Mthabisi Tshuma, showbiz journalist
It’s never easy to leave that thing you love and trade it for something else.
It takes courage and unbridled determination because success is not guaranteed.
There are obstacles to overcome.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple text message like “Makanaka, I’m still waiting for the book”.
From balancing books for 14 years to writing legendary screenplays, this is the life of a larger than life Zimbabwean, Makanaka Mavengere.
She went from walking the streets of Harare to conquering the bustling streets of Johannesburg.
Mavengere in 2016 decided to honor her passion for the creative arts after devoting 14 years of her life to working in accounts.
His passion for the arts now focuses on directing, sound effects and lighting which, in simple terms, is scriptwriting.
She did this for the crème de la crème of productions in South Africa, including SABC 3’s Real Talk with Anele, e.tv’s The Black Door, Mzansi Magic’s DiepCity and seasons 1 and 2 of the eHostella series; and the Meet Melusi series which is on Showmax, among many other productions.
Showbiz Reporter, Mthabisi Tshuma (MT) caught up with Makanaka Mavengere (MM) who shared how she joined the creative industry.
MT: Tell us about yourself.
MM: My name is Makanaka Mavengere.
I am the fourth of five children and was born and raised in Harare.
I have a degree in accounting from Solusi University and worked in the accounting field for over a decade before deciding to make a complete turnaround and follow my passion for writing in 2015/16 .
MT: Can you share the details of your background as a writer?
MM: I knew from my childhood that I wanted to write books but I ended up in finance.
Despite the fact that I worked for top notch companies and was good at what I did, I always felt there was something missing in my life.
I moved from company to company hoping to find the missing piece.
What prompted me to write was a friend of mine who, in 2010, sent me a message saying, “Makanaka, I’m still waiting for the book.
That then prompted me to say, “You know what? I forgot that dream I had of writing this book.
That’s when I decided to start freelancing and later realized that writing and telling stories was what I really loved.
In 2016 I took a leap of faith and well, the rest is history.
It hasn’t been an easy or glamorous journey, but the experience is totally rewarding.
MT: What/what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
MM: I’ve always been a great storyteller.
After publishing Perfect Imperfections, in August 2019 with Black Bird Books, I landed a job as a screenwriter and researcher on one of South Africa’s biggest talk shows, Real Talk with Anele (SABC 3).
It was from there that I made connections that brought me to where I am today.
MT: What were your highlights in the industry?
MM: It’s a very rewarding industry when you see his work on screen.
MT: What challenges did you face?
MM: My biggest challenge has always been trying to prove my worth and get a seat at the table in an industry I had no training for.
MT: Can you describe your style and the subject of your productions?
MM: I always want to tell authentic stories that people can relate to so that audiences can see their lives play out on screen and feel included.
MT: Name the productions you have written for the screen?
MM: Meet Melusi (Showmax); Loving Thokoza (Showmax), Boxing Day (Showmax), DiepCity Season 1 and 2 (Mzansi Magic), The Black Door Season 1 (e.tv), Side Dish Season 2 (SABC 1), Kwa Vilakazi (Mzansi Bioskop), Ubizo Lakhe (Mzansi Bioskop); Vula Vala (Mzansi Magic), eHostella (Mzansi Magic) and Real Talk with Anele (SABC 3)
MT: Have you received any distinctions?
MM: Unfortunately not, but I am very present on my blog (laughs).
MT: Any advice you want to give to up-and-coming filmmakers looking to get into the industry.
MM: They should read scripts, watch TV and keep pushing no matter how many rejections they get.
They must also write.
MT: How do you see the Zimbabwean film industry compared to the South African industry?
MM: The Zimbabwean film industry has a long way to go.
We need to stop trying to tell other people’s stories and tell our own authentic stories that locals can relate to.
These types of productions will be more important and we have to be confident enough to own these stories.
We need to produce films in our local languages because until we own our stories and honor our language and culture, no one else will.
That’s what I think South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana have done.
MT: What needs to be done for the local film industry to develop?
MM: We need to invest more in the arts sector so that actors, musicians and people in the background don’t have to be in financial difficulty.
If it’s done right and people get paid, they’ll be able to hone and perfect their craft and give their 100% because they’ll be full time in their field.
There should be more workshops and artists should be open to collaborations.
As I have said before, as storytellers we need to take ownership of our stories and tell them well to earn the trust of our people, because once we gain local buy-in, the world will buy-in to our stories too. .
MT: When did you leave Zimbabwe for South Africa?
MM: I left Zimbabwe in 2004 and stayed in Zambia for two years, then moved to South Africa in 2007.
I’m here since.
My parents and younger brother are in Harare and I visit when I can.
MT: When was the last time you were in Zimbabwe?
MM: Last year in August for my brother’s lobola.