The Rivonia Trial


Monde Wani

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The Rivonia Trial is a one-man play exploring the trial of Nelson Mandela on sabotage charges in 1964.

The Rivonia Trial begins in 1994 when Nelson Mandela becomes President of South Africa. The story of his trial, and that of his co-defendants, is told as an extended flashback with Wani playing all of the characters from Mandela to apartheid leader Verwoerd to an old man who has lost his house during forced removals and to a woman on a protest march in Pretoria against the notorious pass laws.

It is filled with humor, singing and powerful story-telling.

Monde Wani is the director of Kula Productions, which aims to educate people about South African’s freedom struggle through theater. He is an experienced actor and storyteller who has created productions that have toured the world. The Rivonia Trial has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and throughout South Africa. In 2009 Wani performed the play in front of Nelson Mandela and the other surviving Rivonia defendants which was “a performance of a lifetime” as described by Wani.

Monde Wani is a South African Struggle Artist. This type of artist uses his/her art for political protest in South Africa. Specifically, Mr. Wani used theatre to educate and rally support to defeat apartheid. The processes that Struggle Artists use to create their work is unique to their nationality and the political oppression that they face. The creation of Rivonia Trial came from this unique process. His work in this way is culturally unique.

Mode Wani used help of eye-witnesses to create Rivonia Trial. Mr. Wani interviewed virtually all the key participants in the trial and he used their accounts to create the play. Further, as he performed the play across South Africa, Mr. Wani received continuing feedback from eye-witnesses and therefore he adjust-ed and revised the performance to represent the truth with power. This is additional evidence of a Struggle Artist’s culturally unique approach to theatre-making.

Monde Wani performed Rivonia Trial for Nelson Mandela. A significant point of evidence regarding the culturally unique quality of Mr. Wani’s performance is the acceptance of the performance by Nelson Mandela. As the primary figure of the trial, Mr. Mandela gave Monde Wani positive feedback on the performance. This is a major component to the creation of a performance like Rivonia Trial because Struggle Artists use the biographic true-life events to educate and entertain audiences.

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