Newham-born actor to star on London stage in show about Nelson Mandela
- Credit: Silvia Lelli
A Newham-born actor, largely raised in South Africa, is to return to his London roots for an show about the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri will appear in the upcoming UK tour of Mandela Trilogy, debuting at Royal Festival Hall on August 31.
The show follows three key stages of Mandela’s life: his early years; his jazz-fuelled days in Sophiatown, and his incarceration on Robben Island before he was eventually freed.
According to the 24-year-old, the “amazing” show is as educational as it is enjoyable.
“Nelson Mandela wasn’t in prison for 27 years, most of that was under house arrest,” Yamikani explained.
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“What people also do not know is that he was a royal [of the Thembu tribe] too. He ran away from that.”
At this point, he casually drops in that he met with the late and great man himself on more than one occasion.
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“A lot of his grandchildren went to my school [Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg] so he would come and watch them perform.
“He had this very strong presence and energy that no-one could match. He was almost omnipotent.”
Yamikani said he was feeling “excited” about bringing the show to London, where he still has family.
His mum and dad eloped to the UK before he was born and Yamikani spent his first few years in Newham before moving to Zimbabwe and then South Africa.
The young actor and singer graduated in 2013 with a drama degree and has been “on the scene” for two and a half years.
He has performed in Shrek the Musical and various other musicals and theatres but would be open to doing TV in the future.
“I always thought I was never going to be able to dance but my choreographer knows how to transform people into machines on a stage,” he joked.
For now the young performer wants “to get this theatre bug out of my system”.
“The show itself is fun. It is high energy with a lot of dance,” he said.
“My favourite part is the cast. I have been here since 2014. They have taken me in and made me feel part of the family.
To buy tickets, visit southbankcentre.co.uk