7 August 2017

South Africa: Cape Flats Artists Create Modern Twist to the Life Story of Krotoa

Photo: Krotoa
Krotoa played by Crystal-Donna Roberts.

A group of young artists have brought a modern spin to the life story of Krotoa. The musical production titled Krotoa van Vandag tells the story of a young girl from the Cape Flats' in search of her true identity.

This also follows the release of the internationally acclaimed film Krotoa which premiered in Cape Town last week.

Krotoa [or Eva] was a Khoisan girl who was removed from her family and tribe in the 1650s to work as a translator for the Dutch during the founding of the Cape Colony. She also played a key role in working out terms to end the Dutch-Khoi war in the 17th century.

Krotoa later married a Danish surgeon in what was South Africa's first recorded interracial marriage. After her husband was killed, she was banished to Robben Island and her children were sent to Mauritius. They only returned to South Africa after their mother's death on the island in 1674.

On Saturday, members of the Musicians Association of South Africa as well as KhoiSan chief Francisco "Autshumoa" MacKenzie attended the showcase held at Beacon Valley Secondary School in Mitchells Plain. Proceeds made at the event will be used to fund the cast whose dream is to take the show to a variety of schools across the city.

"This show is doing good things for our community. There has been three Krotoa stories released very close to each other. We want to uphold the memory of our mother [Krotoa] so our people can know their history," MacKenzie said.

The musical was written and directed by Cape Town singer and poet Janine Van Rooy-Overmeyer, also known as Blaq Pearl and Catherine Henegan. Using storytelling, poetry, dance and vibrant music, the show is performed mostly in Afrikaaps (Afrikaans). It follows the young woman who faces a number of challenges experienced by teens on the Cape Flats. At the age of 25, the woman then acknowledges and accepts her unique roots and ancestry.

The actors include: Ann Juries, Charl Van der Westhuizen aka Bliksemstraal, Lee-Anne Meyer, Lezhaune Van Rooy and Janine Van Rooy-Overmeyer.

Nearly a year ago, Krotoa was commemorated with a monument unveiled by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town on 19 August 2016. An internationally acclaimed movie based on Krotoa's life is also expected to be released in South Africa next month.

Through this production, Van Rooy-Overmeyer said their aim was to challenge audiences to question their roles in society. "It engages the audience in the hopes of inspiring them to bridge the gap between generations and to learn about our history. The showcase of Krotoa van Vandag is to liberate, educate, and to show the youth creative ways to express themselves," she said.

Van Rooy-Overmeyer told GroundUp that her production has toured schools across Cape Town between November 2016 and May this year, but was forced to limit their tour dates due to a lack of funding.

"So far it's only been to schools in Cape Town. We have been getting requests from schools in areas like Delft, Eersteriver, Elsies River, Grassy Park and Mitchells Plain. There's also interest as far as George," she said.

Van Rooy-Overmeyer said that staging a quality production like this often requires a lot of rehearsals and coordination. The cast has also started a fundraising campaign as the "cost of our production is about R1.4 million" to tour for one year.

"A lot of funds are needed to buy props, costumes, stage set up, sound, visuals, transport to schools, and to pay the cast and technical team. If we raise R60,000, we will be able to take the production to at least three schools on the Cape Flats, enabling us to reach over 3,600 young people. Meanwhile, we continue working towards getting long term funding," she said.

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