My father was still a bachelor and one of an estimated 120,000 South Africans who saw the production of King Kong that opened at Wits University’s Great Hall in Johannesburg in 1959, then toured to Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth for a total of eight months. It moved to London’s West End in 1961 for 200 performances. He saw Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, among others, launched into international stardom as the 70-strong cast performed the story of the rise and fall of heavyweight boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini, known as King Kong in the ring. In her book King Kong – A Venture in the Theatre (Norman Howell, Cape Town, 1960), Mona Glasser — later De Beer— quotes Margot Bryant, the publicity agent for the first all-black SA musical, who wrote: "He was a bully and a braggart, and was recognised as such in the townships. Yet they cheered him. He brought colour, vitality and excitement to their lives." He had left his home town of Vryheid at the age of 14, eventually ending up in ...

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