Various Artists - Mkhumbane



press the PDF button to download the full LP insert (1.1 MB)

press the PDF button to download the complete souvenir programme (4.4 MB)

From the simple suggestion that Alan Paton write the connecting dialogue for an evening of songs by African choirs to depict a day in the life of the people of Cato Manor, an African location on the outskirts of Durban, arose "Mkhumbane", a new venture in South African theatre. The evening of choral work never materialised. Instead a fully-fledged folk musical was created, with a story embodying all the warmth and wholesome simplicity that Mr. Paton evoked in “Cry the Beloved Country". Todd Matshikiza, who wrote the music for "King Kong", composed a score ranging from a slick, westernized cabaret number, through "blues", "laments", and concerted numbers, to a highly exciting witch-doctor's "smelling-out" dance — the latter now a relic of the past history of the Zulu people. It was decided to use a cast recruited from actual inhabitants of "Mkhumbane" (the African name for Cato Manor) and to dispense with a "pit" orchestra, employing instead a choir of more than a hundred voices.

"Mkhumbane", the village in the gulley, is introduced to us by a narrator who tells us that the story depicts a day in the lives of the people of Mkhumbane— a day of joy and sorrow, of good and evil, of beauty and ugliness. The curtains part to reveal the rugged slopes and simple homes of Mkhumbane. Against this background, we learn, during the First Act, of the predicament of the Buthelezi family. Father Buthelezi has been attacked by a gang of "tsotsis" and has been robbed of the money which he and his wife had saved for their son John's education. Sadly, Father and Mother Buthelezi watch their son leave home to go and look for work in the City.

We now hear the "Morning Song", sung by the people of Mkhumbane as they walk towards the buses that will take them to their places of work in the City.

While Buthelezi sits dejectedly in his yard, he is visited by Lindiwe, schoolgirl sweetheart of his son John. As she leaves him and runs up the hillside, she is joined by a group of her school-friends. Buthelezi is next visited by a group of Old Men, who have come to discuss the gravity of the "tsotsi" situation in Mkhumbane. In a vivid dance sequence we are shown the brutal methods adopted by the "tsotsis" in their nightly assaults on the more law-abiding inhabitants. Rachel Zungu then comes down the hillside into Buthelezi's yard. She is a flamboyant, colourful shebeen queen (an early flame of Buthelezi's, in fact), but while she herself does not always keep to the law, she denounces the cowardly attacks of the "tsotsis" and chastises the Old Men for not making positive efforts to rid Mkhumbane of these nightly terrors. She stirs them to action, and the first act closes as the Old Men work themselves up into a determined war dance, "Wathini Amadoda".

Act Two opens with the lazy "Calida Blues", sung while the "tsotsis" congregate outside the local Ship Shape Shop to await the arrival of the shopgirls. The action of the play now shifts to various Municipal and Government offices, where we see John Buthelezi in the early stages of his desperate endeavours to get the necessary permit to work.

As lunch-time approaches, we leave John in near-despair, and return to the Ship Shape Shop to see the shop girls emerging for lunch. Again they encounter the "tsotsis", and together they sing and dance while the "tsotsis" ask the girls "Who will you marry if you don't marry us?"

While John is frantically visiting one office after another, his sweetheart Lindiwe is making plans to collect sufficient money for John to continue his education. She visits Rachel Zungu, shows her a picture of John, and asks her to hold a charity concert to help the Buthelezi family. Rachel is deeply touched by the resemblance between the boy John and a boy she once loved in her youth. She agrees to hold the concert that very night, and when Lindiwe leaves, she sits alone in her modest home singing "Rachel's Lament", sadly remembering the boy she had loved and lost when he and six hundred others went down on the ship "Mendi", during the first World War.

When the curtain opens on the Third Act, Rachel's concert is in full swing, with a stage band playing "Stop Light". Rachel is mingling amongst her guests, who are entering fully into the gaiety of the occasion, and readily throwing coins into the collection basket. Several sparkling concert items follow. We hear Doris Ngwenya singing the catchy number "Doris Akathandi", followed by the Baron Kids, a group of guitarists and penny whistlers, playing "Telefon". Finally, a vocal group, "The Dimes" entertain the gathering with "Banutustan".

