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Sarafina! – Broadway Cast Recording 1988

Sarafina! – Broadway Cast Recording 1988

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Synopsis

Note: Some of the songs in Sarafina!are sung in Zulu. In order better to understand the content of these songs, their lyrics have been translated into English in the synopsis, even though they are sung in Zulu on the recording. The story of Sarafina! follows the activities of a group of students at Morris Isaacson High School in the black township of Soweto. Act I begins as the students introduce themselves in song (“Zibuyile Emasisweni”). I was born in the village Where the cows go grazing And the sheep come along with the people Where the people call Wemame When you hear me talk this way I come from that land From that land of beauty I can see it coming from that mountain. One student named Colgate (known for his dazzling smile, “which is a killer for women”) acts as narrator and explains that his school is popular because of its reputation for political activism. It was here at Morris lsaacson, in 1976, that student leaders like Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso first organized protests against the govemment. Colgate also gives the who’s who in his school today. There are a lot of “interesting characters” like Teaspoon (the school gossip), Stimela Sasezola (the school trendsetter, whose love for trains earned him the nickname “Express to Soweto”) and their teacher, Mistress It’s a Pity (so named because she uses that phrase at random, for any and all occasions). And then there is one girl – Sarafina – whom the whole school loves for a number of different reasons (“Sarafina”): They call you pretty Mama They call you pretty Baby They treat you like a lady You smile for another gentleman But when I send you chocolate and flowers You say I make you vex You give your Junior sister the chocolate You throw out me pretty flowers for your window You break me heart in pieces You make I wanna cry You make palaver, Sarafina Sarafina, when you talk the way you talk Me body temperature begins to rise Sarafina, Sarafina, you’re the one Sarafina, when you walk the way you walk Perspiration commence to cover me Flowing down me body Sarafina, Sarafina, you’re the one Sarafina, please don’t run away from me I love you, Sarafina I love you, Sarafina Sarafina, please don’t run away from me. The students’ school day begins with a musical rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.” English class follows with a recitation of Wordsworth’s poem “Westminster Bridge.” When Sarafina asks, “Why do we have to learn about beautiful cities in England which have nothing to do with us?” Mistress responds, “It’s a pity!” Next, algebra lessons and then, history class. As Sarafina explains, Mistress teaches them “the history that is not in the books,” about the black leaders who have led the war of resistance. Sarafina herself leads the class in a chant: “Nelson Mandela is a hero. We know the government is shit.” Time passes. Sarafina has been put in jail for stirring up trouble. At recess in the schoolyard, Stimela, Teaspoon and some others discuss what must be happening to Sarafina. Two months later, when she returns to school, Sarafina shows them the scars from when she was beaten in prison. Yet, as Colgate remarks, Sarafina has come back “with more commitment, stronger than ever,” and she insists that classes go on as before. And they do, with a lesson on the oil producing countries (“Yes, Mistress It’s a Pity”). Mistress asks the students to name the countries: Angola, Nigeria, Venezuela, Algeria, Texas, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. When a student mentions Libya, a policeman who has been patrolling the school corridor enters the classroom, waving his rifle in front of the students. “What you say?” he asks. “Libya … that’s where Khaddafi stays,” answer the students. “Communist! You teaching Communism?” the policeman spits at the teacher, slapping her to the ground. “How can you teach about Khaddafi in Soweto? Don’t you know it’s against the law?” he asks. “But she’s teaching us about the oil-producing countries and Libya is one of them,” Sarafina argues. The policeman aims to fire, and the students run away, throwing anything they can find at him. He begins shooting and some of the students fall dead in a heap. At the funeral for their dead classmates the students sing a dirge (“Give Us Power”). A priest delivers a eulogy: “God has given … and the police, they have taken. What has happened to these children is not the unusual.” Stimela leads the others in a protest chant. And as they lower the coffins into graves, the students cry out, “Afunani Amaphoyisa eSoweto” (“What are the police doing in Soweto?”): The young men are all dead Oh, my God, the children weep Our fathers languish in prison Our mothers are all alone Where is Mandela, Mxenge and Sobukwe? Where is Mandela, Mbeki and Sisulu? Answer me if you can There is no more hope for the peace! People dying, people crying Wo, people can’t take it easy. The children then sing the black South African “national anthem” – “Nkosi Sikeleli’ Afrika (God Bless Africa)” – and a declaration of their determination to make a change – “Freedom Is Coming Tomorrow.” After an exuberant entr’acte by the band (“Excuse Me Baby”), Act II opens with an announcement that the students are organizing a protest to the State of Emergency (“Meeting Tonight”). Like their predecessors in 1976, these children are prepared to battle for their rights (“Stand and Fight”): When we walk down this dark path We want to stand and fight for our land Listen, this is Africa We belong right here. One of the students, Thandi, sings a lament (“Uyamemeza Umgoma”): The Diviner screams out painfully Ahhh! Shhh! She says, What is this evil spirit In my father’s house? Oh, Mama! Oh, Mama! The herd-boys have gone off with the cattle Driving them to the grazing fields They’ll return when the cattle return From these green grazing hills and valleys Where the ancestors safeguard them. At school the next day, Mistress asks the students what they want to present at the annual end-of-school-year show. They decide to do a musical