News Brief

Tony Award-Winning South African Theatre Legend Winston Ntshona Has Died

The theatre pioneer and anti-apartheid activist passed away on Thursday at the age of 76.

Winston Ntshona, the veteran South African actor and playwright has died, his family confirmed on Thursday. He was 76.

Ntshona had been ill for eight years, reports Times Live South Africa. Ntshona had a long and successful career in theatre, earning two Tony awards in 1975 along with his collaborator John Kani—who most recently starred in Black Panther—for their plays Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, focusing on South Africa's discriminatory "pass laws," and The Island, about two cellmates at Robben Island who stage a production of Antigone.

Both artists were briefly arrested altering performing the anti-apartheid plays in South Africa the following year.

He also appeared in other notable films including The Wild Geese, The Dogs of War, Marigolds in August, Tarzan and the Lost City, and he had a standout role in the 1989 film A Dry White Season, in which he played a father whose son is beaten by white police officers during an apartheid protest.

He earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at the South African Film and Television Awards in 2011.

"When we started our involvement in local theatre, it was just entertainment. South Africa was a strange place," said Ntshona in a 2001 interview with The Globe and Mail. "Everyone was totally oblivious to the need to express the plight of the black people. Everybody wanted to forget there was pain—they just wanted to be entertained. This worried us, and when the time was ripe, one picked up the responsibility to do something about one's life."

One fan on Twitter, put together a brief compilation of some of Ntshona's work.

Since the news of his passing friends, family and supporters have been sharing heartfelt messages about the celebrated thespian's influence and contribution to the arts.















Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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