During the concert, the visitors are reduced to a state of incredulous horror, when Father Buthelezi enters carrying his son John, who has been attacked by the "tsotsis" on his return from the City. But we soon hear that his injuries are superficial, and the merriment continues once more. As he concert nears its end, Rachel announces to her guests that she has arranged a traditional witch-doctor's "smelling-out" dance, partly as a game, but partly as a means of detecting the identity of the notorious "Elephant", the evil mind behind the "tstosi" gangs. We now see and hear the "Smelling out Dance" done in traditional "sangema" costume. It culminates in the exposure of Mr. Charlemagne, rich owner of the Ship Shape Shop, as the "Elephant". He flies in terror, followed by the Old Men, who are determined to see justice done.

The gaiety of the concert has by now been partially destroyed, but the scene becomes utterly tragic when it is found that Alfred, a member of the "tsotsi" gang who has decided to abandon a life of crime, and who has helped to bring about the downfall of the "Elephant" has been stabbed to death by one of his fellows. The final words of the play are spoken by Alfred's blind mother, who laments the loss of her son, but "sees" the coming of a time of hope when "evil men like this Elephant will not be able to corrupt our children".

The play closes as the guests drift quietly back into the streets of Mkhumbane to the strains of the "Finale".


Book and Lyric by ALAN PATON
Produced by The South African Institute of Race Relations
Directed by Malcolm Woolfson
Musical Direction by Todd Matshikiza
Choreography by Dorothea McNair
Decor by Carol Marais



We can only love what we know. And God knows what need there is of love, and therefore of knowledge, in our beloved, beautiful, broken, heartless, heartsore South Africa — ashamed of its Cato Manors, evading the questions they pose and frightened of the ultimate answers.

The truth must be faced, not an abstract, academic truth, but truth embodied in the flesh and blood, the loves and hates, the cruelty and compassion of men and women. Whoever helps us to face that truth is a benefactor.

"Mkhumbane" is a flash of truth and we are all grateful for it. On behalf of the Natal Committee of the South African Institute of Race Relations, I express sincere thanks to all who have made the staging of it possible:

To Alan Paton and Todd Matshikiza who have blended their talents, their words, their melodies and harmonies in the creation of the play;

To Malcolm Woolfson, the brilliant young director who has brought the work to life;

To Dorothea McNair who has provided the striking choreography and to Carol Marais, the remarkable artist whose decor so aptly depicts the setting of the story — Mkhumbane — Cato Manor itself;

To the rest of the team of some 250 people who have worked together to make "Mkhumbane" a memorable occasion: the production team, the stage hands and those who have been responsible for the business management and for the organisation of this Premiere;

Last but not least, to all members of the wonderful cast who have since the beginning of this year, so willingly sacrificed most of their spare time to take part in this production.

The Institute will benefit materially from their efforts and for this we are grateful. But more than that we are grateful for an event that proclaims South Africa's ability to rise above its divisions and distil a moment of artistic truth from the wealth of what is now considered South Africa's insoluble problem but what one day we hope will be its greatest asset: the rich variety of its human resources.


ALAN PATON, who wrote the book and the lyrics of "Mkhumbane" leapt to international fame with the publication of his first novel, the brilliant "Cry the Beloved Country". "Cry" has been translated into 12 languages and has been filmed. The American poet and playwright Maxwell Anderson dramatised this novel which was presented on Broadway as "Lost in the Stars", with music by Kurt Weill. Paton's second novel "Too Late the Phalarope" also joined the best-seller lists, and it too, has been dramatised and the play produced on Broadway. Recently Alan Paton's play "The Last Journey" was produced in Lusaka to mark the opening of the new Inter-racial theatre there. "Mkhumbane" is Mr. Paton's first musical play.

An educationalist by profession, Alan Paton was Principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory before his retirement. He is at present engaged on the completion of his biography of the late J. H. Hofmeyr.

Composer TODD MATSHIKIZA is a musician of exceptional gifts. Born in Queenstown, Matshikiza had his early education at St. Peter's, Rosettenville. He matriculated at Adams College and then studied at the Lovedale Teacher's Training College, where he later taught. Here he was able to exploit his natural gifts and he started a musical society and a dramatic group.

Matshikiza has composed many choral works and songs which are heard regularly over the radio. In 1956 the Johannesburg Festival Committee commissioned him to write a choral work for 200 voices and orchestra. This work was acclaimed by the critics.

The Johannesburg choir which entertained the Queen mother during her Rhodesian visit sang Todd's beautiful farewell melody "Hamba Kahle" and at her request she was presented with a special recording of this song.

Matshikiza made his impact on the theatrical world with his music for the successful Jazz Opera "King Kong". In the music of "Mkhumbane" we have Todd Matshikiza's great talent in somewhat different vein.


