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Theatre Stalwart Mbongeni Ngema’s Asinamali closes DIFF 2017

28 Jul, 2017

Asinamali - We Have No Money.
The closing film at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) was Asinamli produced by Mbongeni Ngema, Darrell Roodt and David Dison.

Ngema and Roodt have collaborated in the past, perhaps most notably on the globally acclaimed Sarafina.

Asinamali is an adaptation of Ngema’s Broadway production written in 1983 and performed internationally.

It is a narrative of inmates locked up in a prison governed by extreme fear and cruelty.

Liberty from this form of oppression was instigated by the arrival of Comrade Washington - a former soldier turned theatre director - who lit a fire of resistance, encouraging and inspiring the inmates to find freedom through music, dance, and storytelling. The culmination of this creativity led to prisoners performing for the authorities.    

In assembling these performances, inmates told the stories behind their incarceration, which was a result of the oppression that took place outside and beyond the prison walls.

Most detainees were comrades of Msizi Dube, a Robben Island prisoner who led them with passion and anger. This was a demonstration of resistance against proposed rent increases in Durban’s Lamontville Township, with residents crying ASINAMALI - We have no money.

Dube had been detained on Robben Island and when he was released fellow detainee Nelson Mandela told him to ‘go and advance the struggle on behalf of his fellow comrades still in detention as well as the people of South Africa so that they could one day join him in a free South Africa’.


The film thrilled audience members with its powerful narrative, passionate performance and searing harmonies.

It featured an original soundtrack by Ngema combining his exceptional skills in song, dance, arrangement and acting over the years. The film responds to the call to preserve the story of our past for our future generations.

The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College Of Humanities together with the eThekwini Municipality, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the German Embassy, the Goethe Institute and the National Film and Video Foundation, among others, brought the 38th International Film Festival to Durban.

The festival is the longest running of its kind in Africa, bringing together film makers and industry experts from all over the world and recognising talented film makers providing opportunities for them to join the mainstream media.

DIFF is a beacon of hope, priding itself on learning and growth within the industry.  

Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela; BiyelaZ@ukzn.ac.za

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