SEASON 3, EPISODE 1: Nobantu Shabangu: Haircuts, hard truths, and the pitfalls and potentials of therapy
Play • 43 min

Nobantu Shabangu is a gender non-conforming South African writer of plays, poems, short stories and essays. They started writing when they were nine years old, and at eighteen they won a national essay competition on the cruelty of farm animals. This was the first of many prizes including Leopard’s Leap 2018 Message on a Bottle writing competition, and the January (2019) Igby Essay Prize on Kahalari Review.

Between 2012 and 2014 they were part of the British Council Playwright’s Residency in conjunction with the Royal Court Theatre in London where their play Candyland was developed. In 2015 a reading of their play Candyland was held at the Market Theatre. Nobantu is a contributor to BrightRock’s Change Exchange webpage where they write about life changing moments. In 2016 they were facilitator for The Zwakala Festival, a Market Theatre initiative to develop community theatre. An ardent feminist they have published essays in My First Time and Living While Feminist.

Nobantu has a BA in Communication Science and Public Administration. They are currently studying a postgraduate degree in Drama Therapy at the University of Witwatersrand.

Nobantu’s piece in Living While Feminist is called ‘A decade of feminism’ and it explores their journey to a new form of feminist identity, as well as a series of haircuts over the years. At the end of the piece, Nobantu says:

My hair is growing, and I do not comb it. I feel the thin areas, the thick areas, the short areas and the few straight hairs that poke out of the forest of tight curls. This is what feminism is like: a vast area fertile for growth with strong parts and waning parts, all growing. In the forest of feminism, identities are formed, nations are built, young women are fierce warriors, continents are bridged, and age is worn proudly like the rings of a tree.

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