By Tonderai Zvimba
Participating in Sunday School biblical plays, Cedric Msongelwa never thought he would one day find his name among those nominated for the prestigious National Arts Merit Awards (Nama).
Just like many kids, Msongelwa, a talented actor, participated in Sunday school plays. He also took part in school dramas where he would get compliments from other pupils and teachers for his outstanding performance.
Msongelwa who grew up in Makokoba suburb, said his attention at some point shifted to playing soccer at school.
“Where I grew up, soccer had a strong influence as all the boys were supposed to play soccer. I became good at it but unfortunately during one of the matches, I broke my leg and my mother told me to stop playing soccer.”
Msongelwa said he had no option but to rekindle his passion for acting.
He joined the Gifford High School drama club which became his turning point.
“When I was in Form Three back in 2012, I won the best actor prize at the National Schools Drama Competition. This is when I actually realised that I had a gift in acting,” said Msongelwa.
Gifford High School drama club which was directed by Bridget Sayers and Elton Sibanda became one of the best drama clubs in Zimbabwe as it won most of the schools drama club competitions nationally.
Msongelwa also won many acting prizes including those from Iyasa’s Isiphiwo Sami and Intwasa Festival’s Plan high school drama competitions.
“To nurture my acting talent, I joined theatre organisations like Children in Theatre and Television by Nhimbe Trust and Centre for Talent Development by TH Moyo and Raisedon Baya where I learnt a lot of things about acting and theatre.”
Last year, Msongelwa received a one-year scholarship after auditioning for the Actor/Creator Training Programme by Zimbabwe Theatre Academy. That class was required to come up with a physical theatre play and Msongelwa partnered with another actor Ronald Sigeca for a play they named Zandezi.
“As the pioneering class of the Actor/Creator Training Programme, we had to come up with a physical theatre project. We came up with Zandezi, a play that earned me a Nama nomination,” he said.
Msongelwa has also featured in several theatrical plays including Flat Dwellers by renowned playwright Raisedon Baya, Master Harold and the Boys directed by TH Moyo and a short film The Bicycle Thief directed by United States-based filmmaker, Sanele Sibanda.
Reflecting on his Nama nomination, Msongelwa said: “I’ve always wanted to be recognised at such a level and it’s always good to see that there’re people who are noticing what we’re doing. This nomination has really motivated me to work even harder.”
“Whether I win or not, the nomination itself has inspired me and winning will just be a bonus.”
Msongelwa who is inspired by actors like previous Nama winners; Gift Chakuvinga, Zenzo Nyathi, Memory Kumbota and South African actor Menzi Ngubane, said he would love to empower youths who are passionate about acting.
“I want to create more plays and give back to the community by sharing with young aspiring actors the knowledge I have acquired so far,” he said. The Chronicle