19 July 2013
Credo, a ground-breaking multimedia oratorio based on the unifying values embodied in South Africa’s Freedom Charter, premiered at the University of South Africa’s (Unisa’s) ZK Matthews Great Hall in a double-celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday and Unisa’s 140th anniversary on Thursday.
Created by composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, writer Brent Meersman and multimedia artist Andrew Black, Credo is a 67-minute multimedia production that explores the triumph of the human spirit over adversity through a soaring fusion of African lyricism and symphonic tradition.
Sibongile Khumalo leads the cast, joined by Otto Maidi and Monika Wassung and accompanied by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jonas Alber.
“Singing in Credo promises to be a special experience,” Khumalo said ahead of Thursday’s premiere. “Learning the music has been both a challenge and a pleasure. Generally, learning new music always stretches one. Learning modern music stretches one even further. It has been fun applying one’s mind to it. I look forward to sharing it with all who will be there.”
Credo is based on one of the poem’s in Meersman’s 2010 collection Ophila and the Poet and other poems.
Meersman said of the poem that he had tried “to distil in the simplest and clearest human terms … what sits at the heart of the Freedom Charter … what created the vision we still have because of that document.
“Freed from a certain amount of noise that comes with the language of the Charter itself, it reminds us of our common purpose, in poetic terms, of us not only as South Africans, but as part of the human enterprise.”
The production will have three performances during its world premiere run, on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Tickets range from R60 to R200 and are available from Computicket.
Alongside the performances, the production includes a series of public dialogues and educational programmes intended to promote citizenship and foster national unity, while raising awareness of the Freedom Charter and South Africa’s historic commitment to non-racialism.
A public dialogue will be held at Freedom Park outside Pretoria at 6pm on Saturday, considering the Freedom Charter as a cultural text. Writer Brent Meersman will chair the panel, which will include poet laureate Keorapetse William Kgositsile, composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, musicologist Ncebakazi Mnukwana, and arts journalist Gwen Ansell.