Mzansi Cymr: Torchbearers


I was asked my by the photographer Glenn Edwards who comes
into the pub I work in if I would do an illustration for
a project he was involved in. This is what I did.

In 1964 the film Zulu was filmed in South Africa telling the story of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift between the Zulu Warriors and the Welsh Guards of the British Army in 1879. The lead actors included our very own Stanley Baker from Ferndale and Michael Caine.

1964 was also the year when anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was sent to Robben Island to begin his 27 years of imprisonment. South Africa suffered 46 years of apartheid where black and white people were completely segregated and forbidden to mix socially.

Our story of the ‘Torchbearers’ begins on the set of the film Zulu where a Welsh actor called Gerwin and a Zulu actress called Thembesile fall in love and begin their short lived romance. Under apartheid their relationship is considered illegal and indeed they are caught by Officials who deport Gerwin, sending him broken hearted back to Wales, and send a young and frightened Thembesile to prison.

Years go by but neither time nor distance break their love. Too afraid to get each other into trouble, both Gerwin and Thembesile write letters which are never sent. Unbeknown to Gerwin, Thembesile has his child, who is named Sofiso which means hope.

True to his name, but unaware to himself, Sofiso offers an opportunity which may bring Gerwin and Thembesile closer together. But is this opportunity taken? Will they listen? Will they believe?

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