MARIA — Fascina Nkoma
BUTHELEZI (The Bull of Mkhumbane) — Alexander Mtabela
ALFRED SITHOLE — Cyril Ngwenya
JANE BUTHELEZI — Regina Makhaye
LINDIWE — Maureen Mthembu
BHENGU — Michael Khuzwayo
OLD MEN — Oliver Khuzwayo, Cecil Matiwane, Slax Mhlongo, Linda Mhlungu, Arthur Msimang, Themba Ndunge, Michael Ngidi.
RACHEL — Linda Molotto
TSOTSIS — Eric Dludla (leader of the gang), Sandy lack, William Lushaba, Elias Mavuso, Meshack Mbhebe, Daniel Mthembu, Elijah Mzimela, Philip Ndebele, Simon Ndebele, Samuel Ndlovu, Tony Ndlovu, Alfred Nokwe, Vuka Tshabalala.
SHOPGIRLS — Gretta Dladla (leader), Dolly Cele, Peggy Mabandla, Beauty Malinga, Dorcas Nzamane, Sheila Pitso, Miriam Sibisi, Peggy Zuma.
WATCHMAN — Amos Mkhonza
JACKAL — Joey Saint
CHARLEMAGNE — Ambrose Ngcobo
MKHUMBANE OFFICIAL — Selbourne Maponya
REVEREND HLUBI — Jeremiah Nhlangulela
BLIND WOMAN — Lilly Nyuswa
BLIND WOMAN'S COMPANION — Claribel Hlatswayo
DOCTOR — Theophilus Bophela

INHABITANTS OF MKHUMBANE — Agrippa Cebekhulu, Themba Cele, loyce Dladla, Generosa Dlamini, Herbert Dlamini, Thomas Dlamini, Beauty Dube, Fred Dube, Sihauli Dube, Virginia Fihlela, Themba Gumbi, Gertrude Hlatswayo, Psychology Hlatswayo, Philemon Kanyile, Florence Khumalo, Monica Khumalo, Robert Khumalo, Timneth Khumalo, Christopher Langa, Ben Magubane, Agnes Makapela, Johnstone Makatini, Aletta Makheta, Kaya Matanga, Lindiwe Mbonambi, Peggy Mhlongo, Emmanuel Mkhize, Inez Mkhize, Meshack Mlaba, Michael Mlambo, Priscilla Mnyanda, James Mynandu. Naphtali Moloi, Claddie Mpanza, Victoria Msimang, Johannes Mthembu. Reynolds Mthembu, Irie M'Timkulu, Michael Mvelase, Abraham Mzuza, Constance Ndaba, Ceslina Ndlovu, Mabel Nduli, Seleke Ngakane, Robert Ngwame, Doris Ngwenya, Jerrine Nhlapo, Mark Nhlapo, Levi Nkabinde, Dolly Ntombela, Doris Ntuli, Rosamund Nyuswa, Isaac Pitso, Moses Sefatsa, Joshua Sibisi, Victor Sima, Constance Sithole, Ida Sithole, Eugene Umlaw, Alexander Yeni, Harrison Zondi.

CHILDREN OF MKHUMBANE — Philip Bhengu, Emmanuel Dlamini, Allison Hlope, Gloria Khoza. Doreen Khumalo, Emmanuel Kubeka, Esrom Kubeka, Maureen Makhanya, Fransisca Malinga, Erick Mfanazana, Ivy Mkhabisa, Enock Mkhungo, Paul Motholo, Michael Mthembu., Truth Mthethwa, Faith Ngcobo, Leonard Ngubane, Mandla Ntombela, Meshack Phewa.

CHOIR — Entire Cast


The entire proceeds of the Durban performances of "Mkhumbane" will benefit the the South African Institute of Race Relations.
The Institute is an organisation which was founded in 1929 to work for peace, goodwill and practical co-operation between all the races of South Africa.

It is entirely non-party-political and is not tied to any doctrine or 'ism', nor has it ever been allied to or received financial help from any political party or Government.
It seeks to further the social, economic and political development of all communities in South Africa.
It believes that problems can be solved by hard thinking, hard work and goodwill, on the basis of dispassionate and objective scientific enquiry.
It at all times endeavours to combine theory with practice, and its programme includes: Fact-finding, First-hand contacts, Education, Social Welfare.
It has 4,000 members of all races, including leading municipalities, teachers' societies, chambers of commerce, churches and welfare associations.
It is regarded both in South Africa and overseas as an authoritative body on racial matters.
It is financed from purely voluntary sources.

