IMumbo Jumbo

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workshopped dance-drama devised by Brett Bailey and cast (1997) as iMumbo Jumbo (The Days of Miracle and Wonder). Second in a trilogy of plays, The Plays of Miracle and Wonder: Ipi Zombi?, iMumbo Jumbo and The Prophet.


The journey of a rural South African spiritual leader into the Wonderland of 20th Century Britain. iMumbo Jumbo dramatises the true, intrepid, sacred and quixotic 1996 quest of Chief Nicholas Tilana Gcaleka (sangoma, priest, liquor salesman, guru) to retrieve the head of his ancestor, King Hintsa kaPhalo - Paramount Chief of the amaXhosa nation, killed by a Colonial posse in 1836 - and thereby to restore peace to South Africa. Escorted from Heathrow Airport by Sky TV Chief Gcaleka travels to Scotland where he eventually unearths a skull in Inverness. The arrival of the skull in the amaXhosa homeland stirs up a hornets' nest of tribal politics. iMumbo Jumbo takes the form of a whacky, musical African pantomime enclosed within a ceremony held by Chief Gcaleka to bring peace to the country. The story is a moving modern hero myth dealing with many topical issues: a traditional African perspective on the causes of violence in South Africa, a demand from the heart of Africa for recompense for the social and cultural destruction caused by colonialism, a look at the tensions between traditional and contemporary values and modes of thinking within our country, a plea for a more spiritual orientation within our national psyche... [1]

Performance history in South Africa

Written, designed and directed by Brett Bailey, with Abey Xakwe, Vukile Handula, Andile Bonde, Lefa Letsika and Noxolo Donyeli, premièred on the main programme of the Grahamstown Festival 1997, presented by Third World Bunfight and directed by Brett Bailey. Staged at the Market Theatre in 1997, the Barbican Theatre (London) in 2003, the Grahamstown Festival 2003 and the Baxter Theatre in 2003.

Translations and adaptations


Grahamstown Festival Programme, 1997

See: [Van Heerden (2008)][2]. pp 144-147.

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