SA movies -1965 OST ‘Dingaka’ by Bertha Egnos

May 31, 2010

good day to all! Over the last  week or so the  attention over here has been focused mainly on musicals and soundtracks from our favorite 50′s & 60′s South African movies.  Served here today are some highlights, a few unusual works of Bertha Egnos, one of South Africa’s most underrated and forgotten composers.

A remarkable talent that produced one of  South Africa’s most succesful musicals ever and many scores for movie soundtracks, plays and pop music that crossed over to the hit parade. But how well remembered is Bertha Egnos??

A Google search for a picture of the lady did not turn up anything! Not even some documentation on her long career in movies and musicals was found although Bertha Egnos was quite famous back in the 60′s and 70′s.  I believe the time has come to reconstruct a few bits and forgotten parts of her long career. Here’ s part one…

In a previous post‘An African Lullaby (tula baba)’ from 1963 by Eva Madison and the Bertha Gray Singers was highlighted. It is a traditional South African folk song that mothers sang to put their babies to sleep. It was re-written and adapted for the soundtrack of the movie  ‘Dingaka’ by Bertha Egnos who was making a name for herself earlier with musicals like ‘Bo Jungle‘ in 1959 and who would later become responsible for the musical ‘Ipi Tombi’.

In 1972, Bertha Egnos and her daughter, lyricist Gail Lakier, produced ‘Ipi Ntombi’ and ‘Mama Tembu’s Wedding’ as the two African songs for Eartha Kitt’s tour of  South Africa. Although the numbers were rejected by Kitt for being “too upbeat and rhythmic”, Egnos and Lakier were undeterred. They added another eight songs and released an album called ‘The Warrior’  in 1973. Later versions became known as ‘Ipi Ntombi’, or even more simplified as ‘Ipi Tombi’.
Sure, from a critical point of view,  these  shows sentimentalized and celebrated the life of the rural ‘native’. This form of theatre in South Africa confirmed white attitudes and prejudices and is blatantly paternalistic in the long colonial tradition. But nevertheless, ‘Ipi Ntombi’ showed the world South African Zulu tribal culture at its best and popularized this at a time when Apartheid still ruled the Union.

OST Dingaka -Cheeni Cheeni

The musical sequences featured on the soundtrack of ‘Dingaka’ were personally selected and edited by South Africa’s star actor-director-producer Jamie Uys.  The soundtrack was written by  Bertha Egnos, Eddie Domingo and Basil Gray. From a musical point of view, this soundtrack recording is without a doubt one of the most valuable contributions ever made to the ever-growing library of authentic African music. The songs reflect the colour, the driving rhythm, the vast panorama of sound and music which add up to what novelist Stuart Cloete once described as being ‘the song of Africa….the song no white man will ever sing’.

OST Dingaka Lullaby -Tula Baba

Dingaka tells the story of a tribesman, Ntuku Makwena, who avenges the murder of his daughter according to custom tribal laws. His act of revenge leads him to be tried under government laws, where justice for black people does not exist. The film stars Ken Gampu, Stanley Baker, Juliet Prowse and Bob Courtney.

excerpts from the original liner notes of ‘Dingaka’ Gallotone GALP 1385 released in 1965

the original soundtrack of ‘Dingaka’ can be found here


Cast “Dingaka” 1965

Stanley Baker -Tom Davis

Willem Botha-Court Clerk

 Bob Courtney-Prison Chaplain

 Ken Gampu-Ntuku Makwena

 Gordon Hood-Prosecutor

Alfred Jabulani-Mpudi

Paul Makgob-Masaba

Daniel Marolen-Priest

Sophie Mgcina-Choir Soloist

George Moore-Legal Aid Society Secretary

 Flora Motaung-Rurari

 Siegfried Mynhardt-Judge

 Hugh Rouse-Bantu Commissioner

 Jimmy Sabe-Leadsinger

 John Sithebe-Witch Doctor

 Simon Swindell-Doctor

 Thandi -Letsea

 Clement Mehlomakulu Tlhotlhhalemji-Priest

 Fusi Zazayokwe-Stick fighter


Jamie Uys


Jamie Uys


Jamie Uys

Original Music

Eddie Domingo

Bertha Egnos

Basil Gray

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  1. [...] one of South Africa’s grand old ladies of movies and musicals. See also my previous post OST Dingaka 1965 for more music and info on her [...]

  2. I’ve been looking for the soundtrack for Dingaka for over 30 years, since I left my mother’s house! She had a copy of it.
    I managed to see the film in the 1990s at the 7 Arts theatre in Norwood.
    What a wonderful trip down memory lane!
    I woke up this morning singing “when the roll is called up yonder,” so I thought I’d google Dingaka and found your fabulous entry. Thanks so much.

  3. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

  4. Assisti a este filme lá pelos idos de 1978. Nunca mais o vi. Mas, uma música nunca me saiu da mente. Na época não sabia o nome, mas era algo como shosholota, hoje sei que é shosholoza, e é muito famosa. Até hoje procuro o mesmo arranjo que ví no filme, desta mesma música e não vi versão melhor, nem com o Lady Smith&Black Manbazo. No filme ficou estampado em minha mente e nunca consegui esquecer a harmonia do estilo capela, que por aqui na época era totalmente desconhecido.
    Parabéns pelo seu blog.

  5. Será que existe a trilha em CD ou DVD?

  6. Does anyone know where I can get a copy of a video of the original concert with the original cast? I know that it was showed on South African Television in the 1970′s.

  7. I am the granddaughter of the late Eddie Domingo. I have grownup with stories of my grandfathers contribution to South African music and plays in the 50′s and 60′s. My late father Eddie Domingo Jnr. would have been so proud to see his dads name mentioned on this site. Should anybody have more information on my Grandfathers work please contact me via the above email address.

    • dear Meaghan Domingo, always a pleasure to read comments like yours. It means that the information on our pages is worthy and useful. Hopefully you will get more info on your Grandfathers work. Best regards, Eddy@SoulSafari

  8. i want to buy dvd Dingaka. i saw the film in 1974 and found it thrilling

    • Great movie but indeed tough one to find on DVD.

  9. Pois é… já se passaram dois anos do meu último post e ainda não consegui o filme, nem as músicas. Uma pena, realmente.

    • the soundtrack of Dingaka can be bought here . Not that difficult to find I believe.

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