YOUR support will give moral backing to the Institute; YOUR subscription will help to finance the work undertaken; YOUR interest will spread the knowledge which the Institute desires should be in the possession of every person in the country.




recorded 1960
issued 1960
Gallotone (red)
made in South Africa
produced by The South African Institute of Race Relations
GALP 1103
matrix ABC 18629
matrix ABC 18630
33 rpm
first issue
cover images by Ranjith Kally
cover design by Beverly Gower
cover printed by Electric
source: flatinternational Archive



1.1Opening Chorus

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

1.2Morning Song

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

1.3Tsotsi Attack

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

1.4Wathini Amadoda

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

1.5Calida Blues

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

1.6Who Will You Marry

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

Rachel's Lament

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)


(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

Doris Akathandi

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)


(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)


(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

Smelling Out

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)

2.13Closing Chorus

(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)


(Alan Paton, Todd Matshikiza)



ALAN PATON - play, lyric
TODD MATSHIKIZA - music, musical direction
DOROTHEA MCNAIR - choreography
JOAN LITTLE - choral verse direction
CAROL MARAIS - stage design
JEREMIAH NHLANGULELA - spoken introduction
MIRIAM SIBISI - spoken introduction
RAY HAND - clarinet
KAYA MATANGA - leader, sax
THOMAS DLAMINI - leader, guitar
ROBERT KHUMALO - pennywhistle
JOHANNES MTHEMBU - pennywhistle
ROBERT NGWAME - pennywhistle
VICTOR SIMA - guitar
HARRISON ZONDI - choirmaster



Alan Paton’s play Mkhumbane with music by Todd Matshikiza opened in Durban on March 29th, 1960. It was a turbulent period in South African history and the play’s opening was framed by major events in what was a time of great political change.

On March 21st, one week before the opening 69 protesters demonstrating against the carrying of pass-books were gunned down by police in Sharpeville. On March 28th, Albert Luthuli burnt his passbook in protest at the shootings and declared a day of mourning. On March 30th, the day after the play opened, the Nationalist Government declared a State of Emergency, arresting more than 18 000 people, detaining Luthuli and confining him to his home in Stanger, KwaZulu Natal. On April 1st the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 134 condemning the Sharpeville massacre and by April 5th both the ANC and the PAC had been banned. On April 9th David Pratt, a white farmer, attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Verwoerd by shooting him twice in the face. The playwright, Alan Paton traveled to New York later that year to receive the 1960 Freedom Award from Freedom House, but on December 5th, upon his arrival at Johannesburg airport, his passport was withdrawn by the South African authorities. It was a status that would remain in effect for the next 10 years.

Mkhumbane refers to a settlement just 7 km from central Durban. Officially named Cato Manor, it was called Mkhumbane by its black residents after the Mkhumbane River, which ran through the area.
With an expanding post-World War II economy, Durban had seen a massive influx of rural black workers coming into the city seeking jobs and by 1952 Mkhumbane, with its close proximity to the city centre, had grown into a vast informal settlement of 90,000 people. Though vibrant, living conditions were poor and crowded and the settlement increasingly became the site of significant conflict between residents and governing authorities.

In 1909 the Durban City Council established a revenue system of selling alcohol to the black population exclusively through a series of Beerhalls. The acquiring of alcohol from sources other than these official Beerhalls was declared illegal for black South Africans and the residents of Mkhumbane resented such control over what had been regarded as a tradition. Illegal brewing developed as a result, and in response the South African authorities regularly raided what were considered to be illicit businesses and made numerous arrests. Protests at such police action resulted and often led to violent clashes.

By the mid 1950s Mkhumbane had also become a political hotbed with Albert Luthuli gaining support for the ANC by linking the settlement’s problems to the greater struggle against apartheid. In response to the increasing political action in the area and anxieties over the large numbers of non-white residents living in close proximity to the city, a nervous Durban City Council issued a proclamation in June 1958. Inhabitants from Cato Manor were to be moved to the more distant regions of Umlazi, Chatsworth and the newly developed township of Kwa Mashu. In 1959 the City Council declared Cato Manor a white zone under the Group Areas Act and in June began the process of forcibly moving Mkhumbane residents to Kwa Mashu.

At this time a response to the increased liquor raids in Mkhumbane put into play a series of actions that soon spiraled into significant violence. It began on July 17, 1959 when a group of women gathered at the Cato Manor beerhall, threatening the men drinking there with sticks. This same group of women then proceeded to attack the central beerhall in Durban and a boycott of the beerhalls began. On July 18th, the following day, 3000 women gathered around the Mkhumbane Beerhall, and while clashing with police, set it on fire. It is significant to point out that these grievances were not over moral issues around the use of liquor, but rather the control of its production and sale. By some accounts it is these grassroots activities by women that contributed to the strengthening of the ANC’s Women’s League at the time. After more raids on January 23rd (some have it in early February) of 1960, an angry mob killed nine policemen at the Cato Manor Police Station.

