Review: Vumani Oedipus at the Market

A new theatre culture is being created at The Market Theatre. A culture that goes beyond the boundaries of the spoken word by using a collection of languages, performances and emotions.

Vumani Oedipus is a collaborative effort between the Wits Theatre and The Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The play is a reworking of the classic Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex into an African rendition. Directed by Wits School of Arts (WSOA) lecturer Dr Samuel Ravengai, the majority of the cast and crew are Wits students with two students from The Market Laboratory Drama School also included.


POWER HUNGRY: Edipha (Lucky Ndlovu) kneels in front of three of the seven imbongis and Jocasta (Nomfundo Shezi) during the performance of Vumani Oedipus at The Market Theatre. Photo: Samantha Camara

Friday night’s performance was nothing short of energetic and focused making it difficult to choose a single stand-out moment. Each action was met with an equal reaction that made the story flow effortlessly and the hour fly by quicker than one would have hoped.

Lucky Ndlovu (Edipha) and Nomfundo Shezi (Jocasta) are the striking lead pair whose interactions captivate the audience throughout the performance.

The theatre was filled with a diverse group of audience members who laughed, gasped and sympathised with the characters.

The play is performed in about 60 percent English and the remainder in a variety of Nguni languages such as isiZulu, Seswati, isiXhosa and Ndebele. Despite the variety of languages used in the play and the intentional abscence of subtitles or interpretation, it is simple to follow even if you only understand one of the languages used.

The performance relies far more on emotion and physical performance than the spoken word.  The facial expressions from perfomers such as Sibusiso Mkhize (Kiliyoni) were more than enough to follow what is happening.


TRAGEDY: From front, Edipha (Lucky Ndlovu) is helped up by the court attendant (Sandile Mazibuko) while Kiliyoni (Sibusiso Mkize) watches during the performance of Vumani Oedipus at The Market Theatre. Photo: Samantha Camara

Although the story of Edipha was one of prophesised tragedy and the audience left the theatre feeling heart sore for the characters, there were a number of light-hearted moments. Fumani Moeketsi (Thilesi The Sangoma) was responsible for many of these moments with her witty retorts and fiesty attitude.

The performance flowed perfectly from beginning to end and it was a pleasure to watch young talent perform with such passion, energy and professionalism.

Vumani Oedipus is showing at The Market Theatre’s Barney Simon Theatre until Sunday, October 11.


Kyalami’s female brewmaster

The bitter, yeasty smell of fermenting beer flows out the door as you enter the brewery located in an office park in Kyalami, and the smell is surprisingly appealing. The brewery bar is simple and welcoming with light streaming through the doors making the polished silver beer taps shine. Brewmaster Apiwe Nxusani is out of sight working in the brewery. As a black female brewmaster, Nxusani is a rarity in the brewing industry.

The title, ‘brewmaster’, is given to people who have at least five years of practical brewing experience. As brewmaster, Nxusani oversees the brewing process, recipe design and quality of the beer being made at the brewery.

MASTER: Female beer brewers are rare these days but Apiwe Nxusani is a master beer brewer who has her honours in Microbiology. She hope to inspire more black women to enter the male dominated industy. Photo: Samantha Camara

MASTER: Female beer brewers are rare these days but Apiwe Nxusani is a master beer brewer who has her honours in Microbiology. She hope to inspire more black women to enter the male dominated industy. Photo: Samantha Camara

“My favourite thing is seeing people interact with the beers I have made, knowing that I started them from scratch,” says Nxusani.

Nxusani is currently the brewmaster and part-owner of micro-brewery Brewhogs. She began her career climbing the ranks at South African Breweries (SAB) in 2007, leaving in 2013 to pursue a path in craft beer.

According to Nxusani, women have been the ones who brewed beer throughout history and traditionally in many African cultures men are not allowed to do be brewers. However, in modern culture being a brewer is predominantly a male job.

“A lot of people that come through are actually surprised that you have a black woman actually making the beer, which is something that is uncommon currently,” Nxusani said.

