(Pic: Joekels) (Pic: Joekels) Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday, or go to the Fin24 front page. South Africa’s rooibos tea industry paid R12.2 million to groups representing indigenous people in the country, part of a benefit-sharing agreement to recognize the original cultivators of the plant. A levy of 1.5% of the farm gate price of the herbal tea will be paid into a trust each year controlled by the Khoi and San people, the South African Rooibos Council (SARC) said in a statement. The funds will be used to improve the lives of those communities. The move – the result of a lengthy discussions going back to an agreement in 2019 – is the latest example of South African industries and companies acknowledging the rights and contributions of people who lived in the country before Dutch settlers started to arrive in the 17th century. The Khoi and San people have also been protesting against the planned new Africa headquarters of US e-commerce giant Amazon.com in Cape Town, which they say is being built on sacred ground. South Africa’s High Court temporarily halted construction in March pending further engagement with the communities. Rooibos is farmed mainly in an area between 200 kilometers and 300 kilometers north of Cape Town and thought to have health and beauty benefits. It is exported to 30 countries and provides employment and income to 5 000 people in South Africa, according to the SARC. In 2014, Rooibos tea was granted geographical indication status in the EU, which gave manufacturers in South Africa full ownership of the name.

The South African State Theatre in association with the SelloMaake kaNcube Foundation is showcasing the stage play Bloke and His American Bantu. Anele Nene plays the role of Bloke Modisane.

African State Theatre in association with the Sello Maake kaNcube Foundation is showcasing the stage play Bloke and His American Bantu. Anele Nene plays the role of Bloke Modisane. Supplied/Tebogo Gama

The South They may have been the Fabulous Fifties – or the ‘Nifty Fifties’ – for some, a time when the world was coming out of the second world war and experiencing massive cultural and social change.

But in Black America it was the time of the Civil Rights Movement and on the African continent, it was a time for struggle against colonisation and apartheid.

It was during this period that William “Bloke” Modisane joined Drum magazine as a journalist.

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He grew up in Sophiatown, a multiracial suburb in Johannesburg and became one of “the Drum Boys” in the 1950s, along with Henry Nxumalo, Can Themba, Es’kia Mphahlele and Lewis Nkosi.

Bloke and His American Bantu, which runs till 24 July 2022 at the South African State Theatre, relives the camaraderie that developed between Bloke Modisane and Langston Hughes.

The two-hander explores a simple friendship that led to international solidarity and cultural exchange between South Africa and Black America. The two writers are believed to have exchanged well over 50 letters.

The character of Bloke Modisane is channelled by rising star Anele Nene, who hails from Durban.

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Anele Nene portrays Bloke Modisane in the play.

Here are five fun facts to know about the young actor and the play written by Dr Siphiwo Mahala and directed by Sello Maake kaNcube.

1. Bloke And His American Bantu is set in the 1960s, when Modisane was exiled in London, and Hughes through his contacts in the US, organised a lecture series for him in various states across the US. This play traces the intellectual discourse that transpired between the two.

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2. The 25-year-old Anele, who hails from Durban, studied Performing Arts and Production.

3. The young thespian won the Ovation Award at the 2020 National Arts Festival for his one man show ‘The Hymns of a Sparrow’.

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Josias Dos Moleele and Anele Nene in the two-hander Bloke and His American Bantu.

4. Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901– May 22, 1967), the poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri, is portrayed by Josias Dos Moleele.

5. Moleele has appeared in two international movies – ‘Invictus’ directed by Clint Eastwood and a BBC television series ‘Strike Back’.

Modisane, who was also the jazz critic at Drum’s sister publication, the weekly tabloid Golden City Post, later found an outlet in acting. Becoming frustrated by the political situation and oppression under the apartheid regime, Modisane moved in 1959 to England, where in 1963 his autobiography, Blame Me on History, was published.

Bloke And His American Bantu will run till 24 July 2022 with performances from Tuesdays to Sundays weekly. Tickets are R130 on Webtickets.