It is not insignificant that this event, which occurred just six weeks before the infamous Sharpeville shootings, was fresh in the minds of the inexperienced Sharpeville policemen who opened fire on protestors, killing 69 people.

Within this politically charged context the play Mkhumbane opened in Durban with a cast made up almost entirely of residents from the Cato Manor area. Produced by The South African Institute of Race Relations the production featured a multi-racial collaboration with Paton as playwright and librettist, Matshikiza as music director and writer and Malcolm Woolfson as director.

Mkhumbane was Paton’s first attempt at a musical, while Matshikiza had already proven his talents with the hugely successful King Kong, performed for the first time the previous year. While Paton’s lyrics in English give some of the songs an awkward formality, they are not without deep political significance verging at times on the satirical. The track Bantustan features an ironic conversation between men wooing women that sets up a dichotomy between the negatives of city life and the benefits of life in the newly formed “Bantustans”:

“For city slickers I don’t care,
I want a man who will and can
I want a man from Bantustan…

A nice little house Kwa Mashu way,
Perhaps a nice little car one day.”

This strategy is very reminiscent of that in the song Meadowlands popularized by Nancy Jacobs and her Sisters five years before. Strike Vilikazi’s lyrics in that song appear to praise the benefits of moving to the new township of Meadowlands, but in reality were understood by listeners as a critique of the government’s forced removals of residents from Sophiatown.

The souvenir programme that accompanied the play features a text by Dennis Hurly, the Archbishop of Durban and chairman of the Natal Region of the South African Institute of Race Relations. In his opening lines he states: “We can only love what we know. And God knows what need there is for love, and therefore of knowledge, in our beloved, beautiful, broken, heartless, heartsore South Africa—ashamed of its Cato Manors, evading the questions they pose and frightened of the ultimate answers.”

All proceeds from the Durban performance went to benefit The South African Institute of Race Relations. In the programme the Institute makes a call for audience viewers to “JOIN THE INSTITUTE TODAY”.

The cover designed by Beverly Gower and photographed by Ranjith Kally features a mysterious but telling image of a faceless line of people carrying books, briefcases, etc. They appear to be standing in front of a bus. And yet it might also be a police armoured vehicle.

Interestingly, Alfred Nokwe, legendary actor, director and father of singer Tu Nokwe, makes a cameo appearance, his first, in Mkumbane as one of the tsotsi’s. He would much later stage his own production of the play.

Unlike the success of King Kong, which made its way to London, Mkhumbane closed only after a few months in Durban. Of the play, David Coplan in In Township Tonight says: Though production difficulties, police harassment and mixed reviews combined to allow Mkhumbane only a short run, its particular uses of theme and musical dramatics made it an important forerunner of the popular working-class township theatre of the 1970s.”


1950s - Cato Manor balloons to 6000 shacks accommodating 50 000 people moving into Durban for work.
1950s mid - The area becomes a political hotbed with Albert Luthuli gaining support for the ANC by linking Cato Manor's problems to the greater struggle against apartheid.
1958 June - Proclamation to shift inhabitants from Cato Manor to Kwa Mashu, Umlazi and Chatsworth.
1958 - 1st section of Kwa Mashu township completed
1959 - Cato Manor declared a white zone under group areas act by Durban City Council.
1959 June - Forced removals of residents from Mkhumbane to Kwa Mashu begins.
1959 June 17 - Increased liquor raids in Mkhumbane. Women protest and boycott beerhalls. ANC women's league becomes more active.
1960 Feb - Beer Hall Riots: Angry residents attack and kill 9 policemen in Mkhumbane
1960 March 21 - Sharpeville massacre
1960 March 28 - Albert Luthuli burns his passbook in Pretoria and declares a day of mourning.
1960 March 29 - Mkhumbane, Alan Paton's play with music by Todd Matshikiza, opens in Durban
1960 March 30 - State of Emergency declared in RSA. Luthuli is detained and confined to his home in Stanger.
1960 Dec 5 - Alan Paton's passport is confiscated after returning from New York where he received the Freedom Award.
1961 Dec - Luthuli receives the Nobel Peace Award for 1960.
1964 August 31 - Last shack destroyed in Cato Manor.