Nxusani said she became interested in brewing while in high school when she attended an open day at RAU (now University of Johannesburg). She completed her BSc (Microbiology) at Wits and went on to do her Honours degree at the University of Pretoria.

Nxusani then went on to get a Master Brewer Diploma from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) based in London. She is the only person in South Africa to get a national diploma in clear fermented beverages and the first black person in South Africa to be approved by the IBD as a Brewing Training Provider.

CRAFT BEER QUEEN: Apiwe Nxusani laughs as she poses with the kegs of craft beer she makes. Photo: Samantha Camara

CRAFT BEER QUEEN: Apiwe Nxusani laughs as she poses with the kegs of craft beer she makes. Photo: Samantha Camara

“I feel I’m opening paths for other people. There are many more [black women] within the bigger breweries but within the craft industry it’s mainly male dominated.”

“It’s really quite a rare thing to find females. I’m hoping we inspire more and more so that more females would get into it and more black people would get into it” she said.

Craft beers have gained immense popularity in the past few years. Nxusani says when she got into the craft beer industry working for SAB speciality beers in 2011 she was one of the first people to make speciality beers for SAB.

“Back then at festivals you’d have five, maybe six breweries having stands but now breweries are fighting to get into festivals. Currently they’re estimating 160 breweries across our country and that’s going to be doubling or tripling by this time next year,” Nxusani said.

When asked which Brewhogs beer is her favourite Nxusani she can’t say choose because “the beers have got different tastes and are targeted for different palates.”

Wits Drama at The Market Theatre

Wits Theatre has collaborated in The Market Theatre for a play called Vumani Oedipus, opening in October.

Vumani Oedipus, a play by Wits School of Arts (WSOA), will be showing at The Market Theatre in October.

The collaboration “came about by default, it wasn’t planned” said director and WSOA lecturer Dr Samuel Ravengai. Due to a number of productions running simultaneously, there was a shortage of performers so Ravengai had the idea to approach The Market Laboratory Drama School, the training branch of The Market Theatre. “Three [The Market Laboratory students] got places, one of them has fallen out so I’m using two and the rest are from Wits Theatre”.

Vumani Oedipus is an “an Africanisation of the classic murder mystery”, the ancient Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex or Oedipus The King, according to the WSOA website. “The play is classified as a Greek play but if you look at the history of performance, the so-called Greek civilisation and it’s so called Greek plays are actually an off-shoot of African performances” said Ravengai.

PLAYING AROUND: Director Dr Samuel Ravengai (far left) makes a joke while directing cast members Sibusiso Mkhize, Nomfundo Shezi and Lucky Ndlovu (left to right) during a photoshoot for Vumani Oedipus, a collaborative production between Wits Theatre and The Market Theatre.

PLAYING AROUND: Director Dr Samuel Ravengai (far left) makes a joke while directing cast members Sibusiso Mkhize, Nomfundo Shezi and Lucky Ndlovu (left to right) during a photoshoot for Vumani Oedipus, a collaborative production between Wits Theatre and The Market Theatre. Photo: Samantha Camara

Ravengai explained that his motivation for doing this play was to ground the work in an African context, saying that he was, “appropriating what was stolen or taken or appropriated from Africa and replanting it back into the African stories”.

Ravengai hopes the play will show “the possibility that South African theatre has, which is a celebration of our collective identities”.  He added that, “It is possible to create a uniquely South African theatre that celebrates everybody in this kind of performance, which I think has not been done in many years at Wits and at The Market Theatre.

The play strives to develop a new theatre culture that encourages transformation by incorporating a number of languages and traditions.

“For the first time at Wits and the first time at The Market Theatre we are going to do a play where English occupies about 60 to 65 percent of the linguistic content of the play and the rest of it will be Nguni languages, which is Zulu, Seswati, isiXhosa and Ndebele. I am not going to be using titles because theatre has its own language.”

Vumani Oedipus runs from 6 -11 October at the Barney Simon Theatre at The Market Theatre.

Slut Shaming – the new bullying

Summer has arrived and warmer weather means shorter shorts, bikinis and maybe a crop top or two but do you look like a slut?

