Dineo Mnyanga


As society we often label a sexually liberated damsel isifebe, a whore with no sense of moral standing. While men’s carnal desires are acknowledged and wickedly perceived as a prerequisite to proper manhood. But things is changing, albeit gradually.

Women, especially black women are beginning to be recognised as the diamonds they are, largely because they’ve taken it upon themselves to own their womanhood, in all ways. Photographer Dineo Mnyanga and her partner Shirley Mtombeni are   celebrating women this weekend, through an exhibition, Makaziwe, a collaborative project with other lenswomen and female artists.

Work by Sinethemba Mthembu.

Hosted at Yes 4Youth, adjacent Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa, the two day exhibition is themed, Her Desires. “It’s work of art, work of expression,” says Mnyanga.

“We feature different women from across the country and we were honoured when women from Black View Finder foundation, women in photography showed interest in our exhibition. We also feature young upcoming photographers locally. ”

The work of Charmain Carrol.

The list of exhibitors include Charmain Carrol, Phumzile Nkosi, Matheko Malebana, Lebogang Molota, Mosa Seleke, Sinethemba Mthembu and Cleopatra Matuwane. “Each photographer brings uniqueness, that’s what we loved the most, their work is different yet they all share the same thoughts and feelings.”

Mnyanga and Mtombeni made sure to strike a balance with regards to the age difference of the exhibitors, managing to capture the feelings of various women in their dissimilar phases in life.

Phumzile Nkosi’s work

Makaziwe is originally a play written by Mtombeni about a woman, who two years into marriage, grows sexual dissatisfaction with her hubby who doesn’t understand her body. The play showed at the Moses Molelekwa Art Centre and was produced by Mnyanga last year.

“Initially when Makaziwe started, it was more than a play, it was a movement! The movement inspired us to create different platforms within the arts and culture industry to express what women feel, think and want through their work. The first platform was Makaziwe the play,” Mnyanga tells me. The play will return to stage later this year.

Partners in  action(from L-R):Dineo Mnyanga and Shirely Mtombeni

While the exhibition is scheduled to take place this weekend, there are talks of it moving to other galleries. “So we can safely say the work won’t end here.”



ART is a depiction of life, period. Artists are in inspired by real life events, sometimes in their own life which serves as a cathartic experience for them and those who receive the art.

Makaziwe, a play which opened on Thursday night at the Moses Molelekwa Art Centre in Tembisa tells the story of producer of the production, Dineo Mnyanga. “The play is basically my life story, I was in a relationship and wasn’t getting satisfaction from my partner. I decided to tell this story, also as a way of coming out,” Mnyanga says.

Makaziwe is a story of a married woman who after two years into her marriage, grows sexual dissatisfaction with her husband who is generic, doesn’t seem to understand her body and doesn’t pay real attention on her and the relationship. The story explores gender based violence and sexual relations in heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

A photographer by profession, Mnyanga believes the story is also her way of coming out to the world as a lesbian because she’s been holding it inside of her for a while now. Showing me her wedding ring finger without the wedding band, she says “I just removed my ring now in June. I haven’t completed the divorce process-it’s a hard and draining process. But we’re going through a separation right now. But I feel free,” Mnyanga calmly tells me after the play.

“What really drew me to this story, was the sexuality. Women’s sexuality-I’m one of those people, who isn’t comfortable talking about sex and what you want as a woman. I come from Ga-Habedi, a small village in the North West and such things are talked about only by adults,” says director and co-writer Mphoentle Ngoepe. She was initially cast as the main actress of the play, but then chose to be behind the scene.

The play is co-written by Koketjo Tesh waga Mashedi, who roped in Ngoepe after he wrote the script. “I got the concept from Dineo and started writing. After that, I realised that it needed a female voice because there are things that I don’t know and can’t talk about as a man,” says waga Mashedi.

“I read the story and thought, let me tell it from a female point of view…some of the things I thought were not for us women, or for me as an individual who was reading the story. I was like nah there’s no woman who can say this,” says Ngoepe.

Makaziwe play at Moses Molelekwa Art Centre. Photo by Dineo Mnyanga.

Good as it was, the play is still being developed. After the show, the whole cast and crew had an open floor discussion with the audience to talk about the play and also get feedback, so to improve it. “I really liked what people said. They’re input will help us grow and develop this play even further, because since April we’ve had about six scripts that had to be changed,” waga Mashedi says. He adds that he was pleased that ordinary people were in the audience on the night. “It was not just artists, who’ll only talk about the technical stuff. But these people here are the society, the people who are actually going through this.”

Makaziwe play at Moses Molelekwa Art Centre. Photo by Dineo Mnyanga.

Ngoepe says the idea of an open floor discussion and feedback from the audience wasn’t necessarily planned. “Day before yesterday, we were really challenged because I thought the [last] scene could end this way, while Tesh thought it could be done that way and the actors felt it could done in another way…and we were like, clearly this isn’t an ending show, how about we open it up and hear what the viewers, the people of the story think about it.”

The crew is planning on bringing the story back in December during the 16 Days of activism against gender based violence. But with a fuller and more comprehensible production.

One audience member who wasn’t so assertive in his comments, said he could tell that someone is trying to relay something in particular through this play. “That audience member was right,” says Mnyanga. “I think he can tell that I’m trying to tell my story here.”



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