Singer and musician Thandiswa Mazwai has made clear her views on the controversial film Inxeba (The Wound), defending it against a slew of homophobes on social media.
Mazwai tweeted last week that she had seen the award winning movie, commenting: “Very good film! It’s about a gay love story entabeni. Beautifully made and delicately placed.”
Not everyone agreed with her, with some responding with blatant homophobia and other arguing that the Xhosa initiation rituals included in the film should never have been shown on screen.
Habana_(B @Ultimate_Critiq) said that the movie “shouldnt have seen the light of day” while Elliott Sedibane? (@Ellsed) wrote, “A gay love story entabeni”…. this itself sending a wrong message about our beautiful initiation school. Disrespectful to our culture.”
Sab_hello? (@j_ntsini) added, with an apparent threat to the filmmakers: “It’s rubbish! Whatever is done entabeni remains there. It’s not meant to be made for movies or something. The fool will pay!”
Mazwai, who was born in a small village in the Eastern Cape, responded: “Are there no gay Xhosa men entabeni? Can a love story not be placed there? Have u seen the movie? I have.”
She asserted the right of LGBT people to tell their stories, no matter where they are set: “Fact: Gay Africans have stories to tell. These stories are as valid as yours or any person alive. Gay Africans don’t have to be invisible4U.”
Mazwai, who has been in relationships with women, pointed out that “people are so homophobic yet so much of what they love about the world is made by gays…”
Inxeba has received critical acclaim around the world but has ignited a firestorm of controversy in South Africa because of its depiction of same-sex attraction within Xhosa culture and of sacred male initiation rites.
AmaXhosa king Zwelonke Sigcawu has even called for the film to be banned for violating cultural sensitivities and traditions. The cast and crew have also been threatened on social media, with lead actor Nakhane Touré subjected to violent threats, including that of being burned alive.
Directed by John Trengove, Inxeba tells the story of Xolani, a lonely closeted Xhosa factory worker who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood.
The film is only being officially released in South Africa next year, but there are some limited screenings in Cape Town and Joburg in the coming days.
During her career, Mazwai has released six albums with the legendary kwaito group Bongo Maffin and two solo albums.