Singqokwana's Dream Deferred

Xolani Ngesi

Mr Singqokwana Ernest Malgas, who cried on television in 1996 during his Truth and Reconciliation Commission Testimony, touched the entire nation of South Africa and had Archbishop Desmond Tutu in tears when he shared his story of torture at the hands of apartheid police. Later he would tell a delegation of councillors from the Eastern Cape to build a museum in New Brighton so that the township’s children never forget its contribution to South African history. Red Location Museum was built but complications with the community resulted in the museum being closed for a decade later.

Gqeberha artist Xolani Ngesi has devised the theatre production Singqokwana’s Dream Deferred around Mr Malgas’ story, reflecting on the lost history and legacy of Black Art and the struggle against apartheid.  This production is a historical account of Singqokwana’s life from child to activist and is a shining example of storytelling that reflects the community back to itself for it to see where it comes from and what has come of it.

In a time not so long ago, Gqeberha, formally Port Elizabeth was at the forefront of the struggle against Apartheid and was a mecca of the arts, jazz, theatre and painting. Unfortunately this legacy has begun to wither and is being forgotten by those who were meant to inherit it, the current and coming generations. Singqokwana’s Dream Deferred responds to the responsibility to ensure the history of Elali Ebomvu (Red Location) is kept alive and never forgotten: communities in the past had riots and today we have museums. In New Brighton however the museum built to keep our legacy alive has been closed for almost 15 years and in that same time the community has forgotten its contribution to the national narrative of attaining freedom and democracy.

Xolani Ngesi first debuted this touching production outside the Red Location Museum in February 2020, where he intentionally sought the blessing of the community from which Singqokwana Malgas came from. His performance was received by the young, old, the broken, sober, drunk and many other people representing Red Location who were visibly shaken with some breaking into tears. Ngesi has received the blessing to stage this production from both the community of Red Location and most importantly the family of Singqokwana.

This production is a historical account of Singqokwana’s life from child to activist and is a shining example of storytelling that reflects the community back to itself for it to see where it comes from and what has come of it.

About the Artists

Xolani Ngesi, a native of Port Elizabeth, New Brighton, honed his acting craft under the mentorship of internationally respected theatre stalwarts like Winston Ntshona, Nomhle Nkonyeni, and Janet Backland. His theatrical journey includes notable performances in productions such as Ziyabheda Mzala, Three Little Pigs (touring primary schools in Nelson Mandela Bay), Thuthula (premiered at the National Arts Festival), Ghetto Goats (touring England), and Shakespearean classics Hamlet and As You Like It with Shakespeare South Africa, covering the Eastern Cape.

Xolani co-wrote and starred in Hungry Road, premiering at Baxter Theatre and touring England. His collaborative effort, Its Not Me, earned multiple awards, including Best Script and Best Actor at Ikhwezi. He further co-wrote, acted, and co-produced The Dust, which premiered at the National Arts Festival. Trained as a clown and balloon bender at the Boardwalk casino, Xolani directed and performed in Cracked Mirror, recipient of the 2013 Standard Bank Ovation Award. He featured in productions like Truck Driver and Ukutshona ko Mendi, as well as Did We Dance? written by Lara Foot and directed by Mandla Mbothwe. His involvement extends to various industrial theatres in and outside Nelson Mandela Bay.

In 2020, Xolani engaged in a performance in Red Location, fostering creative and cultural revival through the play Singqokwana’s Dream Deferred, delving into the history of Red Location Township. Deeply connected to New Brighton’s cultural legacy, having worked with Nomhle Nkonyeni and Winston Ntshona, Xolani is committed to passing on the lessons learned by mentoring younger artists based on the principles instilled by these theatrical legends.

  • Target Age Group
    16 to 18 years
  • Age Classification
  • Reason for Classification
    • Polical Themes

  • February 19, 2024
    17:00 - 17:40
    Mendi Arts Centre

  • February 20, 2024
    17:00 - 17:40
    Mendi Arts Centre
  • Name
    Mendi Arts Centre
  • Location
    Mendi Arts Centre, New Brighton, Gqeberha
  • Directions
    The Mendi Centre has secure parking , through the entrance on Mendi Road.
  • Map Link
  • Accessibility Info
    Mendi is fully accessible to wheelchair users as there are no steps on the performance and exhibition levels.
  • Wheelchair Directions
  • Primary Language
  • Accessibility Information
  • Event Format