Tributes pour in for ‘Bra Sticks’

2018-11-08 06:01
The late Mzwakhe “Stix” Mdidimba

The late Mzwakhe “Stix” Mdidimba

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Mzwakhe James Mdidimba, a doyen of the arts, passed away on Tuesday.

“Bra Sticks” to some, or just “Sticks” to others, Mdidimba(61), will be remembered for his commitment and contribution to the arts in the 1980s, when he was part of the Nyanga East art collective who ran the Nyanga Arts Centre.

Before then he and a group of self-trained actors, workshopped and performed plays such as Hluphekile at the community centres.

From using makeshift stage with self-made props and stage lights in small township halls, “Bra Sticks” and his crew challenged the “white elephant” theatres which were established by the previous regime.

Their breakthrough saw the staging their works at the liberal Baxter Theatre, before they were invited to present these at the staunchly apartheid Nico Malan Theatre, a precursor to present day ArtsCape.

He was instrumental in the formation of traditional dance and theatre groups and worked in all communities.

He has also worked for Street and New Africa Theatre. In 1993 he collaborated with Itumeleng Wa-Lehulere, Andre le Roux and Euodia Samson, amongst others, to start the Buwa Theatre Company, which was housed at the Baxter Theatre. In between his theatre work “Bra Sticks” sung in the Langa Adult Choir.

In 1997 he joined Artscape theatre as a Projects Manager, working with various communities.

His passion for the arts saw him being an active member of the Ikapa Jazz Movement, a jazz appreciation society. He has built a considerable jazz collection, and would spin his favourite vynils at various jazz society groups in Cape Town and nationally.

A staunch Pan Africanist, an activist poet, actor, singer and family man, he has been acknowledged for all his works in the arts.

“Bra Sticks was Mr Jazzma to me,” says Rashid Lombard, a jazz promoter.

“You have moulded most of us in Nyanga East,” says Maxwell Xolani Rani, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town.

“We visited your home in Zwelitsha, jamming, thumping small drums, singing endlessly and you never complained. Instead you would tell us stories and start to play your favourite jazz pieces. After that you would educate us about politics in the arts and your love for the PAC,” Rani added.

Mdidimba is survived by his wife, two daughters and grandchildren.

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