Formerly the Masiphumelele Youth Development Theatre Group, Ukwanda Puppet and Design Company was formed during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa by Luyanda Nogodlwane and Ncedile Daki, both former members of Handspring Puppet Company. Masiphumelele, a Xhosa word meaning “we will succeed”, is a township along the road to Kommetjie in the southern Cape Peninsula.

Ukwanda initially made makaraba, the hand-made helmets worn by soccer fans, also performing as a dance group with traditional and hip hop outfits, sometimes during township tours. They have performed at a variety of venues, including schools, theatres and festivals. In 2014 they performed at the Montague National Youth Arts Festival, Western Cape; at the Cape Town Fringe Festival; and at the Farewell Festival for retiring UWC rector, Brian O’Connell, UWC campus. In 2015 they are scheduled to appear at the Zabalaza Theatre Festival at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, and at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Ukwanda’s puppet production, Qhawe, a Xhosa fairytale, is directed by Mongiwekhaya (Mongi) Mthombeni, with the assistance of Gabriel Merchand, and the puppets are designed by Luyanda Nogodlwana, with the support of other members of Ukwanda. Qhawe is based on a story from Xhosa tradition about how animals once had the power to communicate with people, particularly the Amaqaba, the red people, so-named because of the red ochre they wore on their clothes in order to communicate with the ancestors. More particularly, Qhawe tells the story of a son of a chief (Qhawe), born to the younger of his two wives (Mamcirha). Because she is jealous, the older wife (Marhadebe), who cannot fall pregnant, steals the child at birth, replacing him with a puppy.  Qhawe is then reared by animals far from his home village. Marhadebe, the older wife, replaces the child with a puppy. As an older person, Qhawe returns to the village of his birth, only to find that it is being terrorised by a snake called ‘Great One’. On killing the snake, he becomes a hero of the village and is also re-united with his father, the chief.

Ukwanda members: Luyanda Nogodlwana, Ncedile Daki, Sipho Ngxola, Siphokazi Mphofu

Qhawe cast: Luyanda Nogodlwana, Ncedile Daki, Sipho Ngxola, Siphokazi Mphofu, Nomakhosi Meveni, Sydwell Klaas, Zikhona Jan

Ukwanda Puppet and Design Company is supported by the Handspring Trust for Puppetry Arts and the CHR at UWC.

Contact details

Ncedile Daki: 071 955 8655

Luyanda Nogodlwana: 083 7607700

Sipho Ngxola: 073 823 9782

Siphokazi Mphofu: 078 524 1847

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