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Mabuyane shakes local film industry


BULAWAYO-BORN award-winning playwright, director and producer John Mabuyane is making waves in the film industry.

The self-motivated Mabuyane said the country had talented producers, who struggled to cut their teeth in the film industry due to financial constraints, hence making it hard for their productions to compete at a global scene.

The journey

“My debut in the film industry was in 2017, featuring in the international award-winning movie Gonarezhou. I further challenged myself in the industry, landing roles in movies such as Poor Cousins, The Story of Nehanda, Unwelcome Visitor and Toxic Masculinity, among others.

“My first film that I wrote Scars/Amanxeba won a Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAA) in 2020. I went on to write War Cry, Toxic Masculinity and Umndeni: The Rightful Heir. I do less writing and more acting.”


“Getting a paying gig has always been challenging for many artists in Zimbabwe. The crumb of bread is too small for everyone to bite, hence to stay relevant, people end up being exploited by the so-called ‘zero budget’ productions in the name of exposure.

“This has always been a challenge in the industry and also films being shot and ending in post-production, but the marketing and distribution part is invisible.”

“We really have producers in our country, but lack funding, hence making it hard for the country to compete at a global level.”


“My breakthrough, which is my highlight in my career, was after I was part of the cast for the movie Gonarezhou, alongside award-winning actors like Eddie Santifolo and Tendai Chitima. This earned me recognition from casting directors and producers in the industry.”

Outside showbiz

“Well, I never really have spare time. If I am not shooting, I am writing and if I am not writing, I am rehearsing.

“The only small time that I get out I will be with friends for drinks and I am adventurous too. I love adrenaline, so I make sure I have a trip once I get spare time.”

Life lessons

“I have always learnt to humble myself and master the element of patience.”

Working during the COVID-19 pandemic

“I have been working even during the COVID-19 lockdown. Perseverance and persistence pay. I did Scars/Amanxeba during lockdown with little resources and less movement, but we landed two awards for the film and a role in Poor Cousins. I never stop working no matter what. I breathe and live film.”

COVID-19 lessons

“Life is too short and it is unpredictable. Forgive, be happy, love and spend quality time with the people you love and close to you.

“Above all, work hard and leave a mark. After all, we are just mortar in the hands of a potter. We make choices and choose how we want people to remember us.”

Follow Sharon Sibindi on Twitter @SibindiSharon


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