President Jacob Zuma has showed his support for the arts and cultural industries as drivers for social and cultural identity through his attendance of the “House of Truth”, a stage production based on the life and times of the late acclaimed South African author, Can Themba on Friday.
“Government will continue to support the local arts, culture and heritage industries as they are a very important partner in our drive to build a social and cultural identity for our nation,” said President Zuma.
The production features renowned actor Sello Maake ka Ncube who plays the famous author.
It brings to life the history, legacy and times of late journalist and former Drum magazine editor Can Themba, who, along with Bloke Modisane, Nat Nakasa, Lewis Nkosi and other celebrated South African writers chronicled the urban life of black people in the neighbourhood of the “multi-racial” cultural hotpot of Sophiatown in the 1950s and 1960s at the onset of the Defiance Campaign.
Their works detailed the impact of racial segregation laws, the subsequent removals and relocations that effectively pushed the black population out of town and into townships around Johannesburg.
Widely regarded as a “shebeen intellectual” of his time, one of Can Themba’s works, “The Suit”, won several prizes including the 1953 Drum Award. His stories were celebrated for the way they depicted the harsh and depressing conditions of African life in the Johannesburg townships.
“House of Truth”, the name of the production, is based on Themba’s Sophiatown dwelling, which was known by that name and was famed in Sophiatown for receiving many visitors looking for intelligent conversation with Themba and other Kofifi luminaries.
Can Themba was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga which is an award bestowed on contributors to the field of literature by the President. Themba received this award for his “excellent achievement in literature, contributing to the field of journalism and striving for a just and democratic society in South Africa”.