TOP poet Albert Nyathi yesterday unveiled a Mzilikazi musical that previously set him on a collision course with theatre producer Cont Mhlanga and South Africa’s Mbongeni Ngema who also claimed to be originators of the concept, although they had not yet produced it due to financial constraints.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
Nyathi told NewsDay Life & Style that he came up with the idea of Mzilikazi: The General Who Dared Shaka Zulu in the mid-1990s before sharing it with Mhlanga and Ngema.
He said he had finally ironed out his differences with the duo.
“I thought about this project in the 1990s. It was more like a musical at a university directed by my lecturer and I was playing the lead role as (South Africa’s founding president Nelson) Mandela. After that, I realised that I wanted to do something about Mzilikazi because he is a well-known person in Southern Africa,” he said.
Nyathi said he would be consulting Mhlanga and Ngema should the need arise.
A few years ago, Mhlanga lashed out at Nyathi over the project which he said was based on his idea.
“It’s not an issue anymore. We have resolved everything. Mhlanga has said I should go ahead. He will support me and I think he would play a role in directing in it. We spoke with Ngema last year. I think I will romp him in,” Nyathi said.
He said the production was international and in the mould of outstanding productions like Iph’ iNtombi, King Kong and Sarafina.
“Mzilikazi aims to place Zimbabwe firmly on the regional and international map as a musical force to be reckoned with,” he said, adding that the production was full of surprises and riveting revelations about the historical Ndebele king.
He said discussions on the cast were currently underway with some of the region’s biggest names in musical theatre.
Although Mhlanga confirmed that they had given Nyathi the greenlight, his version of the musical was “lighter” than theirs.
“The way we wanted to do ours was different from Nyathi. We have agreed that he can go ahead with the production as ours needs a bigger budget. He called me and said he wanted to go ahead and I told him it was okay as the production can be told in many versions,” he said.