Speech by Minister Lulu Xingwana at the launch of “Tap Roots : Footsteps to Memory” at Sandton Convention Centre

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02 Jul 2010

Programme Director,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am honoured to address you tonight. There is a lot of excitement in the air as Ghana is pitted against Uruguay tonight at Soccer City, Johannesburg. Africa’s hopes lie with Ghana, the Black Stars of Africa, the only African team remaining in this World Cup.

This African tournament has been extremely exciting with many unexpected results – the two teams which were in the final in the last World Cup in 2006 in Germany were knocked out in the first round, that is France and Italy. The Quarter –finals are being played this weekend leaving us with the four toughest games next week.  This tournament has brought us together and tonight’s game brings Africa together.

Tonight we are gathered here to witness an energetic and high-spirited musical fiesta Tap Roots: Footsteps of Memory, with a highly talented cast which includes Esmeralda Machogo, Desmond Dube, Mfana Jones Hlope, Sibulele Gcilitshane, Thabo Seabi and Amos Ketlele. Desmond Dube started his career in a musical named “Street Sisters” which toured Europe. He then participated in ‘Jozi Jozi’ which was also successful and was taken to Europe. Desmond believes that the performing arts can be a platform to influence people positively, he then embarked on a social movement against crime called the “Million Man March”, a commendable move. He is also the founder of Dube Talent Vision which uses the arts to educate young people throughout the African continent. Many of the other dancers are also seasoned performers, both as actors and dancers.

The story line is based on a true story of Janet Hampton-Carpede, a South African singer and dancer who toured the world with “Ipi Tombi” before settling in the USA. She is also staring in this production.

South Africans love to dance, as a result we have a number of traditional dances in different parts of the country. We also have many slick urban dances such as ‘gum boots’,  ‘pantsula’, ‘hip-hop’, the set dance known as ‘codesa’ and now the ‘diski’.  There are also wedding dances, creative expressions of the bridal parties. The many variations of ‘Gum boots’, a recreational dance created by mine-workers, allowed for them to escape from the drudgery and hardship of their dangerous work and enjoy this outlet. Pantsula is a South African township dance form that emerged in the '50s. It represents a way of life, dress and speech (tsotsitaal) and is considered symbolic of township culture.

The story that we are about to enjoy, is about a warm welcome-home party in Soweto for an aunt who has been in exile for 27 years. This Welcome Home Party provides the canvass for the various dances we have in South Africa through the backdrop of Tap Dancing. It allows for the viewer to experience the many dance forms that have developed in South Africa with the various influences around.  Sello KaNcube through Tap Dance cleverly weaves a pathway through diverse dances to include South Africa’s “born free” hip-hop generation. 

Sello Maake KaNcube is a very well known and popular theatre personality who has acted in Gibson Kente’s productions, through to Market Theatre, TV soapies, like ‘Generations’ to London’s West End Theatre.  He is one of the greatest actors our country has produced. With Sello at the helm this production promises to be a real treat, inspiring young people to follow in his footsteps.

Please enjoy.