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Introducing Bra Gib: Father of South Africa’s Township Theatre by Rolf Solberg

Bra GibBra Gib: Father of South Africa’s Township Theatre by Rolf Solberg is an account of the life and work of Gibson Kente – fondly known to many as “Bra Gib” – widely recognised to be the foremost black playwright and one of the leading cultural icons of his time. His prolific musical productions, staged between the mid-1960s and 2004, were enthusiastically received by township audiences throughout South Africa. Kente’s touring township shows came to define South African township theatre and provided the base from which much black – and other – South African theatre was later to flourish. His work to date has been poorly documented and the records of all but one of his plays were lost in a fire.

As the first definitive work on this talented, influential and controversial man, Solberg’s Bra Gib comes to fill a gap that needed urgent addressing. Presented in two parts, it gives a chronological overview of Kente’s plays and the popular and critical reaction to them, and also includes anecdotal insights into the famous Kente working methods from those who knew and worked with him.

Overall, Bra Gib offers a fascinating portrait of the multi-faceted man who was playwright, teacher, musician and entrepreneur – and does not shrink from engaging the controversies that surrounded the later part of Kente’s career.

About the author

Rolf Solberg has spent most of his professional life as a teacher of English and Anglo-African literature. His home is in Norway, but he spends a few months every year in South Africa.

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