The 18th annual Zanzibar International Film Festival got off to a star-studded start with an evening of magical and memorable entertainment. The evening played host to two South African icons, the legendary singer Dorothy Masuka and the beloved star of Sarafina, Leleti Khumalo. Masuka had the crowd enraptured with her acapella performance that included a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his birthday, Mandela Day. The day’s festivities started earlier with the official sponsor launch of the event at the DoubleTree by Hilton Conference Centre that was attended by the Second Vice President Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi as well as by, Zanzibar’s Minister for Culture, Information, Tourism and Sports Said Ali Mbarouk and the Deputy MD of Zuku, Mandy Rogers. The film Selma was followed by a entertainment with the likes of Tanzania’s own Damian Soul, as well as the spectacular Kepemchim Kirnnam group from India. Festival Director Martin Mhando officially opened ZIFF 2015 and had this to say,“Bringing Mama Masuka to Zanzibar is not only historical in that Mama Masuka returns to Zanzibar after 53 years, but also that it marks ZIFF’s maturity as it turns 18.” Sunday the 19th was no less packed with incredible events and performances. The annual ZIFF Dhow race took place with hundreds of people turning up to cheer on these traditional boats and to celebrate the craftsmanship of the local boat-builders and sailors. Winners this year were WIOMSA, the Western Ocean Marine Science Association, followed closely by ZATI, Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors. The evening programme saw the star of Sarafina, Leleti Khumalo taking the stage to introduce the film. The music programme included Dorothy Masuka who wowed her audience repertoire built up over five decades of performing. ZIFF runs through July 26th with a full range of film screenings, workshops, exhibits and musical performances. From performances by Dorothy Masuka and Moussa Diallo to the premiere of films from across the globe, ZIFF 2015 is not to be missed.


Yes, it’s her first time in ZANZIBAR ISLAND. Leleti is well known for the role she played in the film Sarafina. She’s in Zanzibar for the Zanzibar International Film festival 2015, 18th ZIFF anniversary. Sarafina tells of a story of a student in 1976, who managed to rise up against apartheid in Soweto. It also includes horrible accounts of youths being tortured by the South African police where some even disappeared and have never been heard of. Until Leleti got in to the auditions of the play, she had rarely considered the injustice of apartheid. She thought that it was normal and natural for a black person to stay poor. This film gave her much of her fame she has up till today and earned her several awards. Leleti also starred in Sarafina 2 in 1997.
In 1985 Leleti Khumalo auditioned for Mbongeni Ngema’s stage play, Sarafina! and was cast in a lead role as a title character in what would become an international sensation; it has been reported that he (Mbongeni Ngema) wrote the lead character of Sarafina especially for her (Leleti Khumalo). In June 1987 Sarafina! was presented for the very first time at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg, Transvaal Province of apartheid South Africa (today’s Gauteng province of the Republic of South Africa). On January 28, 1988 Sarafina! Premiered on Broadway at the Cort Theatre on 138 West 48th Street in the Theater District of midtown Manhattan in New York City in the United States of America, and closed on 2 July 1989, after 597 performances and 11 previews.
In 1988 she was featured in Voices of Sarafina, an American documentary film directed by Nigel Noble which chronicles the story of Sarafina! the musical; Voices of Sarafina was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. In 1992 Leleti Khumalo starred in the feature film version of Sarafina! alongside Whoopi Goldberg, John Kani and Miriam Makeba; the film was directed by Darrel Roodt.

Sarafina! had a worldwide distribution deal and, at the time, became biggest film production to be released on the African continent. It also led to Leleti Khumalo being nominated for another NAACP Image Award together with Angela Bassett, Janet Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg. She subsequently starred in other Mbongeni Ngema productions; Magic at 4 AM  (1993), Mama (1996) and Sarafina! 2 (1997).
In 1995 she appeared in the feature film “Cry, the Beloved Country” where she portrayed the character of Katie and was credited as Leleti Kumalo. In 2004 Leleti Khumalo starred as title character in a critically acclaimed Darrel Roodt film, Yesterday, which went on to earn a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the 77th Academy Awards. She also had a supporting role as Fedens on Don Cheadle fronted Hotel Rwanda. In 2005 Leleti Khumalo as Faith in yet another Darrell Roodt directed feature film, Faith’s Corner. In that same year (2005-2008) she joined the cast of Generations as Busisiwe Dlomo (Busi Dlomo), the sister of Sibusiso Dlomo (portrayed by Menzi Ngubane); at the time cast of that soap opera also included Connie Ferguson, Sophie Ndaba, Rapulana Seiphemo and Sonia Sedibe among other notable South African actors.

 SEIF KABELELE posing with LELETI KHUMALO a.k.a SARAFINA @ Africa Hotel in Zanzibar-Tanzania
 SEIF KABELELE posing with LELETI KHUMALO a.k.a SARAFINA @ Africa Hotel in Zanzibar-Tanzania

In 2009 she appeared as Mary on the Clint Eastwood directed film, Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon – the film tells the story of the role played by the late former South African president Nelson Mandela in uniting the nation during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, starred as Flo Raphoto in the SABC 2 drama series, Hopeville. In 2010 Leleti Khumalo featured as Sister Ndebele  in the film “Africa United” and in 2011 she portrayed Adelaide Tambo in the film “Winnie Mandela” starring Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela and Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela. In 2011 she starred as Grace in the eleventh (11th) season of the long running SABC 1 drama series, Soul City, alongside Siyanda Sesimani, Harriet Manamela, Patrick Mofokeng, Dumisani Mbebe, Fana Mokoena and Samkelo Ndlovu. In 2014 Leleti Khumalo was the subject on an episode of a Nicky Greenwall hosted’s The Close Up.
In 2015 she was cast in a lead role as Zandile Mdletshe on an SABC 1 original telenovela, Uzalo, which is written by famed playwright Duma Ka Ndlovu who is best known for creating the SABC 2 acclaimed soap opera Muvhango and produced by Gugu Zuma-Ncube who is the daughter of the incumbent South African president Jacob Zuma.


