SAN FRANCISCO — Five members of a black South African dance troupe who have repeatedly decried their government's racial policies during six years of performances in the United States are requesting political asylum, their attorney said today.
The performers, who are facing deportation proceedings, are members of the Uzulu Dance Theatre. They planned to tell an immigration judge at a hearing later today that they will face persecution if sent home, attorney Bill May said.
Most of the members of the dance group arrived in the United States in 1980 under an H-1 entertainers visa as part of the Ipi Ltombi dance group. Members say the group was well-received in an initial series of performances in Nevada but met with pickets in Texas who protested the use of the Zulu language during the show. Ipi Ltombi went broke and disbanded.
Some members returned to South Africa but others remained in the United States and began the Uzulu Dance Theatre. The Uzulu group moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1982 and has been performing ever since.
May said the performers have been in the country illegally since the Ipi Ltombi group collapsed because their visa was tied to that tour.