David Kramer and Taliep Pietersen’s new musical, Ghoema (pronounced Goe-ma) opened at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre Complex this week. Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout was in the audience, in the guise of Pieter Dirk Uys, all dressed down like a friendly old lesbian. Premier Ebrahim Rasool was also there, wearing one of those famous Madiba style shirts, which shows that desperate politicians will do almost anything to gain popularity. And of course David Kramer, the show’s director, was beaming from ear to ear, sporting one of his little trademark hats, but sans the Volksie bus and red vellies!

But it was the audience, made up mostly of Cape Town’s Malay descendants, that really made the show for me. They cherished, encouraged and screamed with laughter at all the antics on stage, which revealed the story of how their ancestors created such a rich culture in the Cape.

For Ghoema, in the form of characteristic narratives and old traditional liedtjies, tells the story of the slaves that were brought to the region from Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Ceylon and Indonesia. This fusion of Creole society gave birth to the ghoema music which has become such a vital part of the Cape’s heritage.

Ghoema is edutainment at its best, and in its refreshing simplicity it unearths the treasures of our colourful past. My guest and I were filled with a sense of proud nostalgia and felt blessed to live in Cape Town where we are able to soak in its cultural flavour every day.

I do have some reservations about how much an audience outside Cape Town will connect with the subject matter, but I feel that the entertainment the show provides compensates for that. I also feel that the first half needs editing in parts, as the unfamiliar long old liedjies slow the show down at times.

The cast is superb and Loukmaan Adams and Zenobia Kloppers need special mention. These outstanding performers carry the show and these performers’ unique magic makes the drama poignant and real. The two young buffoons, Hot ‘n Tot, provide a clever foil for the traditional action, and these two rappers are hysterically portrayed by Munthir Dullisear and Gary Naidoo.

Ghoema runs at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre from 11 November 2005 – 7 January 2006

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