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.















Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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