Marikana – The Musical might have taken a four-year hiatus, but its return to the South African State Theatre on opening night last week was stellar.
The musical returned to the theatre to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the brutal Marikana massacre. On the fateful day of 16 August 2012, at least 34 miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in the North West were shot and killed, and several others injured on the seventh day of an unprotected strike about their living conditions and demands for a wage increase to R12 500.
While many of the miners who were killed went nameless, Mgacineni 'Mambush' Noki made several headlines as he led the strike, and after he was shot a reported 14 times.
Albeit not much of a theatergoer, I was impressed by veteran actor Meshack Mavuso-Magabane's portrayal of Mambush, including the way he fell to the ground, with his back to the police, after being shot several times in the musical.
The Estate actor Aubrey Poo also executed his role well, and I was particularly impressed by his voice when he broke out into song. Poo led the police in the days up to the fateful day but was sidelined by the provincial police commissioner (played by Gomora actor Siyasanga Papu) to end the strike action as it had dragged out for too long.
According to the musical, 284 rounds of live ammunition were fired during the massacre.
Despite continuing to tell the heart-wrenching story of how the miners were killed, along with two security guards and two other policemen, Marikana – The Musical writer and director Aubrey Sekhabi found a way to add light-hearted moments which brought laughter to the theatre.
The musical is a beautiful ode to remember what happened but also reopened the wounds of the families of the slain mineworkers about who was liable for the deadly events.
A commission - the Marikana commission of inquiry – was set up to answer this crucial question about a report submitted for former president Jacob Zuma in March 2015, which absolved multiple political figures who were accused of having a hand in the events that led to the massacre, including then deputy president and non-executive director at Lonmin, Cyril Ramaphosa.