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The Sounds of Hlakanyana wins NIHSS Award

‘The Sounds of Hlakanyana’ won the Award for Best Public Performance at the 7th Humanities and Social Sciences Awards 2022.

Presented by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), the Humanities and Social Sciences Awards took place on 31 March 2022 where UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), and co-producer Madevu Entertainment were announced as the winners of the Best Public Performance award for their virtual concert ‘The Sounds of Hlakanyana’ that took place in 2021.

"UJ Arts & Culture is thrilled to share this acknowledgement with our co-producers at Madevu Entertainment and we look forward to invite audiences to the full theatre experience in May," said Pieter Jacobs, Head of UJ Arts & Culture. “While ‘The Sounds of Hlakanyana’ was intended to offer a taste of what is to come in 2022 when the full musical will be presented, and to test some of the material, the online concert was created as animated virtual experience in its own right and we are delighted that it has resonated with audiences,” he adds.

Directed by Janice Honeyman and co-produced by Madevu Entertainment, the musical casts a spotlight on Hlakanyana, one of the best-known characters in African folklore. A cunning, unethical creature, depicted in animal or human form, Hlakanyana is the long-awaited son of the chief of a village, but instead of being a uniting force he leaves devastation in his wake. The cast for the much-anticipated run at the UJ Arts Centre in May includes Sandisile Dlangalala, Dolly Louw, MoMo Matsunyane, Sibusiso Mxosana, Manakomba Ndimande, Siphiwe Nkabinde, Mphumzi Nontshinga and Kensiwe Mathebula Tshabalala.

‘Hlakanyana’ is produced as part of the University of Johannesburg's Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture’s award-winning interdisciplinary theatre programme that challenges second-year students from across the faculty to design selected aspects of a professional theatre production. The musical was commissioned by UJ Arts & Culture in 2020 and since then the development of the project attracted support of the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) and the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

The creation process included MoMo Matsunyane as head writer in collaboration with actors Khutjo Green, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri and Lebo Borole, and dancer/choreographer Khaya Ndlovu. As the workshopping, script development and musical score conception adapted to new digital mediums, the process took on different forms and allowed the artists to explore new avenues of creativity and unexpected synergies. In September 2020, the creative team: Zolani Shangase and Michael William Wallace of Madevu Entertainment, composer/musical director, Sne Dladla and lyricist Dionne Song were able to meet in person to create, score and perform the music with singers; Lebo Borole, Mthokozisi Khanyile, MoMo Matsunyane, Neo Motaung, Tshepo Ncokoane, Senzo Radebe, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri, Zolani Shangase, award-winning playwright and poet Napo Masheane as the Narrator, and the Viwe Mkizwana Ensemble, collaborated on voice and sound. The music was recorded live at UJ Arts Centre by recording engineer Clifford Machingaifa and final mix and master by industry stalwart Mark Cheyne.

For a sneak peak, follow this link to listen to five of the songs that will be featured in the musical. These songs and more can be heard in the stage production of ‘Hlakanyana’ opening on 25 May and which will run at the UJ Arts Centre’s Keorapetse William Kgositsile Theatre on the Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park until 4 June. Ticket sales will open soon.

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About UJ Arts & Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA ( offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.