Sizwe Bansi is Dead:

on politics, performance and identity


  • Marthinus Johannes Havenga Stellenbosch University



apartheid and its legacy, Hans Urs von Balthasar, South African protest theatre, identity, theology and theatre


This essay examines the relationship between politics, performance, and identity by entering into dialogue with the play Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona. First staged in 1972, the play delves into questions of identity within apartheid South Africa, telling the story of Sizwe Banzi, a migrant worker who must adopt a new identity to secure a work permit in Port Elizabeth. After tracing the play’s origins, the essay provides a detailed analysis of its plot. This is followed by a brief theological exploration of the play, considering its enduring relevance in contemporary identity discussions, both in South Africa and globally.