US experience an eye-opener, says award-winning SA playwright

2016-04-07 13:58

Mbombela - Mpumalanga's award-winning playwright Goodenough Mashego has successfully made it to the United States of America where a play of his was being staged.

Mashego was relieved when the provincial culture, sports and recreation department came to his rescue and enabled him to travel to Los Angeles in California on April 1. He spoke to a News24 correspondent while preparing for his return to South Africa on Thursday.

"I am grateful to the department for sponsoring my trip. My experience has been largely an eye-opener. They often say if one does not travel they are same as someone who reads one chapter of a book. The story gets interesting when you read on, and maybe read until the end," said Mashego

"What I have observed is that us in South Africa are more blessed than we realise. We always think the grass is greener on the other side when the contrary is true. True, the American dream does exist, but so does the American nightmare. A few get to experience the dream while the majority live a nightmare."

Mashego said one thing he learned about America is that people followed their dreams, no matter the cost.

"When here one gets a sense that professionals in the arts listen more to one's aspirations and seem to have ideas on how to move ambitions forward. The arts fraternity is closely knit and my thinking is that the secret is to find your way into those circles and from then on everything is possible. Your nightmare easily transform into a dream," he said. 

"What we think small in South Africa can be expanded to big by literary and talent agents here. They see an opportunity to explore where in South Africa talent scouts will see an opportunity to exploit. So, ja, my experience has largely been meeting important people who can see further than most people because they have been to the mountain top."

Mashego, from Bushbuckridge, was one of two Africans who were named among 10 winners of the Saving Endangered Species Int’l Playwriting Prize. The other African is Zimbabwean playwright, Tsungayi Hatitye.

The writer of The Last Show said the trip had also boosted his political viewpoint.

"Being here helps me understand the politics quite better, since the reason the struggle for minimum wage is not supported by most elected officials is because the blue collar workers who need minimum wage are not white; they are either Hispanic, black or of East European descent. So the need for minimum wage does not speak to their core electorate, but overall LA is the city of angels - I still have to see one," said Mashego.

Mpumalanga culture, sports and recreation spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said Mashego has put the province on the map.

"Competing at such a global level through art is a major milestone for Mashego. As the custodian of arts in the province, we are proud to be associated with such brilliant writers," Nkosi said. 

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