Beginning its world tour in France and soon to arrive in Australia, this international production is interwoven with stories of the fight against apartheid and forbidden love in a troubled land. The musical pays tribute to New Zealand and the dramatic part it played in bringing an end to apartheid.

Also timed to mark 25 years since the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, Madiba the Musical features African dance and vocal traditions set alongside eternal love songs and stirring anthems in a show that tells of Mandela’s lifework as a lawyer and activist for peace through the story of young artist Will, who is the victim of apartheid in South Africa.

French writers Alicia Sebrien and Jean-Pierre Hadida said in creating Madiba the Musical, they wanted to tell the story of Mandela’s pursuit of peace and reconciliation in his homeland.

“There are no languages that are more universal than music and dancing to reconcile nations, cultures, religions and generations,” the show’s creators said.

“We want to remember Madiba; Nelson Mandela is certainly the last providential figure of the 20th century.”

Shortly after Mandela’s death in 2013, his Xhosa clan name Madiba emerged worldwide in condolences. The clan or family name represents a person’s ancestry and is used as a sign of respect and affection.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule and became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, serving one five-year term.

Director of the current French production Pierre-Yves Duchesne says he has incorporated modern stage technology in Madiba the Musical, with the animated sketchbook images of the young artist character to be projected on to the stage screen backdrop.

“Nelson Mandela’s vision of the world was truly turned towards the future, and that is why the stage direction must look towards modernity.” Duchesne said.

French reviews have praised the production’s staging and describe Madiba the Musical as “a powerful and generous work”, “the essence of a fight for humanity” and “a show that touches our hearts”.