Cape Town’s most famous son Taliep Petersen, the widely acclaimed performer was honoured with a posthumous “Lifetime Achievement” award at the recent Naledi Awards, which is a premier award on the calendar of Gauteng awards. The award comes ten years after Petersen’s untimely death, which has left a void in the local theatre industry. The award was handed to Petersen’s eldest and youngest daughters, Natasha and Fatima.
“This is a very emotional time, because these ten years have passed-by so quickly and to have this type of gesture is so important, since we feared that his memory will only tainted with the manner in which he died,” Petersen’s second eldest daughter Jawaahier told VOC.
In the 1980s, Petersen formed a band, called Sapphyre that played interpretations of traditional Cape Malay songs. In 1986 he and David Kramer collaborated on the first of a number of musicals together, District Six: The Musical, exploring the culture and history of the Coloured community in Cape Town. This was followed by Poison, Fairyland, Crooners, Kat and the Kings, Klop Klop and Spice Drum Beat: Ghoema.
A number of these toured internationally; Kat and the Kings had runs in Las Vegas, New York’s Broadway and in London’s West End. Ghoema had opened in London’s Tricycle Theatre shortly before Petersen’s death. In 1999, he and Kramer won the Best New Musical Olivier Award for Kat and the Kings, with the cast sharing the Best Actor in a Musical award.
Jawaahier says the posthumous Naledi award acts as evidence that her father is remembered for the contribution he has made to the arts and the country.
“Having children myself, I am extremely proud of the legacy that I have inherited from my father, so I am acutely aware that my children should know about his accomplishments.”
Community members continue to stop her on the streets and share their admiration and memories of her father’s life.
She says current performers, such as Lukmaan and Emo Adams, who previously worked in the shadows of Taliep Petersen, continue to reference their appreciation for the impact that he has had on their lives as performers.
“The theatre constantly makes reference to him and this makes the younger generation and those who do not actively know of him, aware who Taliep Petersen is – his legacy will continue,” Jawaahier concluded.
Petersen was shot dead at his home on 16 December 2006.