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A note of warm gratitude from Napo Masheane

It’s not often that we as artists take a moment to thank the people who work hard behind the scenes to make it possible for us to grow and hone our craft. It is for this reason I’m sharing this story with you, to show my gratitude to those who have helped me towards realising a dream I had previously thought was unattainable.

As a young girl growing up in rural Free State, I heard the many voices and stories of ordinary people – their pain; their joy; what excited them and what made them wake up every morning to live and contribute to the rich tapestry of storytelling in our beautiful country. It became my dream, from a very young age, to capture these stories in poetry, prose and performance so they will live on through time to be shared and enjoyed by many generations to come.

As an African storyteller, I believe it is my duty to pay tribute to my ancestors, elders and those who are kind to me by fully utilising the resources they have made available in my endeavours to articulate and represent mine and their heritage.

The National Arts Council (NAC) has greatly empowered me in this regard, granting funding for me to fulfil this duty and, in turn, its mandate of developing all stakeholders in the arts, culture and heritage sector to promote transformation and redress, and much-needed social cohesion.

Over the years, the NAC has supported me through my studies in drama at Fuba School of Dramatic Arts (1999 – 2000); my internationally renowned one-woman play, My Bum Is Genetic, Deal With It (2007), which remains one of the major highlights of my life; and in 2014/15, almost 17 years since my first grant, the NAC became my financial rock in pursuing my Master of Arts in creative writing (poetry and drama) at Rhodes University, making me one of the few black African women to complete two dissertations in those fields.

For this, I would like to thank everyone at the NAC and express my warmest and most sincere gratitude for their hard work and dedication, particularly Mr Andrew Nkadimeng, the NAC’s Arts Development Officer for literature. It’s such work that makes it possible for people like myself and many others to live our dreams and reach new heights as artists.

When I received the letter from the head of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes, Dr Stephen Fourie, confirming that I had been awarded my master’s, I recalled the number of occasions the NAC made it possible for me to pursue my passion and realise my dreams.

May this kind of support continue to reach other South African artists. May we also know that the seed you plant should grow and spread to other, less privileged artists with limited access to resources. I am indeed looking forward to many more years of creativity and the empowerment of black women in South African theatre and arts.

Thank you, NAC … Pele e ya Pele

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