Hot on the heels of the announcement that legendary South African singer Dorothy Masuka will be one of the headlining acts for the ZIFF 2015 music series, ZIFF is pleased to announce a range of additional artists to the eight-night music line-up. The line-up includes artists from across Africa and from afar afield as India, Mexico, the USA and Denmark, as well as some of Tanzania’s hottest acts. Home-grown favourites from Tanzania Mainland Vanessa Mdee, Christian Bella, Ya Moto Band and Weusi and Baby J, Smile, and Sultan King from Zanzibar are just some of the acts set to perform from July 18th – 26th at the Mambo Club at The Old Fort, Stone Town. Other acts include, from the USA, Antique, the amazing singer-songwriter who was commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to write a song for their Women in African History curriculum. Virtuoso, progressive, flamenco guitar player Paco Renteria is an inceredible addition to the ZIFF line-up. By the time he was 22, Renteria was performing with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Guadalajara. Since then, he has composed over 300 pieces, and performed with the likes of Carlos Santana and Luciano Pavarotti. His music has appeared in films such as Desperado and Legend of Zorro. ZIFF is also very honoured to be hosting bass player, singer, composer and story-teller Moussa Diallo. This mutli-talented African musican, currently is based in Denmark and has in recent years released a number of albums, but also worked very much with children, especially in Africa. Not only will he be performing at ZIFF, but a film about him, Moussa Diallo: The Man and His Music, will also be screened during the festival. On July 19th Dorothy Masuka will perform at the Old Fort, and music enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets early to avoid disappointment. While in Zanzibar she will rehearse and perform with the THT band, many of whose members were not even born during Mama Dorothy Masuka’s heyday! A range of other artists are also confirmed and more artists will be announced soon. For a full schedule and ticketing information visit the ZIFF website, Tickets for the music concerts well as all other ZIFF events can be purchased via ZIFF’s online ticketing platform: To keep up to date with all the latest news from ZIFF visit, or follow us on twitter @ZIFF_2015


ZIFF 2015 is honoured to announce that veteran South African singer Dorothy Masuka will be one of the headlining acts for the music series hosted nightly at the Mambo Club. Masuka, who irked white supremacists in South Africa during the Apartheid era, has a long history with Tanzania. Born in Zimbabwe, at 19 she moved to South Africa as a jazz singer. Her controversial songs including “Dr Malan” and “Patrice Lumumba” led her into exile in 1961. In Tanzania she joined forces with another South African, singer Miriam Makeba, with whom she toured Tanzania (then Tanganyika) galvanizing audiences towards the liberation struggle. In 1963 during the Kenya independence celebrations they sang the evergreen ode to Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta called “Pole Mzee”. Together they left Africa for exile travelling as Tanzanians just like Mandela did during the liberation struggle. “What an honour it is for her to come to ZIFF. It just shows how much she values the role of the arts in society”, lauded Professor Martin Mhando, ZIFF Festival Director. “We would love for her to meet with President Shein of Zanzibar as the President is an ardent lover of the arts and is known to admire veteran artists like the Zanzibar icon Bibi Siti bint Saad.” Mhando went on to explain. At ZIFF she is expected to meet with government leaders including the Second Vice President of Zanzibar and will be a guest at both the Launch and Opening ceremonies of ZIFF on 18th July.On July 19th Dorothy Masuka will perform at the Old Fort, and music enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets early to avoid disappointment. While in Zanzibar she will rehearse and perform with the THT band, many of whose members were not even born during Mama Dorothy Masuka’s heyday! Masuka is expected to also visit Dar es Salaam where plans are underway to enable her to meet with Mama Maria Nyerere who is well known to her from her liberation struggle days. Music impresario Ruge Mutahaba of Clouds Media is currently looking at the possibility of organizing a performance for the government and society leaders in Dar es Salaam. Tickets for Dorothy Masuka’s performance on July 19th, as well as all other ZIFF events can be purchased via ZIFF’s online ticketing platform: To keep up to date with all the latest news from ZIFF visit, or follow us on twitter @ZIFF2015 ABOUT ZIFF >>>> The Zanzibar International Film Festival is the longest running film-festival in East Africa, with global credibility and instant Pan-African recognition. ZIFF is sponsored by ZUKU through a 10 year contract that runs through 2021.The ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries is organized by ZIFF, a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in 1998 in Zanzibar to promote and showcase the culture of the Dhow Countries. Every cent raised from sponsors and donors ensures the widest possible accessibility of high- quality international screenings and cultural events to all sections of the Tanzanian population. The ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries is a catalyst for the promotion and development of the region’s cultural industries. It encourages and supports the development of artistic skills and the infrastructure necessary for a vibrant and innovative arts environment. The festival programme gives particular prominence to the visibility and interests of women and children, including the youth.The main panorama features international film and video screenings, and international retrospectives along with music and performances, main stage events, exhibitions, workshops and seminars.