Sfeziwe Mkhabela writes about her life and the sad but real experience many other ladies face in South Africa. The young Nelspruit based story teller uses the stage and other art media to reach out to victims of Gender based violence. She speaks to us about her first stage play, MALUME – a riveting story aimed at teenagers and youths and her organization GirlHood.
Tell us about MALUME
MALUME is an education theater play on sexual molestation and it follows the life journey of an 18 year old female who was sexually abused by a family member. Helpless and with a polluted mind, she resorts to murdering the perpetrator. MALUME aims to tell untold stories of many South African girls who are raped and molested by those whom they thought they are safe around. It also aims in educating young males and females to voice out and say no never abuse. MALUME touches on health and social developmental issues such as rape, HIV/AIDS, physical abuse where our girls and women are abused and killed on daily basis. In the play we mention the likes of:
Karabo Mokeona who was abused and burnt by her boyfriend
Cheryl Zondi who was raped by her pastor
Nomthandazo Mbatha who was raped and buried in a shallow grave by her school mate
Tsephiso Phosa who was raped at the age of 6 years
Sfeziwe Mkhabela who was molested under the age of 10
We touch on emotional abuse issues when we are troubled emotionally it may affect our whole being, this is one factor that may affect pupil in their learning space. The world seem to raise an abandoned generation this too is what our play touches on.
How did the idea of Malume come about?
To tell you the honest truth this started as a school assignment; a monologue and a 2 hander which were both my ideas that I fused together to tell one story. It so happened that I could not afford my tuition fees with Youth of trust in the South African State theatre and then I tried applying for a bursary with an organization back at home in Nelspruit. Well, me being me, I came up with an idea to stage a play to raise funds to pay my tuition fee and guess what…Malume was staged on the 16th of June 2019 – Youth day. Part of the story is based on a true story about myself. I am what people call a victim of sexual abuse, broken family and teenage pregnancy but I say I am a victory.
How was the response and feedback?
The number of audience we had expected on the day was less because of short preparation time; schools were closed and many students were are away. The response on the day after the drama was very positive. Some of those who have been affected started opening up and asking for a way forward; questions were raised and there was quite a lot of feedback from the audience.
Plans for MALUME
I cannot really say much at this moment, but MALUME is a project on its own especially because most of us relate, not only girls and women but also the boy child. MALUME is an annual play that is looking to penetrate Youth day, Women’s month and Human Rights day. We are also open to bookings at any time of the year across the country. We plan to have a different young and vibrant faces for MALUME in the future.
We are about life changing, making an impact and helping individuals find themselves. We plan to do these through campaigns such as MALUME. I am hoping to collaborate and partner with relevant organizations, social workers, SAPS, health promoters and even the government.
There’s been increased awareness about rape and other violence against women; what more can be done to fix the society problem?
It can never be enough until it stops. I am sure we have different organizations as well as social media tackling such issues, issues we are facing every day and we ought to keep at with different strategies.
To raise more awareness, I think we need to have intense anti-molestation and rape bootcamps for both boys and girls in our different spheres of influence. Teach them to take responsibility of their lives rather than blame shifting, show videos of victims and how hard it is to recover.
How best can a victim find peace?
- Step one is talking about it to someone you trust, someone who can hold your hand through every step like opening a case.
- Speak to a professional psychologist, therapist, social worker. Organizations such as GirlHood are there to channel you to the relevant people. We need to remember 10% is what happens to you and 90% how you respond.
- I am a big fan of writing my feelings so I keep a diary, this may also teach one on how to forgive themselves and learn to forgive the perpetrator for the sake of inner peace.
Do you think stakeholders like the government are doing enough to curb this problem?
We are simply not doing enough! Over 100 people are raped every day in our country and that is just based on the attacks that are reported. Many don’t find justice or are even judged for being raped. I really think the government needs to do more especially in terms of ensuring culprits are punished.
What is the GirlHood organization about?
We invest our time in the youth (particularly girls) in Africa. We believe in harvesting for a better economy in that we equip our girls to discover and embrace their identity, develop their personal strengths and build self-esteem to create the life they want. GirlHood organizes high impact programs to support the youth. We plan to create job opportunities for our youth in following their purpose of life as we penetrate different schools and interact with our youth.
What makes Girlhood different from other organizations?
We find opportunities to change one’s life journey through art, we focus our energy on constructive feedback. GirlHood uses personal stories to create positive feedback for one to take ownership and be able to face issues of life.