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Veteran actors Kani and Whitehead to bring a heart-wrenching story to life

702 logo702 2018-10-12 Matshepo Sehloho
a man wearing glasses: Isidingo's Barker Haines, played by Robert Whitehead. Picture: Supplied © Provided by KFM Radio a Division of Primedia Pty Ltd Isidingo's Barker Haines, played by Robert Whitehead. Picture: Supplied

Belgian King Leopold II's rule over the Congo was a horror story. He ran a personal empire so vast and cruel, it rivaled and even exceeded the crimes of the worst 20th century dictators.

The empire, known as the Congo Free State, was administered as the private property of this one man for his personal enrichment, while he stood as its undisputed slave master.

READ: The power of South African Theatre and story-telling

And if he were alive today, there is no doubt he would be on trial at The Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity for his exploits in the Congo in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Now you get to re-live that gut-wrenching political era in this play directed by award-winning director Lesedi Job in the production of Congo The Trial of King Leopold II, a work adapted from Mark Twain’s King Léopold’s Soliloquy which is about his defence of his Congo rule.

John Kani and Robert Whitehead will be starring in the play with Kani playing the role of the people’s advocate Xoli Mlambo, and Robert as King Leopold 11.

Whitehead says he and Kani have a great history together working at the Market Theatre.

"Years, ago, when John was artistic director of the Market, he was given this text by Mark Twain’s King Léopold’s Soliloquy by the then president Thabo Mbeki who said do what you can do with this."

He adds that when they received the play, they didn't quite know what to do with it and they were swept away doing research.

He says they have come full circle and decided to take the play and stage it.

Listen below to the full interview:

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