Feela Sista

The Feel a Sistah! Spoken Word Collective

The Feela Sistah! Spoken Word Collective formed in March of 2003 to give voice to positive black women. These poets address critical social issues, talk to god, openly speak of love and sex and celebrate the joy of Africa. Lebo Mashile, Napo Masheane, Ntsiki Mazwai and Myesha Jenkins offer a fresh and inspirational insight into the minds, hearts and spirits of black women today. What has emerged from this bold initiative is an ever-expanding community of individuals who are drawn to conscious, critical, provocative, fulfilling, and enriching "entertainment". People come again and again to find food for their souls.

They are a phenomena! Women and men, rastas and professionals, black and white, college professors and middle aged journos pack venues to scream and shout, cry and whisper at the message of these Sistahs! Their performance of "This is Not An Intellectual Experience" is a captivating journey through the lives of four unique women. The 90-minute show brings together their very different points of view, styles, and visions, yet is united by themes common to humanity. Their influences range from jazz to hip-hop, from praise songs to modern literature. In "Every Child, My Child", Mashile envelopes the audience in a rhythmic play on words while calling for social responsibility. In "Hey Black Girl!", Mazwai playfully calls on women to reclaim their bodies and love who they are. In "Revolutionary Woman", Jenkins praises international freedom fighters and women of courage, and in "Harambee!" Masheane reveals the identity of God.

In the months since their formation, Feela Sistah! have sold out shows at Kippies, Bass Line, at the Grahamstown Festival and the Women's Arts Festival and have performed for the Gauteng Legislature, National Prosecuting Authority and the Steve Biko Foundation. The Sistahs have a diverse public appeal. That Feela Sistah successfully crosses genres is evident in their radio interviews and performances on Kaya, Metro, SAFM and YFM. They have also appeared on Morning Live, Morning Edition, Take Five and One.

Napo Masheane a twenty-six year old, playwright, stage director, actress and drama teacher. She is currently the Artistic Director of Kalaneng Art Tracks, a community organization that runs theatre development and cultural exchange projects between South African and American children. In the past four years she has been involved in empowering young, up-coming artists by encouraging them to use performing arts and art as a means of communication. She is a proud mother of one, and a true and reliable friend. She finds fulfillment in performing her poetry and monologues.

Lebogang Mashile is a twenty-four year old who writes to illustrate her feelings about negotiating identities that have been constructed to describe, contain or free who she is. As a performer, she has been blessed to share the stage with Pops Mohammed, Don Mattera, Keorapetse Kgosotsile, Lesego Rampolokeng, PERM, Saul Williams, Stacey-Ann Chinn and Ursula Rucker. Her writing has appeared in Chimurenga. She has recently scripted and performed in Roses and Angels, a groundbreaking play focused on mental illness. Lebo is currently putting together a collection of South African women's poetry that can be used as a foundation for exploring life-skills.

Nontsikelelo Mazwai, twenty-two, was born in Pimville, Soweto. Young, strong spirited and artistically gifted. This young writer is inspired by her own experiences, loves and losses and writes to release 'fire building up.' As conceptualist and managing director of 'The House of Mobu,' she has been a part of the creation of extraordinary beadwork; produced shows incorporating fashion, music and poetry using African culture as a source of celebration. Motivated by continuous knowledge of self she performs to inspire young women to be free within themselves.

Myesha Jenkins is passionate about all things cultural and struggles to live in spirit. She is known for poems with titles like "Green; Sleeploving and That Good Stuff." Her poetry has appeared in Timbila, Botsotso, Kotaz, and in the magazines, Tribute and True Love and the City Press, LifeStyle. She has also published in Insight: Six South African Poets available from Oct 2003. Myesha works in community development and can be found in jazz clubs, bookstores and friends' kitchens in and around Jozi. She is an African American who immigrated to South Africa from San Francisco in 1993.