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Zimbabwean girl celebrates continent in SA

by Ngqwele Dube
05 Jun 2016 at 10:17hrs | Views
SPENDING her teen years in her home country and living her adult life in another enabled Nonhlanhla Matshazi to embrace a Pan-African embodiment that later gave birth to a multi-disciplinary arts festival celebrating African creativity. Matshazi was born in Zambia, moved to Zimbabwe aged nine, when colonial rule ended before heading to South Africa as a young adult at 21.

Her experiences with different cultures on the continent and her passion for the arts saw her come up with the Sanaa Africa Festival to celebrate the continent in her adopted home country, South Africa.

In an interview at the close of the fifth edition of the Sanaa Festival held at St Stithians College in Sandton, Matshazi said she was born of Zimbabwean parents in Livingstone, Zambia in 1971 and they moved back to Zimbabwe when the country attained independence in 1980 and moved to South Africa in 1992 when her father, Prof Misheck Matshazi was offered a job at Fort Hare University.

"When I came up with the idea of the Sanaa, I believe I was influenced by my multicultural background that saw me interact with a diverse range of people and live amongst different cultures. However, I felt the impact of apartheid in South Africa had left a huge chasm between them and other Africans, which didn't reflect a shared history, shared culture that exists between the people of Africa," she said.

Having worked as a consultant for W K Kellogg Foundationin South Africa, Matshazi got the opportunity to travel to the United States and attend the Santa Fe Folk Art Market where she managed to learn the ropes of organising and managing a festival.

She said Prof Mandivamba Rukuni, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana and Dr Thokozile Chitepo, who at the time were with the Kellog Foundation recommended that she be given the opportunity to travel to America in 2009 and learn more about festivals.

In 2011 Sanaa was born, with a small launch that introduced the festival to the market and the following year it was a full blown festival commemorating creativity on the African continent and has been held every year coincide with Africa Day that is celebrated on 25 May, the day the Organisation of African Unity (now African Union) came into being in 1963.

"When we started the festival, it was one of the few to celebrate being an African in South Africa and our uniqueness about us is that we embraced other art forms besides music and dance. Most festivalsare about music, music and music but there is more to Africa than just music and dance there is fine art, dance, theatre, film, poetry and this year we decided to expand those platforms to a wider audience and although we didn't get that in numbers I believe we got it in people's eyes that there is more to being an African than just music and dance. Luckily we managed to get a main sponsor, the MTN SA Foundation who have been pivotal in support the festival," said the multi-lingual Matshazi who speaks Ndebele, English, Chewa, Pemba, Xhosa, Zulu, Nyanja, SeSwati and Shona.

While it was previously held at Zoo Lake, the festival moved to St Stithians as they sought to catch a bigger market. This year the festival which ran from 26 to 28 May was graced by SA-based Zimbabwean jazz musician, Mr Prince, Zimbabwean choreographer and dancer Mclntosh Jerahuni, Zimbabwean-born visual artist, Vulindlela Nyoni, visual artist, Riva-MengaMakabi from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angolan-born, Joao Ladeira.

In film there was Denise Khumalo, daughter of TV personality, Musi Khumalo, Nozizwe Jele from SA, while Mozambique's Matanayne presented a dance piece among other artists who performed at the showcase.

Matshazi who was once the Junior Mayoress of Bulawayo went to Girls College in the city before enrolling for an arts degree at the University of Zimbabwe. She later did an honours degree in English at Fort Hare before studying for a masters in African Literature at Wits University. She has her roots in Filabusi, Matabeleland South and revealed she is proud of her Ndebele background.

Source - sundaynews
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