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KZN Film Commission holds inaugural Simon Sabela awards
Stephen Coan


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 37
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The inaugural KZN Film Commission Simon Sabela film awards were held last Saturday evening. The commision was set up last year to promote the province of KwaZulu-Natal as a film and television location. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi received the final award of the evening – and gave an excellent acceptance speech. Here is the text.

SIMON "MABHUNU" SABELA FILM AWARDS
“CELEBRATING PIONEERS, LEGENDS AND VETERANS OF South Africa’S FILM INDUSTRY”
REMARKS BY
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Durban
20 July 2013

I was somehow surprised when I received news from the MEC (for Economic Development and Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal, Michael Mabuyakhulu) that I had been nominated to receive the inaugural Simon “Mabhunu” Sabela Film Award. I don’t consider myself a film star.
Yet I did have the privilege of working with Simon Sabela when we acted together in the 1964 film Zulu, where Simon was one of the stuntmen. We also acted together in Tokoloshe. I subsequently worked on the BBC documentary As Thick As Grass, which recounted the Battle of Isandlwana. But my friendship with Simon was firmly cemented with that first film, Zulu. We spent many happy moments at the foot of the Drakensberg, which was the set of the film.
I therefore dedicate this award to that epic production, which became a milestone vent, not only in cinematic history, but within the Zulu nation.
The film Zulu recounts the battle of Rorke’s Drift, immediately after the Zulu regiments defeated the Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s army on the 22nd of January 1879. The success of Zulu was due in large part to director Cy Endfield’s determination to accurately portray the pathos of the battlefield. To do this, he enlisted the help of thousands upon thousands of Zulu men who became extras.
It was remarkable at the time to engage so many extras. But what was more remarkable was that they were not emotionally removed from the work. Indeed, these men found themselves re-enacting the deeds of their own grandfathers. Somehow this drew the audience into what was, in the end, a very human experience.
The memories evoked by the film were recent in our national consciousness. They were part of the cultural narrative we grew up with and part of what shaped us as a nation.
It was therefore incomprehensible when a year after it release, Zulu was give a “D” certificate by censors in South Africa, effectively barring black South Africans from watching the film. Particularly so when one considers that, decades later, Empire magazine listed Zulu as one of the 500 greatest films. I was glad that a special arrangement was made to at least screen it for the thousands of extras, in places like Mahlabathini, Nongoma and Durban.
My portrayal of King Cetshwayo, my maternal great-grandfather, was not only a privilege, but almost inevitable once the idea was conceived. Cy Endfield and Sir Stanley Baker came to see me at KwaPhindangene to request my assistance in enlisting the thousands of extras for the Zulu regiments. They had already cast Mr Hubert Sishi, an announcer from Radio Zulu, for the part of King Cetshwayo. But when Enfield saw me, he was struck by the family resemblance, and persuaded me to play the role myself.
In a later production, titled Zulu Dawn, Simon Sabela played this role, and I admired the way he captured the dignity of the King. Simon was a truly gifted artist and his premature death somehow robbed the South African film industry. It certainly robbed us, his friends.
Aside from meeting Simon, Zulu gave me the opportunity to meet Jack Hawkins and Sir Stanley Baker, who was the star and co-producer. We too enjoyed a long friendship afterwards. I also had the privilege of debuting with Sir Michael Caine. We began our acting careers together. But while he went on to fame and glory, history and birth called me to the less acclaimed path of politics.
Three years ago, more than four decades since the making of Zulu, I was contacted by the London Film Museum which was organizing an exhibition of memorabilia, photographs, storyboards and costumes. International interest in the film, and in our nation’s history, was reignited.
It is wonderful to see the pioneers, legends and veterans of South Africa’s film industry celebrated. Since my appearance on the silver screen, there have been many internationally acclaimed South African productions, and South African actors and actresses have become significant players on the world stage.
I am grateful to have been part of this story. I accept this award with real excitement for what is still to come in the South African film industry.
In memory of one of the greats, Simon “Mabhunu” Sabela, I thank you.
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The Scorer


Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 317
Location: Newport
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I like these lines:

"I also had the privilege of debuting with Sir Michael Caine. We began our acting careers together. But while he went on to fame and glory, history and birth called me to the less acclaimed path of politics."

It shows that he has a fine sense of humour, I think.

Smile
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Stephen

Many thanks for this transcript. He remains a very good speech maker. John Young, Peter Weedon and I (and perhaps others here) met him at David Rattray's memorial service at Southwark Cathedral and I'm sure one of us mentioned his acting debut while we chatted to him, which brought a chuckle.

P.
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 923
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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I think I posted this photograph before from David's memorial service, but as Peter has mentioned it here's again:


Left-Right Andrew Sheepshanks, descendant of Lord Chelmsford; HRH Prince V. A. Shange & HRH Prince M. G. Buthelezi.

John Y.
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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
Location: UK
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Congratulations also to Stephen who was too modest to mention his own award that evening.

I remember the memorial service very well. The trumpets of the RRW playing the Zulu film score made the hairs stand up. The Prince was full of charm and dignity and graciously allowed Peter and I to be photographed with him (thanks to John for taking the picture). He may not be a film star but he still has star quality.

Peter
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Congratulations, Stephen! Just read the report in The Witness.

P
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KZN Film Commission holds inaugural Simon Sabela awards
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