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Follow your heart, if you listen very carefully, it will lead you to your path!

By Mzukona Mantshontsho

“Accepting rejection is part of one of the greatest lessons in life – learning that healthy love is better than just any love, that proper care is more prominent than simply being settled for.

“We are not meant to be loved and admired by everyone – people are selective, which is what makes being cared for properly more valuable,” says Sabah Khodir about the arts.

I recently spoke to Divine Artist Theatre and Casting Agent’s Dzelisile Mdluli about her personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey as an artist Eswatini. 

Tell us about your early life to your role today

I was born and raised Ka-Dlovunga, just out of Nhlangano (Mahamba route). My early life is a movie on its own, worth telling sometime in the future.  I grew up with my mother then later on, my grandmother from my father’s side, it wasn’t an easy ride. I know what it means to fetch water and firewood.

My grandmother taught me life, my mother’s passion for reading novels made me fall in love with storytelling from a very young age. From age 4, I would teach and tell stories to a wall just behind my mother’s tiny house. It’s funny how my 3-year-old daughter recently did that and it shocked me for a while that this young girl might follow in my footsteps, it’s not a journey for the faint hearted. I studied at Ka-Mazombizwe, moved on to Evelyn Baring then went to stay with my sister in Canada, Vancouver in 1999, where I enrolled for my High School Diploma.

I came back and enrolled at the University of Eswatini with the humanities department but realized halfway through that it was not for me. Tried nursing, quit that also. Then when I finally found myself, who I am and meant to be, I went back to Canada, studied creative writing and script writing. When I came back home nothing took off, as people did not even understand what you mean when you say you are a writer. If there is one thing I don’t regret, is quitting at the University of Eswatini and I’m not saying everyone should do it, but it was good for me.

When it comes to theatre, I’m not even trained for it.  My love for theatre pushed me to start this Divine Artist Theatre and Casting Agent. Before this I just focused on poetry and scriptwriting. I’m currently doing a course in theatre management so that I get to understand the business side of things.

What does your role as an artist in ESwatini mean to you?

My role is to be authentic, and true to my calling no matter what. There’s a lot of up-and-coming poets and performing artists who are looking up to us. If we give up, then their parents and communities will refer to us as failures who could not lead the way. You cannot give up your calling because it keeps on calling.

What are the most critical resources for your successful leadership? 

I do not give up. I may take a break because of disappointments in the arts industry but I will never give up.

What can we expect from you going forward since you started?

Expect a woman that cannot be moved by any wind blowing her way. I have been through it all in this industry and as soft as people may think I am, the industry has made me stronger and wiser. DIVINE ARTIST THEATRE GROUP & CASTING AGENT is here to make waves. EXPECT BIG THINGS, more SiSwati plays on life, culture, our history as Ema Swati.

We have never had our own plays on Somhlolo, Tsandzile, Dzeliwe, Gwamile, Mswati II to name a few.  Our stories need to be told otherwise somebody will do it on our behalf then we complain. The theatre is working on productions that we are hoping can tour the country and be seen internationally. Nothing is impossible.

Words of advice for young people, particularly girls or women to take that first step and be an artist? 

Follow your heart, if you listen very careful it will lead you to your path. Being and artist is not easy, there have been so many days, months and years when I wanted to give up, but I have not. Nothing is impossible!

What is the legacy that you would want to leave when you retire? Will you ever retire?

I’m 42 this year, I hope to retire at 80.

Your thoughts on Covid-19 in terms of artists, small businesses, what measures should businesses owners take to protect their businesses? 

Covid was hell, especially for artists, but it also gave us a lot to think about plus content. Grateful to organisations that helped artists out during that period.

How does your work contribute to the community?

A lot of the artists in my group did not have much going on, they wanted a space like this, and I am glad when we started the theatre group, people have come in numbers. The Mornachy is our first production, it was showing at Alliance France for Francophone on the 23rd of March. It has not been easy, first we had issues with space until Alliance France accommodated us for free. We rehearse on Thursdays and Fridays, pushing to make it a daily thing soon. Our actors will also get to train every two months so that they are ready for local and international gigs. The time is now.

What have been your highs and lows in your journey and career? 

Back in 2017, my husband and I wanted to start a side business since we are both in the arts, him being a fine artist and graphic designer. He came up with the name and I immediately fell in love with it.

When you not at work, what do you get up to, and where can people follow you online? 

I spend most of my time with my family. I work from home mostly then Thursday and Fridays it’s Theatre.

Divine Artist on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100082037513952

Mzukona

Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity. Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them. Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS. Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.

One thought on “Follow your heart, if you listen very carefully, it will lead you to your path!

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