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Mshengu Publications is a publishing platform for publications by Robert Mshengu Kavanagh and others which do not fit  the publishing  criteria of Themba Books.

Mshengu Publications paperbacks are available from online [selected titles in Kindle] and at the following bookshops:

Baxter Theatre, Rondebosch, Cape Town

Clarke's Bookshop, CBD, Capetown

Protea Bookshop, Stellenbosch

Van Schaik Bookstore - branches to be announced


SELECTED  PLAYS I: The Theatre of Workshop '71 - ed. Robert Mshengu Kavanagh 

The plays featured in this volume of Selected Plays were produced by the well-known and influential theatre organisation, Experimental Theatre Workshop ’71. Founded in 1971 in Johannesburg, Workshop ’71 pioneered unsegregated theatre and played an important role in the development of the theatre of the dispossessed majority. All three plays, Crossroads, uHlanga – the Reed and Survival, received enthusiastic reviews when they opened at unsegregated venues in the apartheid South Africa of the 1970s. All three plays were devised through a process of research, acting exercises, improvisations and discussion involving the director, Kavanagh, and the actors. Each playscript is prefaced with an account of how the play was made and suggestions as to how it could be performed.

See reviews of plays selected.

EVESDROP: The Tales of Adam Kok - Robert Mshengu Kavanagh

Adam Kok is a fictional character. A Griqua, descended from an all too intimate follower of the legendary Griqua chief, Adam Kok. His ancient forebear handed down the line his own taste for other men’s wives, including the chief’s, and the chief’s modern namesake followed dedicatedly in his forebear’s footsteps. Having participated in the armed struggle against the apartheid regime, Adam Kok came to live in Zimbabwe, where he married the beautiful and upright, Rudo. Although he died a few years back, Adam used his job as a popular human interest journalist for a Harare newspaper to good effect.

Adam was a great lover of women, a latter day Don Juan or Giacomo Casanova, an Africanist, a staunch Griqua patriot, an Epicurean when it came to Scots whisky and a frequenter of drinking holes, a man whose iconoclastic effusions were a cocktail of the truth people do not like to hear, and pure evil. A photographic negative, whose whiteness forced one to think of black and whose blackness made one think of white – an immoral scoundrel. 



Jan Symons, Head Girl at an exclusive private school in South Africa, meets three young men, Bruce Ferguson, James Donahue and Morris Galliers, at the School Dance, who become important in her life. Ferguson is killed while still at school but continues to impact on her life. 

As a loved but rather scandalous teacher she becomes best friends with Francis, another teacher, who is shocked by the stories Jan tells her about what goes on at exclusive boarding schools, including the death of Ferguson. She persuades her to write it up as a thesis.

Jan’s thesis, which she converts into a book, explores the nature of elite white private education and the institution of boarding schools in apartheid South Africa and the potential  impact the system might have in the ‘New’ South Africa and spells out the effects on boys and girls, men and women who go to such schools – as well as to their parents, mothers in particular. In the process the events taking place in the country, beginning with the 1976 Soweto Uprising, and her encounters with the Black Consciousness Movement and the mass democratic movement induce in her a political awakening.

Jan’s life, her loves and friendships and in particular her struggle to write and eventually publish her book in the teeth of opposition from the academic and social establishment become for her a journey through the life, feelings and experiences of little boys in preparatory boarding schools, bigger boys in prestigious colleges, young men in university residences  and then the effects these experiences have on them and their families in their adult lives.    

SELECTED PLAYS II:  The Political Theatre of Zambuko/Izibuko - ed. Robert Mshengu Kavanagh

The Selected Plays series features theatre work in which Robert Mshengu Kavanagh played a leading role, as playmaker, director or actor. The first in the series featured the work of Workshop ’71 in South Africa in the 1970s. This, the second volume, featured the political theatre of the socialist Frontline theatre group, Zambuko/Izibuko in the 1980s and early 90s in Zimbabwe, a the period that followed the coming of independence to Zimbabwe and the intensification in South Africa and the Southern African region of the struggle against apartheid. It was a highly ideological and militant phase in the region’s history. The plays of Zambuko/Izibuko, a theatre group whose membership included cultural activists from various walks of life, based at the University of Zimbabwe, were all deeply political and committed to the struggle for social justice.