Amal’ezulu a multi-movement theatre work comes to UJ

Amal’ezulu is a multi-movement theatre work for a male chorus, narrator and instrumental ensemble composed by 2023 University of Johannesburg Artist in Residence, Pieter Bezuidenhout. The musical work is based on extracts from the volume of poetry by esteemed Zulu poet, Benedict Wallet Vilakazi. The text of the work is based on both the original Zulu poems written by Vilakazi, the literal translations done by Mandlenkosi Sikakana and the rendered English verse by Florence Friedman. Vilakazi is widely considered the father of modern Zulu poetry.

Amal’ezulu will be presented as a musical journey of Vilakazi ‘s poetry and his depictions of KwaZulu-Natal. The production will be premiered at the UJ Arts Centre on the 2nd of November 2023, and subsequently performed again at the MOgale Festival in Tshwane on the 4th of November 2023. Through instrumental and vocal music, guided by a spoken word artist, the work will seek the musical meeting point between correct cultural interpretation and musical evolution. First published in 1945, this volume was written during the ten years he spent living in Johannesburg, in ‘exile’ from his birthplace, KwaZulu-Natal. The poems in this collection represent a turning point in Vilakazi’s life; they express yearnings for the beloved land, animals, and ancestral spirits of his rural home, as well as expressions of deep disillusionment with the urban life he encountered in the ‘City of Gold’.

The production will be presented in both Zulu and English. The production will be conducted by American-based South African conductor, Charlotte Botha. Pieter Bezuidenhout (Composer and pianist), Puno Selesho (narrator), Veni Cantare (Male chorus), Magdalene de Vries and Wian Joubert (percussion).

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.