BONGUMUSA ‘Musa’ MASONDO’S story starts in theatre. A place of magic. Every day in making theatre shows, there is a drive to quite literally ‘make the ordinary extraordinary’ – and that is what Musa does. Exceptionally. For over 10 years he has been an integral member of KickstArt Theatre’s technical team based in Durban. And now he and the theatre community are looking for help.
Musa’s work is not directly in the spotlight on stage for the public to acknowledge, but what is clear is that without his skills, theatre shows in Durban would not be of the high standard that they are acclaimed for.
The Durban theatre industry is a relatively small community but definitely one that produces work of international standards. Some in the industry are lucky enough to have full time employment, but for most, like Musa, freelance work is how they survive. Work for Musa one week may be as a scenic artist for KickstArt, and the next as a flyman in a theatre. His days (like all freelance theatre people) vary greatly: he might be up a ladder rigging set pieces, or making props, painting backcloths, pulling ropes (or ‘flybars’ as they are known in theatre) for scenic elements to be used, or sewing away at his machine to create something crazy and magical for a show. His is a physical job that requires him to be mobile and healthy. All too often, sadly, the erratic and unpredictable nature of freelance work does not allow for ‘luxuries’ like medical aid or insurance. Which is where Musa’s story takes a turn, and why he and the artistic community of KwaZulu-Natal are asking for help.
Musa was in a serious road accident on August 9, 2019 in which he broke his right leg and shattered his right arm. He is currently receiving treatment at Addington Hospital, in Durban, where he is still awaiting surgery for both his leg and arm.
The theatre community is rallying to support a family member who is going to need proper care after his surgeries. This care will involve wound care, crutches, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. What is clear is that Musa needs time to heal properly. Friends are also trying to raise the funds to cover basics like accommodation and food for at least four months whilst he gets stronger.
Friends and colleagues of Musa’s speak highly of his personality and talent. Jackie Cunniffe, the Director of the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, says, “Bongumusa has been a regular freelance crew member for many productions staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, and has always impressed me with his friendliness, politeness and willingness to help whenever called on. He shows great potential, has a variety of skills, and the growing support shown at this time of need, is testament to his good character.”
Greg King, Artistic Director of KickstArt Theatre, says, “When you meet Musa, you might think he’s just a chillaxed Durban surfer dude. But beneath his mop of braided hair and mild-mannered, laid back personality, he’s a multi-skilled, creative young man with an exceptional sense of humour. When Musa laughs at a joke, you can’t help laughing with him. We’ve been working together building sets and props for KickstArt Theatre shows for over 10 years now, and his skill set and knowledge of theatre craft has increased as quickly as I am losing my marbles, which makes him an indispensable member of our tiny team,” adding, “I can’t imagine how we’ll manage in the workshop, unless he makes a full and speedy recovery.”
Close friend and Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Dance 2018 Musa Hlatshwayo says, “Apart from the fact that the accident happened while I was still waiting for him to give me my lesson and a ride on his bike as he promised, I want him to get better soon because he really is a cool guy. I have always enjoyed staging work at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre as part of Jomba Dance Festival because of people like Musa. He must just get better and come back and fulfil his promises to me and the rest of the arts community that he continues to impact through his cool energy. So, come on, boykie! Get better and come back soon!”
PAY IT FORWARD
YOU can assist Musa as he is on his road to recovery. A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to highlight his story. Go to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/bongumusa-masondo to donate. You can also follow his story on Facebook by going to https://www.facebook.com/bongumusaswarriors/
Photo credit: Nathan Kruger