All of me.

My name is Tholakele Antamu. I was born into a life, a country and a world that was not quite ready for me and I knew it from my very first moment of consciousness. I was born in a place I did no know, can not recognise and have not yet been back to. I was given the name Lindiwe, surnameless, mother and fatherless I lay waiting for my new life to find me.

The name Lindiwe, is the female name derived from the Zulu word ukulinda, which means to wait. My name is now Thola, ( Tholakele) which means to be found, (the found one). This is the name I was given by my two white, South Africa parents in early January of 1989. My name is my crown and I wear it with pride like a gold wreath upon my dark chocolate face. My name, Tholakele Antamu Catherine van Speyk Hulbert, tells my whole story. It tells a story of a powerful, stong, elegant woman who was found on the top of a high peak. No one knew how she got there or why she was there but people would always find themselves wanting and wishing that they could join her.

I am Thola Antamu

a freelance performer

Specialising in physical theatre

immersive theatre

political theatre.

A poet,

a singer,

a dancer,

an actress,

a choreographer,

a director,

a clothing designer,

a daughter,

a sister,

a lover,

a niece,

a cousin,

a friend,

a listener,

a joker,

a laugher,

a crier,

a traveller,

a Capetonian,

a South African,

AN AFRICAN

I began my career in performance at the Zip Zap Circus in Cape Town. I was 9 years old, shy, timid and small. I saw the circus perform at Cavendish Square and decided there and then that I had to be a part of all of the wonderful things that I had just witnessed.

So I joined the circus. I learnt trapeze, Spanish web, flying trapeze and finally I toured Europe with a double swinging trapeze act with me as the catcher at 12years old. But most importantly I learnt perseverance, determination, dedication and the will to succeed.

At the Zip Zap Circus I leant the real power of performace. I learnt what it felt like to hold the attention of people, to keep them wanting more, to keep them entertained and fully focussing on you. I learnt how to turn negative attention, glances, questions into positive interactions. People now became more interested in what I did rather than how I spoke or who my parents were.

After Zip Zap, I dabbled in dance classes, go-cart racing and stunt driving. In there somewhere I had a dream to become the next Michael Schumacher or at least a famous drag racer. I eventually finished my 13 years of Waldorf School education which had begun at Roseway Waldorf in Durban, then moved to Michael Oak Waldorf in Kenilworth, then to Stellenbosch Waldorf in Stellenbosch and finally to matriculate at Constantia Waldorf School in Constantia in 2008. I could not have been more suited to any other particular type of Education. Waldorf Education helped and encouraged me to fill my mind with dreams and assperations and pursue them until they were reached. I explored all corners of my mind and was given the time to play with and discover parts of my brain that I might never have known existed had I been in another school.

Fortunately or unfortunately I would never have been able to attend this wonderful place of education had my mother not have been a trained Waldorf teacher.

I am not from a wealth background but my parents made sure we had the best education and the healthiest food.

I began working as soon as I was legally able. I worked every Saturday and Sunday and all through the holidays for my last 4 years of school. I decided at the age of 16 that I would by myself a car for my 18nth birthday . I did, a beautiful 1966 mark1 Ford Cortina with purple racing stripes that glittered in the sun. To keep it running I began selling clothes that I made and designed and began performing my fire dancing act with the Drum Cafe and Afrodizzyacts.

Money has always been an issue for me, but it has never slowed me down or become a hindrance to my goals. I have and will always live by one rule, if you want more, work more and make the quality of work better. Also I have learnt with age that asking for help is not a weakness. Some people have more than others and it is in their power to say yes or no when asked to share.

After school I took a gap year, worked and taught and began toying with the idea of a career in performance . I found The Cape Academy of Performing Arts based in Cape Town and began making enquiries. I was at first heartbroken because I realized that I could in no way afford the amount that was asked of me, but before falling into a heap of teary mess my uncle and aunt gifted me with the full payment of my first year paid for.

After a gruelling 1st year I was offered a bursary by CAPA and stayed on to complete my 3 incredible years of Ballet, Drama, Singing, Tap dance, African Contemporary, Horton, Anatomy and Business studies.

I have subsequently spent 6months in Toronto, Canada exploring the physical theatre styles of Theatre Gargantua and 6 months in London, England discovering immersive theatre with The Artful Badger at the Vaults Festival, embodying Haitian Voodoo dance rituals with Zuszua Parrag and creating some of my own original works for JW3.

I am currently and constantly creating and exploring new works. My new works which are based on an idea I have of Telling Her Story are inspired by the continuous horror and sensationalistic obsession and then disregard of women in South Africa, Africa and even the world. I want to tell their stories. I want to illustrate their silences, their bruises, their blood. I want to imprint their feelings on my audiences and i hope to stay with my audience long after the lights have gone out and the seats are cold and empty.

I am one of the lucky ones.

I am a young black, South african woman who has a family, friends, community that love me and care about how i feel what i say and what dangers might affect my life. I have a man in my life that loves me and respects me and recognizes that i am an individual and that I am independent and beautiful no matter what faults i have.

I am one of the lucky ones.

I speak and people listen.

I cry and someone will comfort me.

I bleed and people worry.

I am clean and warm.

I am one of the lucky ones.

When i say “No!” No one will misunderstand or ignore me.

I am one of the lucky ones.

In my world no will always mean no.

To any woman who is reading this you are most probably a lucky one too.

Help me support the millions of unlucky, dying or dead women out there who deserve happiness just as you do. Let us start the necessary conversations. I will speak about me, my understandings of where I stand in the world, where I stand in relation to others around me. I will speak about my body and the beautiful parts of it that so many have named and shamed purely because they do not know how to love them and can not allow themselves to ask how or learn. I will speak about my skin and the skins of all the incredible people that have been marginalised or segregated purely because of their darker hue. I will speak and I will speak and I will speak. Because I can, because I must, because still I am fighting.

4 thoughts on “All of me.

  1. Hi Thola,
    First and foremost I must mention that you fearlessness is so inspiring!
    There is something I want to discuss with you, please be so kind to give me your email address.
    Thanks.
    -Clenia Gigi

    Like

    1. Hello Clenia, can you find me on twitter or facebook so that I can give it to you privately. On both platforms you will find me under Thola Antamu. I lookforward to hearing from you. Thank youso much for the kind words of encouragement.

      Like

  2. Hey Thola!
    I only saw your reply now!
    I forgot to set the notification to be notified about your response and everything slipped my mind. I’m sorry about that.
    I am following you on Twitter, please kindly follow back so that we can DM.
    Best wishes!
    Clênia Gigi

    Like

  3. Wow. I don’t remember what post caused me to follow you, but I’m so glad it did – especially now having read your “all about me”. I look forward to more dialogue in the future!

    Like

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