu Ntuli)

Weekend is Poppie’s youngest son. He is 10 years old and attached to his mom.

Thembalethu Ntuli as Poppie.

MAGRIET (Rolanda Marais)

Magriet is Antoinette’s spoilt younger sister. She is staying with Antoinette whilst her husband is away.  She exemplifies white attitudes of the time, in stark contrast to those of her sister.

Rolanda Marais as Magriet.

Compiled by Leandra Engelbrecht. 

(Photos supplied: Melanie Cleary)