While many South Africans might have a been a little, well, sleepy, after watching President Jacob Zuma’s [long] January 8 speech, honouring the ANC’s centenary, the same cannot be said for the spectacular, Tshihumbudzo: Our Story, Our Future, that followed and was broadcast on the SABC.
What a wake up call that was! The two-hour visual spectacle featured dance, song, music, poetry, theatre and audio-visual footage reflecting the rich history of the African National Congress, and was watched by over four million SABC viewers.
The often-cynical social networks went ballistic with praise, with many a Twitter timeline reflecting the ‘tweeples’ interest in knowing just who was responsible for the show. The agencies behind the production were the VWV Group and Blue Moon. VWV produced the event, while Blue Moon was responsible for the creative deliverables.
Now, due to popular demand, the spectacular show will be rebroadcast tonight [Tuesday, January 17] at 9pm on SABC 1.
“VWV is proud to have been appointed by the ANC as the lead agency to work on such a momentous task. It was a challenging project and the overwhelmingly positive response by the public has shown us that we got it right,” said VWV’s project director, Jameson Hlongwane.
“Tshihumbudzo: Our Story, Our Future’ depicts the long struggle of our people for freedom, led by the ANC through drama, dance, music and archival material. Since the initial broadcast on SABC 1 on 8 January, we have been inundated with requests for Tshihumbudzo by educational institutions and parents who want to share the story with their children.
“We are pleased by the overwhelmingly positive response, and hope that all in our country take the opportunity to watch the re-broadcast on Tuesday, 17 January, 2012 on SABC 1 at 21h00,” says Baleka Mbete, chairperson of the African National Congress.
Blue Moon’s executive creative director, DJ Grant, had proposed the concept of “a peoples’ history of the ANC” told through a documentary–style storyline that blended theatre, choreography, musical performance and documentary material. The overarching story was that of the historical trajectory of the ANC, but the ‘story within a story’ was that of a woman who had lived through the times and was herself a participant in the struggle. It was also the story of her grandson’s journey to a realisation that the story of the struggle is his story too. Each era was celebrated in song and dance relevant to the cultural milieu of the time and of the period of struggle.
The talented cast included 14 lead artists, 12 ensemble cast members, nine band members, five backing vocalists and a troupe of 20 dancers. The star-studded production was directed by the acclaimed James Ngcobo with Victor Masondo as the musical director. Gregory Maqoma choreographed the mammoth cast that included the Vuyani Dance Theatre, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Judith Sephuma, Dorothy Masuka, Zahara, Simphiwe Dana, Vusi Mahlasela, Ray Phiri, Karen Zoid, AKA and many more South African greats.
VWV says it employed largely the same experienced production team that produced the World Cup opening and closing ceremonies to execute this event seamlessly. Over 600 personnel were on site to ensure that it all went off without a drama. The logistics team was tasked with sourcing accommodation for 418 people in an already overflowing Bloemfontein, to feeding, transporting, managing and keeping the large cast happy. A substantial cast management team, and on the ground production team of 100, built an ‘artists village’ at the stadium to keep all crew members fed and watered.
The concept was accommodated through the construction of a 600m2, six-tiered stage, designed by James MacNamara Designs, and took the expertise of a 150-crew technical team headed by VWV. The team worked tirelessly to rig the massive set and run the technical requirements for 12 screens and 200 moving lights, on and around the set and stadium; as well as the installation and programming of an enormous stadium audio system.
Michelle Caldeira, managing director of Blue Moon, said, “The ANC Centenary theme of “Unity in Diversity” was exemplified in the inspiring humility and generous spirit of collaboration amongst all involved”.