production, which will end with a song about Nelson Mandela coming home from prison, meeting people on the Day of Liberation. Of course, all of the students want to play Mandela, but in the end Sarafina wins the part, as she has proven her commitment to the struggle against apartheid more than anyone else in the class. Inspired by Sarafina, the students sing “Voster Sisolilwela,” declaring, “We will fight for our land until we get it back.” Sarafina tells them about her childhood idol, Victoria Mxenge, a black lawyer and activist. (Mxenge’s story, like many of the stories in Sarafina!, is not fictional) Sarafina tells how Mxenge won a court case for a black woman who had been raped by a white man. Normally, the white man might have been acquitted, but Mxenge cleverly won the case by pointing out that South Africa’s Immorality Act prohibits a white man from making love to a black woman. Sarafina acts out the rape scene as the other students echo the voice of the white man who scornfully demands of the black woman, “Why do you turn me down, girl, when you are so emaciated that you’re not worth looking at?” (“Wawungalelani”). Mxenge’s final case was a treason trial; one night, when she was returning from the courthouse, she was murdered outside her home by four white men bearing axes, a bush knife and a gun – while her children watched helplessly from inside the house. Remembering Mxenge’s brutal death, Sarafina screams out in horror – “Mama, Mama, Mama…”. The others try to console her (“Mama”): Those times of depression Don’t let them bring you down, Mama Those times of loss, Don’t let them bring you down, Mama When there’s nothing there to eat No soap, no money for the family Oh, Mama, Mama Oh, when you cannot find a job and you need consolation Oh, Mama, Mama And all of us who cling unto you and cry Mama, Mama, woza Mama Those times of loss, Don’t let them bring you down, Mama. Days later, some students gather on the street to gossip about the latest arrests. Policemen approach and chase the students, beating them with clubs and throwing them on a police van with other students who have been picked up for detention. As the students are brought to prison, they sing “Sechaba”: The nation is weeping The flocks are wiped out Our fathers are in jail Arrested for being without passbooks The coal train has taken them to Johannesburg All the young boys and girls have fled to Soweto The women and their babies are left alone Come and see the troubles of Africa Do not tell lies We’ve heard you work for the enemy Our ancestors have risen to summon us back home Do not try and lead us astray My sisters and brothers have run away to America My aunt is a refugee in Zimbabwe My uncle rots in Medderbee Jail My other uncle ages in the bars The whole world laughs at us Come and see the troubles of Africa. In prison the children cry, “The black nation is being killed, the African nation is dying. Won’t somebody please intercede on our behalf to stop this killing?” (“Isizwe”). Colgate reflects that those days “went down bitter and sore in the presence of the army and the police, not only in our schoolyard but right inside our classrooms. Those were the days of anger, of panic and fear, the days when our brothers and sisters disappeared into the police cells. Others came back and others never came back.” Finally, it is the end of the school year. At the school show, Mistress appears onstage to introduce her students’ concert, but first she has a few words of her own (“Goodbye”): Goodbye, farewell, children. It’s a pity that we have to say goodbye Outside the world is waiting It’s a pity that some have gone underground Don’t forget to write a letter once in awhile Tell us if you’re doin’ alright When the world is treating you wrong We’ll always be by your side Don’t stay away too long, come back home Don’t stay away, don’t stay away too long It’s a pity that we have to say goodbye. And with that, the concert starts off with a joyous number celebrating the natural wonders of southern Africa (“Kilimanjaro”): Get down to the mountains of Kinshasa Get down to the forest of Zimbabwe Kilimanjaro, hey! Take me to the rivers of Limpopo Take me to the mountains of Somali, hey! Take a country ride on a freeway Drive to the Transkei, drive to the Ceskei The Valley of the Thousand Hills on my way On my way to Zululand The green on the mountain and fields and the forests Stretches to Limbombo Down to Mozambique Oh, Kilamanjaro! This is followed by “Africa Burning in the Sun”: Africa burning in the sun Somebody please carry me some water Cultural directions catching fire Yellow smoke signals on the horizon Man the fire station! But the rhythms of the drums, marimba melodies The ululating women and the balafons The foot-stomping warriors and the strumming of guitars Keep on playing on and on The oceans and the river of the music Will never run dry, run dry Raise your voices, keep on singing to the drums The drums of Africa music. The next song (“Olayithi”) addresses the issue that started all the student protests in 1976. They sing, ‘‘There is no Subject in the world that is as impossible for a black child to learn as the language of Afrikaans. Not history, not biology, it’s Afrikaans.” The show ends with a celebration of the day the children all dream of, when their beloved leader is released from prison (“Bring Back Nelson Mandela”): Bring back Nelson Mandela Bring him back home to Soweto I want to see him walking down the streets Of South Africa Bring back Nelson Mandela Bring him back home to Soweto I want to see him walking hand in hand With Winnie Mandela. Sarafina, playing the part of Mandela delivers the speech that she imagines Mandela will give upon his release: “My people, today I am free. We were released from prison, because you never forgot us. You constantly demanded our release and carried on the struggle. We are here today not to revenge or destroy but to build the future … where all of us, black and white, can come together and forget the past and work to liberate our land. We should remember that it is only when South Africa is free that all of Africa can be free!” Cheers and screams break out, and the students sing – stronger than ever – a reprise of “Freedom Is Coming Tomorrow!”

