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PRESS: Stage debut of gripping isiXhosa setwork, HAMBA NAM NDIPHELEKE, by Nompumezo Buzani

Fahiem Stellenboom


Stage debut of gripping isiXhosa setwork, Hamba Nam Ndipheleke, by Nompumezo Buzani, directed by Bulelani Mabutyana at The Baxter, from 14 to 30 September. Performed in isiXhosa with English surtitles.

The gripping drama, Hamba Nam Ndipheleke, by Nompumezo Buzani, makes its stage debut at the Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter, directed by Bulelani Mabutyani, with a dynamic cast and creative team, from 14 to 30 September 2023.


Performed in isiXhosa with English surtitles, Hamba Nam Ndipheleke (which means come with me, accompany me), is a Grade 10 set work. Thought-provoking and, at times, surprisingly hilarious, it is an instructive and entertaining drama about love, redemption and discovering one’s own agency and power.

Nompumezo Buzani, a professional nurse, author and playwright, lays bare the fracturing of families and the oppression and abuse that women and girls suffer in a patriarchal society that perverts culture and tradition to facilitate their exploitation.


Adapted by Anele Kose and Bulelani Mabutyana, the cast features the Magnet Theatre Youth Company who wowed audiences at The Baxter in Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles, iKrele leChiza…The Sermon and Surge. They are Azola Mkhabile, Buhle Stefane, Kuhle Myathaza, Lindokuhle Melaphi, Mihlali Bele, Molupi Lepeli, Nosiphiwo Ndabeni, Siphenathi Siqwayi, Sipho Kalako, Thabo Mkenene and Wendy Mrali.


Miliswa Mbandazayo is the dramaturge and translator, with original music composed by musical director, Bongani Magatyana, who also performs live, alongside musician Khangelani Twani. Set design is by Patrick Curtis, lighting by Franky Steyn, costumes by Asiphe Lili and audio-visual content creation by Xolani Tulumani.


The intriguing and layered story follows the journeys of two sisters (Thandiwe and Mhizana) whose indomitable spirits lead them to defy their circumstances and misfortunes, by leaving their homes to seek better lives for themselves. Their separate, yet intertwining journeys, illustrate vividly the profoundly damaging impact Apartheid’s labour migration and Bantustan systems had on the fabric of South African society.

Though barely 18 years old, Thandiwe (performed by Lindokuhle Melaphi) has already suffered enough tragedy and grief to last her a lifetime. Having been abandoned by their father at an early age, the death of their mother after a lengthy illness relegates Thandiwe and her older sister Mhizana (Mihlali Bele), to a life of servitude and exploitation, as was the case for a lot of women and girls living in what was formerly known as the Transkei Bantustan during Apartheid.


The young Thandiwe is coerced into marriage with a man twice her age by her family. Mhizana is forced to live in poverty with her abusive aunt who holds a deep bitterness and resentment towards her late sister and her now, “orphaned” children.


Other works by writer Buzani include Imida, Take me Home (2017), Igobel’esandleni (staged at the Women in Art Manyano Festival in August 2022 and earlier this year at the Mandela Bay Theatre Complex) and earlier this year she wrote an adaptation of Cry Freedom at the 2023 National Arts Festival.

“I cannot begin to express my gratitude that my play will be performed by professional actors at The Baxter, one of the most important theatres in the world,” says Buzani. “My journey as a writer has not been an easy one. It started at the foot of Hogsback Mountains, along the valleys of Tyhume River in a small rondavel where I had a cast of four - my sisters. Back then we had a big audience of one, our mother.”


She continues, “I write to share stories, to inspire other writers, to educate and to entertain and I hope that the South African child will learn something from this story.”


Her accolades include the Isakhono Award, the Living Legacy Award for her Outstanding Contribution to Theatre and Performing Arts, by the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture and the Manyano Women in Writing Award for Excellence in Prose.


Director Bulelani Mabutyana is coordinator of the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival and a Magnet Theatre graduate. He was last seen on stage at The Baxter last year in Imbilini…my friend! and has appeared in the adaptation of Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness and Running away with Gold Fish.

In 2012 his production, Worst of Both Worlds, won the Best Production award at the Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival and the playscript was published by Junketts Publishers. In 2014 he was the recipient of the Emerging Director Bursary (GIPCA) at Theatre Arts Admin where he developed and created a production called Blood Stain. Other works as director and writer include Final Chapter in a Book of Sins, Pushmi Pullyu and Beneath Table Mountain. He directed by Ezimpikweni (In the wings), written by Jared Jed Kruger and produced by the Chaeli Campaign.


Hamba Nam Ndipheleke is staged by arrangement with DALRO (Pty) Limited and is made possible by the support of the City of Cape Town and Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.


It runs at the Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter from 14 to 30 September 2023. School’s performances are at 11am (Tuesday to Thursday) and on Friday 15 September, with 7.30pm evening performances on Fridays and Saturdays and 2.30pm matinees on Saturdays.


For  discounted block or schools’ bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Nontsikeleko Maboza on email or call 021 680 3984 OR Carmen Kearns on email or call 021 680 3993.


Booking is through Webtickets ( online or at Pick n Pay stores and ticket prices are R90 and R60 for schools group bookings.


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