From the stage to City Hall…The many hats of Lady Tshawe

12 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
From the stage to City Hall…The many hats of Lady Tshawe Lady Tshawe

The Sunday News

Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter 

WHEN Nomashawekazi Damasane, popularly known as Lady Tshawe, was appointed as the new Arts, Culture and Heritage Officer for the City of Bulawayo last month, there was a notable outpouring of jubilation in the city’s performing arts circles. 

Her appointment was greeted as a collective triumph for the industry, given that Tshawe is not only an administrator but also an active performer. 

Very often in the past, the city’s artistes have felt that they are not adequately represented in the corridors of power, with the people tasked with looking after their welfare blissfully unaware of the true needs of the sector. 

For years, artistes from various fields felt that they were singing to deaf ears, with their desires rarely heard or taken into consideration. 

With Lady Tshawe, they feel things could be different. Although she is an administrator by day, by night Lady Tshawe is one of the city’s most accomplished poets, thespians and singers. She is also a radio host on Skyz Metro FM and founded one of the most popular clothing brands in Bulawayo, Ndebele Crush. 

While for the arts scene in Bulawayo, her appointment was cause for celebration, for Tshawe, the new portfolio has added a new morsel to her already overflowing plate. 

However, while this might overwhelm lesser artistes, for Lady Tshawe, her new office comes at what she feels is the right time for her. 

“For me, it’s a challenge and I am someone who enjoys challenges until they become a bit difficult to manoeuvre,” she told Sunday Life in an interview. 

“With each thing that I add to my plate, I am always learning and I am taking on these things whenever I feel like it’s the right time. So, the way I juggle all these tasks is by setting goals that I feel I can achieve. I don’t like being stuck in one place or getting too comfortable doing one thing,” she said. 

Skyz Metro FM

Tshawe said the new appointment also gives her a chance to show another aspect of herself, a new face that the general public is not yet acquainted with. 

“I do believe that I am a multi-faceted human being and I should always be exploring different ways of telling stories. So, my passion and my goals are that I am a storyteller and I want to tell stories through my artistic abilities such as spoken word and theatre. I find different avenues to tell my story. I tell my story as a human being, as Tshawe but I also tell stories of the people around me. I tell stories of the things I am passionate about. I am passionate about the art of drinking tea, I am passionate about art and I am passionate about culture. All things make up who I am. 

“How I balance all of it is just by making time for the things that matter. Right now, the new portfolio that I am in, speaks to my desire to be a storyteller not only in the arts but in other facets of culture and heritage in the city and country. These are things that are close to my heart,” she said.

Not content with being just another performer, Tshawe said she was eager to exchange her performance gear for formal wear, as she explored the corridors of power with other city fathers and mothers, sniffing out better opportunities for artistes in the city. 

In this regard, Tshawe sees herself as the fresh voice of a sector that has felt like outsiders looking in whenever issues of importance are discussed. 

“I would like to see myself as someone who sees both sides of the coin. I have had my experiences as a performing artiste but I am also someone who strives to make things go by making sure that as artistes we need to find ourselves in spaces where our voices can be heard. These are the places where we can make an impact that not only benefits us but also those who come after us in a manner that’s either big or small. It’s unfortunate that when I got into this industry, it wasn’t as formalised as it is in other countries like, for example, South Africa. 

“There were instances where certain voices were absent because they were not in those spaces. I believe that my journey has pushed me, perhaps unknowingly, to get to a place where I become an arts administrator. I can put on the formal look and become a person who works from nine to five but I do so within a sector that I so enjoy. So, I believe I become a full package. I want to leave a legacy where I can say I did my utmost best to improve the arts and never sat on my laurels,” she said.

From spoken word artiste to theatre actress, radio host, and now arts administrator, Tshawe seems to have done it all. Despite this, however, she still regards theatre as her first love. 

“I’ve always regarded theatre as my number one love. When I started, it was easier for me to get into the sector with spoken word. That way I could build networks with people and then start to get into that one discipline that I would love to be a part of. I studied theatre and music at university so that explains why that was my first love. 

“Right now I am at a place where I am equally in love with all the various disciplines that I do, as long as they allow me to express myself without being censored or put in a box. If I was to put a hierarchy of sorts, I would say theatre and spoken word are the top two. Every other discipline, whether it’s music or dance, I feel like I can fit into the scope of what theatre does or what spoken word does. These other arts disciplines allow me to enhance the work that I am bringing onto the stage,” she said. 

As she steps into her new shoes, Tshawe said she was not overawed by the journey that awaited her. Instead, she said she regarded this as yet another opportunity to tell her story and that of her community. 

“When I began this journey, I started telling the story about identity, culture and history through my brand Ndebele Crush and it has then shown me that we can tell our story about who we are as a people and what makes us tick on a larger platform. I am learning a lot about myself throughout this process because sometimes I might drop the ball and fall short. 

 

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