When walking through campus, going on a night out or just walking down the street, one can’t help but notice the girl wearing shorts or a dress that are just a little “too short”. Maybe her choice of top is more revealing than comfortable and onlookers can’t help but anticipate a wardrobe malfunction that is bound to happen any minute.

But can and should onlookers judge this person based on her choice of dress?

Slut shaming is a phenomenon that exists both in reality and on social media where people, mostly woman, are judged for their sexual behaviour or wearing revealing clothing and declared to be sluts regardless of whether or not the allegations are true.

A psychological study titled ‘‘Good Girls’’: Gender, Social Class, and Slut Discourse on Campus done by social psychologists from the University of Michigan and the University of California found that slut shaming or “sexual labels were exchanged fluidly but rarely became stably attached to particular women.”

According to the study, “the boundaries women drew were shaped by status on campus, which was closely linked to class background. High-status women considered the performance of a classy femininity—which relied on economic advantage—as proof that one was not trashy. In contrast, low-status women, mostly from less-affluent backgrounds, emphasized niceness and viewed partying as evidence of sluttiness.”

The boundaries of “sluttiness” created between different classes and the social power given to wealthier groups, means poorer groups were more likely to be slut-shamed, particularly poorer students who tried to enter into higher social circles. Higher social circles allowed  “greater space for sexual experimentation” as a form of “sexual privilege”.

Wits Vuvuzela met with a group of friends to get their opinions about slut shaming on campus, and this is what they had to say:

“If there’s someone who you think is really pretty, it feels justified by saying they’re sleeping around. I think it comes from insecurity” said Ayla Senekal, 1st BA (Fine Arts).

“I believe that the word slut should be a compliment, just think about it, why would anyone feel insulted if you told them that they are enjoying their lives more than you are” said Lindo Mashini, 1st year BA(Music).

“It [slut shaming] comes from when you look at someone and you see something other to you. It’s kind of like it’s wrong because it’s not the same, no matter what it is” said Christy Golding, 1st year BA (Fine Arts).

“I think they should have the right to dress how they want to dress but people are going to think what they’re going to think regardless” said Matthew Chadwick, 1st year BA(Music).

Although the use of slut shaming in a South African context may differ from the study, slut shaming is considered to be a form of bullying that exists in and beyond the classic forms of bullying found in childhood.

University students or adults may have moved on from the days when they bullied the “weird” kid around in the corridors but is passing judgement on how people, but more specifically women dress the adult equivalent?



Marikana memory fades for students

The third anniversary of the Marikana massacre came and went on August 16.

The massacre, one of the worst atrocities committed by the South African police against civilians since Apartheid, has been extensively documented through the Farlam Commission that followed and documented the lives of the families of the deceased miners since 2012.

In contrast, it appears the events of Marikana are quickly fading from the memory of the student community at Wits University, one of South Africa’s top tertiary institutions.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to a number of students on campus about their recollection of the massacre, their thoughts about the Farlam Commission and whether they commemorated the anniversary in any way.

What do you know about Marikana?

“Marikana is the human rights violation, the killing of the miners that happened in North-West,” said Boniswa Mdangi, 2nd year BA Social Work.

“I just know the strikes and the killings that happened a year ago or a year and a half ago, whenever it was,” said Michael Sithole, 3rd year Accounting.

“Absolutely nothing. This is definately the first time I have heard about it,” said Didi Allie, 1st year BA Fine Arts.

“I know there was a shooting between miners and the police and things got a bit ugly, some people died,” said Wandile Mgwenya 3rd year Accounting Sciences.

“Marikana is in the North-West where we have a platinum mine called Lonmin. I know about the massacre that happened there,” said Lutendo Mulaudzi, 1st year Mining Engineering.

“I know that Marikana was a very gruesome event that shook South Africa. I know a lot of people failed to take accountability. I know a lot of miners died,” said Lindelwa Didiza, 3rd year Bcom Accounting.

“I know it has to do with mining and it’s been going on for a long time. There’s a lot of politics around it. I’m not 100% sure what it’s regarding,” said Nthabi Maine, 1st year BA Film and TV.

