Vavasati International Women’s Festival is on

Pretoria – The seventh Vavasati International Women’s Festival runs at the South African State Theatre (SAST) in Pretoria during Women’s Month, up to 31 August.

  The programme is curated by Mamela Nyamza and Kgaogelo Tshabalala. The spotlight will be on works addressing systemic structures of power that continue to discriminate against women under the theme: Inequality: Seizing the Megaphone!

  The festival’s name “Vavasati” (Xitsonga word meaning women) reiterates the power and strength that women possess when they unite.

  Speaking to the theme of the festival, Nyamza who is the SAST’s deputy artistic director, says: “Inequality: Seizing the Megaphone! unequivocally emphasises that gender inequality is still deeply embedded in our society through patriarchy and the ongoing legacies of colonialism and apartheid. Misogyny, sexism, gender-based violence and abuse of women and children are devastating. The role of the arts in helping to shift destructive narratives is crucial for empowering women and changing our society for the better.”

  This year’s instalment boasts of over 20 works, strictly created by women. A newly added feature to the festival is the Open Market and Live Music segment, taking place every Sunday.

  Most poetry and jazz sessions will take place here. Listed performances include Natalia Molebatsi and the Poets; Ayanda Zungu and The Band; Solace Can; and Bodies Under Siege poetry showcase by female poets.

  International acts dominate the performance category with Namibia’s Trixie Munyama performing Xun, which investigates how society deals with trauma and oppression; Zimbabwean choreographer Susan Nkata delving into themes on female sexuality (masturbation and orgasm) in an all-women production titled Bloom; and Germany’s Llewellyn Reichman presenting Fool, based on the fool from Shakespeare’s King Lear, inspired by ‘Folly’, emerging from the quill of Erasmus von Rotterdam.

   In the theatre programme, Igama by Slindile Mthebu intersects five women stories inside a boxed community as they are seen through the eyes of their oppressor. In the play It Wasn’t My Intention by Busisiwe Mazibuko, women share accounts on their encounter with the justice system.

  Diamond Mokoape tells a painful past of a young woman who wants to reclaim her innocence in Silent. Empty Wraps by Nomvuyo Hlophe presents a series of deconstructed monologues broken down into thoughts resulting from loss and broken relationships that have manifested into the lives of four women.

  Dance-lovers can look forward to emotive works including Small Boys with Big Sticks, wherein choreographer Palesa Matabane breaks an innovative analysis of the country’s politics. The work depicts how politicians are just playing an ego game with the lives of voters.

  Thulisile Binda shares her heart-wrenching journey as a dancer in her Ithemba. The work showcases with Teresa Mojela’s Legaga – an autobiography inspired by her life journey.

  Photographer Lindeka Qampi will showcase her exhibition, Inside My Heart; focused on her experiences of violence as a survivor. She aims to break the silence of being a survivor. She zooms into the voiceless survivors who still face fears of violence.

  Another photo exhibition is Her Skin Speaks by Palesa Makua. The installation is a movement dedicated to celebrating women’s ever-changing bodies. It is here to set a reminder to women that they are okay as they are.

  Social activist and A-Gender Movement founder Tebogo Ditinti will facilitate a talk/seminar called #A-Gender The Movement, aimed at bridging the gap in communication among all genders. The event is open to the public for free.

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