NOBESUTHU RAYI, the National Arts Festival’s Acting Executive Producer, selects her NAF 2019 Top 5 picks from a fresh and full programme:

Ingoma Ka Tiyo Soga

I look forward to experiencing an exhibition of Skhumbuzo Makandula with Mthwakazi (pictured below), who will be showcasing the work of Tiyo Soga, the first black South African to be ordained (1856). As I look into this piece, I am reminded of the state of our country and I can’t stop myself from hearing Tiyo Soga’s voice in my head:

NAF 2019 - Skhumbuzo Makandula with MthwakaziLizalis’ idinga lakho, (Fullfil/realise your promise)
 Thixo Nkosi yenyaniso! (Faithful/Truthful God)
 Zonk’ iintlanga, zonk’ izizwe, (All races, all nations,)
Ma zizuze usindiso. (must be saved)


This is one production that defines many beings in South Africa, where one’s mere existence can be a curse and an albatross to many. Amawethu tells a human story that seeks to rectify or, rather, to reclaim who we are as a people from our culture and customs – and to correct the distortions that pre-date the African slave trade that led us to believe that African spirituality had a demonic, pagan, uncivilised, barbaric and godless origin.

NAF 2019 - Dumza Maswana

Celebrating African Song

The National Arts Festival is deeply rooted in the Eastern Cape, so baritone Dumza Maswana (pictured left) will pay homage to two of our own song birds, Mama Madosini and Mama Nofinishi Dywili.  Celebrating African Song will take audience members on a journey through the majestic Eastern Cape, whose songs and melodies are echoed through the valleys and mountains. The raw isiXhosa indigenous songs will be sung here, in our home of legends.


Hannah Ma, a German Chinese choreographer, will treat us to a contemporary dance production that is about the search for home and the longing for rituals that transcend cultural boundaries. The dance creates a space where members of a multicultural group are able to express their individual artistic characters, while discovering a common form that works beyond language barriers. This reminds me of a lot of things that we tend to forget in search of how different we are, “the blood that runs in our veins is red”.

NAF- Drakensberg Boy's Choir

Drakensberg Boy’s Choir

This is one of those feel-good shows where I know I will just sit down and be reminded of how beautiful our country can be if only we can allow it to be such. I can’t wait to be taken through a melodic, harmonious journey by these young people paying tribute to many of our South African musicians. I know that families will enjoy this show, being entertained by the choir’s latest folklore programme titled Lalela – Zulu (Listen – Zulu), which celebrates 25 years of freedom in our country. This programme takes the form of a theatrical music journey, depicting elements of rural and city life in South Africa pre-1994, as well as our path to reconciliation and the celebration of our diverse nation and its music.

What: NAF 2019

Where and when: Makhanda from 27 June to 7 July 2019

Visit: National Arts Festival 2019 Programme