GROWING up on the dusty streets of Kwazakhele, Mninawa Mangwani never envisaged himself as an international dancer.
Now, the 33-year-old choreographer dances around the world and is jetting off to France and Australia, where he will be performing in the Memeza Africa production, Mandela in Me.
The 90-minute production celebrates the legacy of world icon Nelson Mandela and promotes Mandela’s message of forgiveness, love, peace and tolerance around the world through music.
“I have been part of [Johannesburg-based] Memeza Africa since 2006. I feel honoured to be part of the production that shows Nelson Mandela’s life.
“I am the choreographer and the only male dancer among females,” Mangwani, who also plays drums in the production, said.
“I have danced overseas before but this one is a bit different as we will be telling the story of the world icon through dance and music.” Mangwani, who described himself as a traditional and modern dancer, spent six months as a freelance dancer in Tunisia.
“During those months, I learnt a lot in Tunisia. It was a good feeling to come back home and share what I learnt.
“As a result during the 2010 World Cup, I was among the dancers who were World Cup activation around Nelson Mandela Bay,” Mangwani said.
And when he is not dancing around the world, he is ploughing back into his own community, teaching Grade 4 and Grade 5 pupils at Ben Nyathi Primary in Kwazakhele traditional and modern dance.
His advice to dancers is simple. “Education is the key because this industry is not easy. As an artist you hustle until you die,” Mangwani said.
Mandela in Me is a fusion of African spirit and culture featuring spectacular vocals, poetry, jaw-dropping African dances and vibrant traditional drums, all in colourful costumes and accompanied by a four-piece band.