South African Women’s Art Festival’s multi-talented women artists

The 23rd South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF) gets under way today and Durbanites are spoilt for choice from drama to music, dance and crafts.  

The festival runs until Saturday, August 10 and celebrates works performed, created and inspired by women. 

One of the notable shows to catch is the Traditional Extravaganza Concert that takes place on August 9 at 7pm at the Playhouse.  

Directed by award-winning Clare Mortimer, the concert will highlight talents of singer-actress and musician Tu Nokwe, internationally renowned and award-winning African "Queen of Ndebele" music, Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane, maskandi groups Vumile Mngoma and Izingane Zoma, and actress, musician and motivational speaker Dawn Thandeka King. 

Nokwe is as renowned for her music as for her acting. Her work includes performing in Sheila’s Day and Singing the Times. She is also remembered as Shaka’s wife in Bill Faure’s globally acclaimed, landmark South African mini-series, Shaka Zulu.

Having been in the arts and entertainment industry since she was six, she said she was grateful to be given the opportunity to perform at such a reputable event that celebrated women. 

“It’s my first time at the festival and I am so excited to be here. I last performed at the playhouse in my 20s and that was with my mother and sister. I have a great set lined up with a variety of songs, most of which is original,” said Nokwe. 

Nokwe, who has four albums to her name, said she enjoyed delivering messages through her music.

“Besides the fact that I enjoy what I do, there is also a responsibility for me to impart messages through my work. I feel that that is the purpose of my life. I could be doing a set and then a message will push through from my heart, and then I would have to highlight it,” said Nokwe. 

She said she felt that performing at Traditional Extravaganza Concert was divine intervention because she had not performed solo songs and storytelling in many years. 

“When the playhouse asked me to perform solo song and storytelling I was a bit nervous. I’ve become so used to performing with a band or back up singers. I thought about it and then realised that maybe the universe is sending me back to where my career first began, because we sometimes forget where we come from,” she said.     

Other artists include: 

Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane, an expert in Ndebele music and skilled on a number of traditional instruments, started composing in the late 1970s. 

In 1980 she formed a group called Nothembi Nezelamani Zakonomazyana which entertained at cultural gatherings and weddings, and her musical career flourished from then.

Not a stranger to Playhouse Company stages, she has performed in America, Austria, Germany, France and India. 

She has an honorary doctorate degree in Literature, Philosophy, Musicology and Poetry from The Good Shepherd College in KwaZulu-Natal and also has The Order of Princess Magogo Award.

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Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane, an expert in Ndebele music and skilled on a number of traditional instruments. Picture: Supplied

Dawn Thandeka King, a motivational speaker, MC, spiritual healer, indigenous musician and a popular actress noted for her roles in the hit TV series "Lockdown" and Uzalo" will host the "Traditional Extravaganza Concert".

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Dawn Thandeka King, a motivational speaker, MC, spiritual healer, indigenous musician and a popular actress. Picture: Supplied

Tickets are available from R120 to R150 at the Playhouse box-office or online and at Pick n Pay outlets via WebTickets.  

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