Gcina Mhlophe (1958–) is a poet, playwright, director, performer and storyteller. Born in KwaZulu-Natal to a Xhosa mother and a Zulu father, she was influenced by her grandmother’s tales when she was a child, and after starting work in domestic service in apartheid South Africa, eventually became a writer and a newsreader. On a visit to Chicago in 1988, she discovered her gift as a storyteller at a local library in a mostly- Black neighbourhood, where her stories proved more and more popular. After meeting an Imbongi, one of the legendary poets of African folklore, and after encouragement by Mannie Manim, the then-director of the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, she began performing her stories in Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English in Soweto. She was an anti-apartheid activist and acted in socially-engaged films such as Kalushi, about the life of freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu and the multi-award winning film by Aaron Kopp, Liyana.
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