“I know Marikana is a mine in Rustenburg where there was a strike and people got killed during that strike by the police,” said Mthetheleli, 3rd year BCom Accounting.

“Miners were rioting for higher wages and it’s all around the police reaction because they started shooting,” said Nicky Patchitt, 1st year Film and TV.

“There was a strike because miners were unhappy about conditions on the mines and pay. And the strike ended in miners being shot by police,” said Lunga Mputa, 3rd year Economics and Finance.

What did you do to commemorate the 3rd anniversary on the 16th August?

“No, but we were planning to do something about it since we have the Marikana killing as part of our assignments for human rights, social work,” said BA Nomasonto Bore, 2nd year BA Social Work.

“I kind of feel there’s other things we could have celebrated and gone back to, just simple protestings and shootings like, in Apartheid era, the Soweto strikes and people that were shot there, that’s old news now and now they’re worried about miners?” said Daniel Jean van der Merwe, 2nd year BSc Archeology and Anatomy.

“No, I’m very aware of what happened at Marikana and the stuff that happened but I didn’t do anything, in my heart I’m not satisfied with what they giving them, I’d like for them to get more than what they are getting [referring to a statue he saw being build near the site]. Rembering is good but people want more than that,” said Philani Ntuli, 3rd year Business Management.

Why is Marikana important?

“This Marikana issue has shown us that it’s not always a race issue, it’s also a class issue and power struggle … It’s not always a race issue, even our own black people can oppress us,” said Thato Mokoena, 2nd year BA Social Work.

What is the Farlam Commission?

“I think I’ve heard about that but I don’t know what it actually is,” said Nicky Patchitt, 1st year Film and TV.

“It’s a commission that was set up to enquire what happened at Marikana. The results were talking about questioning the authority of the SAPS (South African Police Force), if they were experienced enough to be in power,” said Lutendo Mulaudzi, 1st year Mining engineering.

“Some people that were set up to enquire about the whole thing, that’s all I know,” said Wandile Mgwenya, 3rd year Accounting Sciences.

“Not much except that it never really addressed the problem or come up with any solutions. What I know nothing really happened for the miners, which I think is unfair,” said Lunga Mputa, 3rd year Bcom Economics.

The Marikana reality 

Despite media coverage, the lives of miners and their families have not changed, as explored in a recent article in the Daily Maverick. “Marikana looks the same”, the article states. Living conditions of the miners and their families have not improved significantly despite government and Lonmin mines promising to build better housing, improve infrastructure and provide support for families affected by the massacre.

SRC debate investigated

The disruptions and fights that broke out during the SRC debate on Tuesday August 18, are being investigated by Wits Legal Office and Campus Control.

An investigation into the disruptions and fights that broke out during the SRC debate on Tuesday has been made a top priority by Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib.

Review of evidence and assessing complaints received by Campus Control began on Wednesday and will continue to make a decision on whether or not to investigate further or have a disciplinary process, said head of communications for Wits, Shirona Patel.

“Once the individuals have been identified, if they then have broken the university’s code of conduct or they disrupted the electoral process in terms of rules that are laid out then obviously the university will take action within our policies and processes,” said Patel.

Habib has asked the Wits Legal Office and Campus Control for a speedy investigation. An official statement will be released once the investigation is completed.

In a video and photos of the debate and fight on, Project W candidate Tristan Marot is seen arguing before dodging what appears to be a punch to the face. Other members of Project W, the Progressive Youth Alliance and the Wits Economic Freedom fighters can be seen shouting and shoving.

Marot claims that the attempted punch was thrown by former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini. He said he does not remember exactly what happened prior to the alleged attack but says he does recall what he said to Dlamini before the punch was thrown.

Marot said he told Dlamini to “Calm down, you [Mcebo] are already in trouble with the university.”

Dlamini was contacted by Wits Vuvuzela for comment but did not reply as of press time.

Marot was also photographed with a man grabbing him around the throat. He said the man attempted to “strangle him” but Marot could not identify him.

“It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and wearing a Project W t-shirt … I don’t think the attack was against me as Tristan” said Marot. There was very little “calm dialogue” at the time when the fights broke out according to Marot.