Siyabonga hits the big screen in Switzerland

Midlands actor in breakthrough role

By Nikki Brighton

When Siyabonga Majola was growing up in Mpophomeni he never imagined he’d be a movie star.

In Grade 10 he put on a sketch of “township comedy” to entertain school mates. The feedback was positive and soon Siya had decided that he wanted to pursue acting as a career.

With Mpophomeni Youth Productions and Izwi, his passion for acting grew and he decided to devote himself to developing plays and becoming the best actor that he could.

Fellow performer, Lindokuhle Mshengu remembers those days. “You could see that acting gave Siya life. He became a different person on stage, excelling in every role he was given. I am sure that if we were in a place where there were vast opportunities, he would have appeared on our home screens by now.”

On August 1 the prestigious Locarno Film Festival opens in Switzerland. Siya will be there on the red carpet to watch the world premiere of the movie he stars in – Siyabonga.

This extraordinary turn of events is entirely due to Siya’s determination and dedication. When he read in The Meander Chronicle that a young filmmaker, Joshua Magor, was planning to make a movie in the Midlands, he contacted him and they hit it off immediately. Siya made such an impression, that Joshua scrapped his original ideas for a screenplay and set out to make a film about Siya instead.

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“What impressed me about Siya was that he seemed totally unafraid to pursue the things he wanted. He just decides, ‘this is what I want’ and then works towards getting it,” said the filmmaker.

Joshua Magor

The film is based on real events, re-enacted by those who lived through them. Shot on location in Mpophomeni, Howick and Pietermaritzburg, with many of Siya’s neighbours and friends (in particular, Sabelo Khoza and Ntokozo Mkhize) participating, this film is certain to delight local audiences, and we hope enchant the judges at the Locarno Film Festival too.

In front of the camera

Siya is astonished at how things have turned out. “I honestly never thought for one moment that I would ever act in front of the camera, let alone on a proper film.”

Armed with his brand new passport, Siya boards a plane bound for Switzerland soon. “I am most looking forward to seeing the movie”, he smiles. “I can’t wait to see the movie.”

Would you like to contribute a little spending money to make this an unforgettable trip? Let Siya know if you would – contact mohhamedmajola@gmail.com