Credits

Colgate: Pat Mlaba Teaspoon: Lindiwe Dlamini Crocodile: Dumisani Dlamini Silence: Congo Hadebe Stimela Sasezola: Nhlanhla Ngema Mistress It’s a Pity: Baby Cele S’Ginci, Police Lieutenant: Mhlathi Khuzwayo Sarafina: Leleti Khumalo Thandekile: Thandekile Nhlanhla Thandi: Thandi Zulu Lindiwe: Lindiwe Hlengwa Bhoboza: Thamsanqa Hlatywayo Siboniso: Siboniso Khumalo Magundane: Ntomb’khona Dlamini Kipizane: Kipizane Skweylya China: Linda Mchunu Scabha: Khumbuzile Dlamini Timba, Policeman: Cosmas Sithole Thandani, Priest: Thandani Mavimbela Mubi, Police Sergeant: Mubi Mofokeng Dumadu: Nonhlamhla Mbambo Harry: Harrison White Vanessa: Vanessa Williams Nandi: Nandi Ndlovu The Band: Keyboards: Eddie Mathibe, Master Mathibe, Livy Phahle Trumpets: Makate Peter Mofolo, Ray Molefe Lead guitar: Douglas Mnisi Drums: Bruce Mwandla Bass: S’Manga Nhlebela Saxophone: Lemmy “Special” Mabaso Special Guest Artist (horn): Hugh Masekela