Who are Mark O'Donovan and Francois Venter?

Mark O’Donovan (left) and Francois Venter pooled their talents to conceptualise and fabricate the memorial to Mannenberg.
Mark O’Donovan (left) and Francois Venter pooled their talents to conceptualise and fabricate the memorial to Mannenberg.

Mark O'Donovan is a qualified electrical engineer and the founding director of the Odd Enjinears, an outfit that makes "music machines" - sculptures with an emphasis on motion that generates repeated sounds.

In 1996, Donovan met Geert Jonkers, a Dutch percussionist with a strong interest in inventing musical gadgets and the two have collaborated on many projects. The core group puts together other teams of co-workers depending on the requirements of its various projects. This ensures constant evolution and opportunities for workshops and training.

For the Mannenberg memorial, O'Donovan collaborated with performance artist Francois Venter. After graduating from Wits School of Dramatic art with a BA (Dramatic Art) in 1994, Venter worked as South African co-ordinator on the 1994 Dogtroep workshop for the Arts Alive festival.

He was a founder member of Klap Public Performance Company in 1995, and was involved in various performance projects in Newtown, the Market Theatre and in downtown Joburg. He also worked as company/stage manager for Junction Avenue Theatre Company, and attended a two-week theatre workshop in Berlin.

In 1996 he worked with street theatre outfit Jungle Performance. In 1997, he was involved in founding the Performance Initiative, and worked on a four-week master class with nine South African artists and Dogtroep in Oudtshoorn. The result of the master class was the creation of the show, Sweet Pham-Pham, which the South African team took on a national tour as the A1 theatre company.

In recent years, Venter has taught at Wits School of Dramatic Art and the Market Theatre Laboratory, and obtained his Master's degree in Performance Studies at Wits.

"South Africa is changing. Change is painful and disorientating at times," says Venter. "The arts play an important role in the process of understanding ourselves."


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"Mannenberg catapulted musicians' minds into what was really happening."
Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
Picture: © Sunday Times


Interviews as historical sources

In this lesson plan, students are asked to think about how music enables people to express ideas and to affirm the cultural diversity of South Africa. They will be asked to reflect on the value of interviews as sources.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
Images of the men who created Mannenberg.
Artwork Photo Gallery
Check out the “sound” memorial marking the recording of Abdullah Ibrahim’s famous anthem, Mannenberg.
Audio Archive
Listen to Abdullah Ibrahim and others reminisce about what gave rise to their famous tune.
A 360º view of the memorial on Bloem Street, Cape Town.
Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee 1
Part 1: Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee explains why they named the song after a Cape Town township, and how it became an anthem of the struggle against apartheid
Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee 2
Part 2 of a 1998 SABC3 documentary on Basil “Manenberg” Coetzee
Curious to see and hear the Mannenberg memorial?
SABC2’s Curious Culture magazine programme goes to Cape Town to report on the Mannenberg memorial
Launching the Mannenberg Memorial
SABC2’s Weekend Live programme reports on the launch of the memorial to Mannenberg