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What's on at the 2019 Vavasati International Women's Fest

The programme lineup for the seventh Vavasati International Women's Festival has been announced. The festival will run at the South African State Theatre (SAST) in Pretoria for the whole of Women's Month - from 2 to 31 August 2019.
The 2019 programme has been curated by Mamela Nyamza and co-curator Kgaogelo Tshabalala.

Salute Mfazi

Women-made works

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.

The theatre created a festival of this magnitude to widen access to spaces and theatre resources to female artists.

Slindile Mthebu - Igama

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 that are strictly created by women.

Poetry and jazz

A newly added feature to the festival is the Open Market and Live Music segment that will take place every Sunday. This will be a lively setting on an open-air rooftop towered by landmark surrounds overlooking the arts complex.

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 various female poets.

Ayanda Zungu

Performance art

International acts dominate the performance art category with Namibia’s Trixie Munyama performing Xun, which investigate how society deals with trauma and oppression; Zimbabwean choreographer Susan Nkata delving into themes around 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.

Llewellyn Reichman - FOOL

There are seven performance art pieces in Vavasati this year – signalling a growing interest in the art form.


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 Intentionby 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 SilentEmpty 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.

Nomvuyo Hlophe - Empty Wraps


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 piece titled Ithemba (Hope). The work will showcase with Teresa Phuti Mojela’s Legaga – an autobiography inspired by Mojela’s life journey.


Photographer Lindeka Qampi will be showcasing her exhibition titled Inside My Heart. Her lenses are focused on her eyewitness experiences of violence as a survivor. She aims to break the silence of being a survivor. She zooms into the voiceless survivors who are still facing 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.

Lindeka Qampi - Inside My Heart
Palesa Makua - Her Skin Speaks

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 amongst all genders. The event is open to the public for free.

Tickets for the festival may be purchased online on and at Pick n Pay outlets nationwide. For the full programme please visit
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