My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him is celebrated and multi award-winning poet, playwright, director and producer Napo Masheane’s latest production which was recently staged at both the Joburg Theatre and Soweto Theatre respectively.
Described as a ‘choreopoem-play’, the term ‘choreopoem’ was first coined in by American playwright Ntokaze Shange to describe her seminal For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf – thus a choreopoem is a theatrical or dramatic expression which combines dance, music, poetry and song. Napo Masheane’s My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him not only fits into this characterisation but also expands it through the addition of theatrical vignettes which make the whole production a rich and multi genre-encompassing narrative.
Following her other unapologetically titled productions such as My Bum Is Genetic Deal With It, KHWEZI… Say My (Her) Name’ and The Fat Black Women Sing, Napo Masheane stated in an interview with local radio station that she deliberately names her productions for what they are because she does not want her audiences to ‘second-guess’ what they are going to watch or experience. My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him is on one part a defiant stance and statement, and as well a form of a question (perhaps rhetorical) but one which still demands to be answered as the central character repeatedly asks it at the grave of her husband who has passed away.
The production draws sharp focus on femicide, gender-based violence, rape and multiple atrocities womxn go through at the hands of MEN and it does not geographically confined itself only to South Africa but the rest of the African continent and beyond showing how these horrific acts do not stop at the land borders as they do not need passports or visas – this is what her calling out of countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo which has been called “the rape capital of the world” previously and other war-torn states where rape has been used as a weapon of conflict.
Through popular songs, recognisable and familiar dance moves, hard-hitting poetry verses and expertly selected music My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him draws the audience in and asks them to question their own attitudes towards gender based violence, rape and femicide.
My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him is not only a lamentation but a call to action for the statistics given for each of the African countries stated in the production are nothing short of catastrophic yet little or no decisive action has been taken place something further exacerbated by the lack of political will. The solutions of course will not only come from governments or NGO’s but will need to be from the ground where men (like myself) become accountable, call themselves out and also call out other men because relegating it to a ‘women’s issue’ is simply an inconvenient excuse which needs to be debunked with the contempt it deserves.
My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him was not only the theatrical production audiences witnessed but during the run-up to its launch the organisers ran a campaign where ordinary women from all walks of life donated their bras which formed part of a public installation mounted outside the two venues but which also became a key component on the stage set-up. This powerful campaign brought more attention not only to the production but further highlighted in real terms how rape, gender based violence and femicide continue to affect women from all walks of life.
My Vagina Was Not Buried With Him written by and featuring Napo Masheane and directed by Clive Mathibe was on at Joburg Theatre from 19-21 March 20 and at Soweto Theatre from 24-26 March 2021.