King Kong: The First South African Musical


Tyler Fleming, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Louisville, spoke about “King Kong: The First South African Musical” in our Far Away Places series and as part of the Year of South African celebration on Thursday, September 24 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Bowling Green, KY.

Based on the life of an African boxer (and not the overgrown gorilla from American cinema) King Kong featured an African composer and all-Black cast, including many local musicians and singers who would later become internationally famous like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masakela along with Manhattan Brothers’ Nathan “Dambuzza” Mdedle who played the role of Ezekiel “King Kong” Diemani.

Following its debut in 1959 it became South Africa’s first blockbuster theatrical success and the touring production was seen by more than 200,000 people. In 1961 it moved to London for a two year run.


African History | African Studies | Ethnomusicology | International and Intercultural Communication | Social and Cultural Anthropology