'Naledi, an African journey', a real triumph

Posted on June 30, 2016

The UP Youth Choir's (UPYC) musical production, Naledi, an African journey, which premièred in the SA State Theatre in Pretoria on 4 June will also be one of the main acts of the 9th Choralies Festival in Vaison la Romaine, France, in August this year.  

The UPYC initially commissioned the musical production to build on its successes in Europe in 2014 where it won the Mixed Choirs Category in the Summa Cum Laude in Vienna and three gold medals at the 8th World Choir Games in Latvia.

The choir members are the youthful adjunct to a cast of older members. The choir's participation in this African musical surpassed the members' expectations. Telling the stories of their diverse heritages was an unforgettable experience for them.

Choral composer Franco Prinsloo wrote the music and story featuring all 11 of South Africa's official languages. One of the highlights of the preparation process occurred when singers from various language groups stood up spontaneously to explain the relevance of phrases or words in their own cultures.

The storyline of Naledi, an African journey is woven through recognisable African folklore to depict the challenging journey of Naledi, the morning and evening star, to reveal to the people on Earth the divine spark (truth) that was buried under a baobab tree during the Creation. Naledi simultaneously overcomes her own challenges to complete her personal journey.

The production aims to instil in our youth pride in their heritage, background, language and race, to ensure a reference point for our African heritage, and to act as a baseline for our identity as South Africans.

The learning and discovery of the stories and music set the choir and cast on a journey of exploration through one another's worlds until theatre week when the animation by Albino Creations, costumes by Be Brave Consulting, technical support by the Bliss Group and lighting design by HLD, stage management by Yvette Hanekom, and choreography and direction by Elizma Badenhorst brought everything together.

Current events in South Africa and the rest of the world make a showcase of diversity such as Naledi, an African Journey, a real triumph. 'Our recent trip to Canada showed us that we as South Africans should realise that our diversity is our biggest strength and the responses to Naledi, an African journey, confirmed that for us,' said producer Alta Maré.

It took the production team 30 months  to raise the funds to not only tell a fresh African story with newly composed music performed by the youth of Africa, but also to ensure that the entire presentation is innovative and world class in terms of technical stage production requirements. Visionary director Elizma Badenhorst brought the story and music to life through awe-inspiring choreography and stage placement.  

The production had to be postponed three times owing to a lack of funding. The production team was however determined that it would be showcased as a message needed in the world of today. It would not only show all involved in the production never to give up on a dream, but also that when you face up to your responsibilities, accept your journey and embrace who you are and those around you, success is attained. The grant by the Department of Arts and Culture that helped to get the production on stage was therefore sincerely appreciated.

After the première, Dutch Ambassador Marisa Gerards tweeted: 'Impressed with the talent of SA Young Stars in #naledimusical State Theatre,' and Ambassador Trine Skymoen of Norway responded: 'Couldn't agree more, a fantastic performance!'.

The UPYC is especially proud of its singers who, despite the exams coinciding with theatre week (31 May – 3 June), delivered an exceptional performance on 4 June. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to their families for their support.

The second performance of Naledi, an African journey at the 9th Choralies Festival in France will take place on 5 August. The UPYC will also perform as a show choir on 9 August.

The team is excited about taking the magic of African diversity to the French countryside and trusts that this cultural education exchange will enthral the audience.

Click here for photos of the performance.


Many of the UP Youth Choir members are from financially challenged families. Patrons interested in supporting the cultural exchange tour to France through sponsorship or donation or in assisting with reruns of the production, can contact UPYC manager Alta Maré on [email protected].


- Author University of Pretoria Youth Choir

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