Nelisiwe Xaba and Bobby Rodwell

Queen Nzinga 1583-1663 was one of the great women rulers in Africa. A 17th century feminist. Nzinga’s rise to power as a woman of that time was revolutionary. She commanded an army of 10,000 men in the battlefield, fighting against Portuguese domination for four decades. A smart military leader and a visionary, she made Ndonga a safe place for people fleeing slavery and European conquest. Finally, after nearly 40 years Nzinga capitulated, and the Portuguese stole Ndonga, renaming it Angola. Nzinga challenged male dominance and colonial conquest and has inspired African feminists. 

Nzinga looks over her continent …. what have you done? What have we done? What have I done?

  • Genre: Performance Art
  • Format: Audio
  • Duration: 9mins 4secs
  • Language: Soundscape, English
  • Ages: 14+
  • Available From: June 28, 2020
Content no longer available.


Created by: Nelisiwe Xaba, Bobby Rodwell
Voices: Hlengiwe Madlala, Warona Seane
Edited by: Leon Erasmus, Naledi Morobi
Media by: Candida Merwe


NelisiweXaba started her career with Pact Dance Company and later launched her solo career, and began working with a variety of esteemed choreographers, including Robyn Orlin. Since then Xaba has been involved in various multi-media projects, collaborating with visual artists, fashion designers, theatre and television directors, poets, and musicians. Xaba’s seminal works such as Plasticization and TheyLook At Me &That’s All TheyThink have toured to various parts of the world for the past several years. The latter piece, inspired by the Hottentot Venus (Sara Baartman) saw Xaba collaborate with fashion designer Carlo Gibson of Strangelove. In 2008, Xaba collaborated with Haitian dancer and choreographer Ketty Noel to create a duet titled Correspondances – a satirical look into the politics of women to women relationships, which toured to various countries in South and North America, Europe and Africa. Her recent piece, Black!..White? premiered in Paris in 2009. In the same year, Xaba produced The Venus, combining two of her solo pieces, the earlier work They LookAt Me and Sakhozi saysnon to the Venus,originally commissioned by the Musee du Quai Branly. A performance by Xaba Venus in Venice forms part of ImaginaryFact – ContemporarySouthAfricanArtandtheArchive at the South African pavilion exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale. Uncles & Angels a collaboration with Mocke J Van Veuren the acclaimed performance piece gave rise to a stereoscopic film that was awarded the FNB Art Prize in 2013. In 2016 Xaba creates Urban Mermaid performed at the Goodman Gallery 50th anniversary, and in Berlin for the Foreign Affairs festival. Xaba Bang Bang Wo, a direct translation for Help in Mandarin, premiered at the center for the less good idea. In June 2019 she created “Fake N.E.W.S” with three dancers as part of Signifying Ghost in Bonn. Her last collaboration with a Swiss choreographer Marie-Caroline Hominal with the title Hominal/Xaba.

Bobby Rodwell is a Director of mehlo-maya (eye-to-the-sun) and works as a writer, producer, director and documentary film maker. Bobby has written widely for print, radio, theatre and film, and produced a number of plays for stage, and films for broadcast and festivals. Bobby has collaborated with leading South African theatre and film practitioners and producers. She has published theatre scripts and development books. In theatre Bobby’s key interest is in ‘theatre for social change’, and productions include among others: The Story I am About to Tell; flipping the script!; frontieres; The Table; and Lesego Rampolokeng’s fanon’s children and Bantu Ghost a stream of black (un) consciousness, in which she collaborated in the latter with Nelisiwe Xaba for the first time.