Following arts guru and Amakhosi Theatre Productions chairman Cont Mhlanga’s retirement as director last year, the post is in female hands now as Thembi Ngwabi was appointed to lead the arts and cultural centre.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Mhlanga’s stint at Amakhosi stretches from 1981, when he established the centre, characterised by revolutionising the arts industry in Bulawayo where he groomed some of the best actors and actresses.
The Amakhosi success story, which is coupled by prestigious awards from both local and international institutions, is what Ngwabi inherited.
Recently Ngwabi and Mhlanga were at the Netherlands Embassy in Harare to receive the Prince Claus award, which marks a major achievement under her reign.
In an interview with The Standard Style, the multi-talented Ngwabi, who detailed how she was selected after a four-year training said past works and contributions ascertained why she deserves the appointment.
“It has been training for the past four years and there were three of us, but Mhlanga identified me as a fitting candidate for the post, probably because he wanted to strike gender balance,” she said.
“I also think I really deserved the appointment after training in different respects since 1980 and achieving greatly.”
The former Amakhosikazi band member added that she was ready to usher in a new era of triumph, introducing new projects like Umchilo Wamakhosikazi which left many awe-struck at last year’s Harare International Carnival Street march.
“Amakhosi is starting a new era now and we will make sure that the brand does not die because it has earned international recognition, hence it we will fly the country’s flag higher,” said Ngwabi.
“We are currently researching on different cultures as we want to reassert the real traits of the different tribes we have in the country as we shape our identity.”
Ngwabi pledged to do away with gender imbalance while imploring female artists to take advantage of her presence as she promised to make sure they get fair treatment and recognition of their potential.
“The arts have a gender balance problem, but I am ready to take women forward if they really want. Now that I am here, they can come and I will support them and help them make it through,” she said.
While Ngwabi’s curriculum vitae as the director might be short so far, she has achieved extensively as a performing artist starring in award-winning productions including, Nansi Le Ndoda (1989), Hoyaya Ho! (1990), Mdawini (1990), Stisha (1991) as well as Victims and Witnesses (1991), among many others.