In 1970 the South African playwright Welcome Msomi (1943-2020) wrote the play “uMabatha”, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth but set in the kingdom of Zululand in the early 19th century. It detailed how Mabatha (= Macbeth) overthrows Dangane (= King Duncan). Msomi wrote it when he was still a student at the University of Natal.
There are parallels with how the Zulu king Shaka was overthrown and murdered by his half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana, and Mbopa, an iNduna (headman) in 1828. Nelson Mandela pointed that out to Msomi after watching the play in Johannesburg in 1995. Msomi’s most famous work, uMabatha has been performed in Africa, Europe and America. The photos on this page are of an open-air performance on the showgrounds in Nhlangano, Eswatini, in 1975 against a backdrop of the bus in which the performers arrived.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is set in Scotland in the early 11th century, when King Duncan is murdered by his trusted captain Macbeth. However, the historical Duncan, on which Shakespeare based his play, was not murdered but died in battle, and Macbeth took the crown after a civil war.