It is said that one’s greatest pain can become their greatest triumph.
Thembi Moyo, an internationally acclaimed playwright, shared with The Weight She Carries how she managed to let the pain of her loss shape her into the woman she has now become. She walked us through her journey.
I grew up in one of the oldest suburbs of Bulawayo (Zimbabwe). My father was an industrial worker and my mother, a housewife. We did not have much growing up, but we were taught to share that little that we had. We are truly grateful for these lessons because they have helped us survive through life.
I attended my primary and secondary education in Magwegwe. After I completed my secondary level, I enrolled for temporary teaching and taught from 1999-2002, which is where I met my husband.
After that, I moved on to college, where I studied media studies. Although my father wanted me to do teaching in order to have a stable income, I followed my heart and went into media instead. I had always wanted to be a storyteller [for] as long as I could remember.
I remember the first attachment work I got for a newspaper. I got bored in the first week and simply walked out without saying goodbye because I wanted to be a creator. Later, I landed a job at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), which is the national broadcaster. During [my time there], there were great content creators who really inspired and mentored me.
After ZBC, I went on to Amakhosi Arts Theatre for two years, studying scriptwriting and productions. I created a lot of productions with Amakhosi during that time.
Due to the economic meltdown we faced as a nation, I relocated to South Africa in 2007-2010.
Although I worked in a Portuguese restaurant and although I was getting good money, I was not fulfilled because content creation was pressed on my heart.
And so, after the football World Cup, I came back home and went back to Amakhosi, where I found them working on a play called ‘Nyami Nyami’ and I became one of the writers.
In 2011, I proudly registered my own production company called Gitiz Pictures, which creates content for both theatre and television. In 2012, I penned down my first play named ‘I want to Fly,’ which catapulted me into the limelight.
It has been nominated for a women’s international playwright conference, which is a very prestigious conference, which is where I met a group of amazing women who have inspired me quite a lot.
This particular play has gone on to be published in the African Contemporary Plays by African Women compilation. Some of the excerpts will be used in the textbook being authored for the Cambridge English syllabus for Grades 9-10 in the United Kingdom.
Throughout the years, I have worked on quite a number productions, namely ‘Amakorokoza,’ which was a hit series on the national broadcaster, ‘Sibahle Nje,’ ‘Sipho Sami,’ as well as ‘Ezakomatshelela.’
In 2014, tragedy struck. I lost my husband. I was 31 years old when it happened. My firstborn was 5 years old and my second-born only 7 months old. To be honest, that was the darkest time of my life. I lost myself. It felt as if l was bound by chains that would not break.
That experience drastically altered my perspective on life, which also reflects in my work because I write from experience and from the heart.
It took me over three years to rise up and start working on myself. One of the reasons that made me lose myself, I realize now, is that at that time, my life revolved around my husband and children. [I] never did anything for me, Thembi, which is okay but can also become a pitfall when you lose one of those people because your world just collapses.
During the process of picking myself up, I have learnt to be the best version of myself. I actually found myself and realized that firstly, I needed to be self-fulfilled before I could fulfill others around me. Now, I have vision, and I am able to overcome anything set in my way. It was a necessary process.
I have since thrown myself back into my work, which is content creation, full time. Even my work reflects the transformation I have gone through because I write from the heart and experience. I try to be as authentic as possible. At the moment, I am collaborating with a lot of writers as well as mentoring young women who want to become content creators.
In 2018, Thembi’s play “Who Said I Don’t Want to Dance” was read at the International Women’s Playwrights in Chile as well as Glasgow, Scotland. It has been produced in Philadelphia, USA under the Pulley Button Hole theatre. Her drama series “Ezakomatshelela” won a Roil Bulawayo Arts Award in 2019.
Thembi leaves the following advice for women who have the desire to enter into arts:
Never give up. It has taken me millions of steps finding my niche, and I am still searching for what I am really passionate about. No matter what, do not lose sight of your dreams until they have become a reality. Trials and tribulations have strengthened me.