New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
Map Africa

Written by Emily Bucker, Fall 2016 Communications Apprentice
Mother Africa: My Home takes place in the South African township of Khayelitsha. In the Xhosa language, Khayelitsha literally means "new home," inspiring the show's title. South Africa is often referred to as the "rainbow nation," a term coined by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe the country's multicultural diversity. The performers in Mother Africa come from five different African countries, so, in a way, they represent their own version of a "rainbow nation." 

In this show these different countries, languages and cultural backgrounds come together to create a beautiful, engaging piece of theatrical magic. In honor of the Mother Africa: My Home cast, we're highlighting their five, diverse home countries. Follow along on our geographical journey with the map to the right!


Mt. KilimanjaroSimilar to the United States, Tanzania prides itself on being a cultural melting pot. Its population consists of over 120 different ethnic groups; yet there's very little friction between people of different groups or religions. Tanzanians are known to be very peaceful, tolerant and respectful. Children are taught to greet their elders with the phrase "shikamoo," which means "I hold your feet." Adults even address strangers as "dada," meaning sister, or "kaka," meaning brother.

It’s also home to one of the most famous landmarks in the world! Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest point in Africa, stands at a staggering 19,341 feet. That's like stacking 13 Empire State Buildings on top of each other!

Dominant Languages: Swahili, English (126 languages total)
Learn Swahili: ngoma | in•go•mah — dance


Coffee Production in EthiopiaFor many people in the United States and around the world, coffee is a morning staple. However, many people don't know that the coffee plant was first discovered in Ethiopia! In the 9th century, an Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi noticed his goats "dancing" after eating the berries from a certain plant. That plant later became known as coffee after the Kaffa region of Ethiopia where Kaldi lived. Coffee is still one of Ethiopia's top exports today!

Dominant Language: Amharic (90 languages total)
Learn Amharic: ሙዚቃ | moo•zeek•uh — music


The ability to read and write is a joy that most of us take for granted. Unfortunately, only about 63% of people in Africa have this ability. The Zimbabwean government has recently made reading and writing the country's top priority. Their literacy rate has grown by leaps and bounds since 1980 when public schools in their country became both free and mandatory. Now, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa: Almost 90%!

Dominant Languages: English, Ndebele, Shona (21 languages total)
Learn Shona: kusiyana | koo•see•yah•nuh — diversity

Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast Fashion Week
Paris, France isn't the only place where fashion thrives! The capital of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, is a fashion hotspot. All of the latest styles are showcased in trendy boutiques lining its busy streets. Abidjan also hosts various fashion trade shows including Ivory Coast Fashion Week, which attracts young African designers who consider it the prime location to present their work to the public. The international attention garnered by these events has made Ivory Coast the fashion capital of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Dominant Language: French (83 languages total)
Learn French: célébrer | ceh•leh•brair — celebrate

South Africa 

Sports are a way of life in South Africa. Rugby, cricket and football (or soccer) are among the most popular. In fact, South Africa's the only country other than England to have hosted the world championships for all three of these sports. You might remember that South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It was, in fact, the first African country to have that honor!

South Africans at their World Cup!

Khayelitsha, the township from which this show derives its name, is the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. Sadly, it was established as an "apartheid dumping ground" in the 1980s. The town is overpopulated and suffers from extreme poverty, poor community infrastructure and high crime rates. Still, the cast of Mother Africa: My Home has risen above these hardships to create a piece of theater that celebrates their culture and humanity. 

Dominant Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu (34 languages total)
Learn Xhosa: inkcubeko | een•ku•beko — culture
Emily Buckner Emily Buckner is an apprentice in the communications department at The New 42nd Street where she has spent the fall learning how to bring her #LoveOfTheater to the masses through social media, marketing and PR. She is majoring in Dramatic Arts and English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in her home state of NC. She loves musical theatre, sunshine, netflix, mexican food and her cat "Cookie Dough."

New Victory Thumb Experience the excitement of Mother Africa: My Home and see this "rainbow nation" come together to create a circus spectacular.  Get your tickets here!

Posted by Beth Henderson

Noluyanda Mqulwana, Nolly for short, grew up in the township of Khayelitsha near Cape Town in South Africa. Growing up, Nolly saw that many of her neighbors didn't have a plan for their future. To give herself something to work for, she began studying ballet with Dance for All at the age of nine. She knew that dancing would give her the strength to avoid the pitfalls of her peers, but she never imagined the adventures she would find on this career path!

Now, she's coming to New York City to dance in Mother Africa: My Home with a company of dancers, musicians and acrobats from all over Africa! We spoke to her about her inspiring journey...
Noluyanda's Headshot
1. In your own words, what was your childhood like? 

Coming from a disadvantaged community, I had nothing to do after school. A lot of my peers didn't care about the future ahead and sat around, doing nothing. Because of this and other bad influences, many sadly fell victim to HIV.

Even at a young age, I knew dancing would both keep me busy and give me strength to avoid getting involved with the wrong crowd.

2. Can you describe the moment when you first fell in love with dance? 

I fell in love with dance when I was about nine. I was always an active kid who liked playing sports, so when I heard that my school would offer dance classes, I got very excited! I really did fall in love at my first lesson.

I was so enthusiastic when I started that I constantly wore my ballet slippers so I could practice all the time!

3. How would your life be different if you weren't a dancer? 
I wouldn’t have been as disciplined or driven as I am today. Also, if I didn’t have dance, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school. Since I was raised by a single parent, I would’ve started working at a very young age to help my mother. I still had to work to help support my family, but I was able to both go to school and work as a dance teacher. 

4. What is it like to be a dancer in such a large circus troupe?

Since I come from a classical ballet background, it’s a totally different world for me. Even the music and scenery on the stage are different! It’s been incredibly fun to go from the technical world of ballet to really "get down" with a type of dance called pantsula.

Another big difference is the amount of stamina involved. I used a certain amount of energy as a ballet dancer, but Mother Africa requires a lot more. Cardio needed to become one of my passions, too. I thank God every day that I’m able to be a diverse dancer!

5. Which act in Mother Africa: My Home is your favorite to watch?

Nolly DancingHonestly, all of them are my favorite, because each artist works with such focus and discipline. If I had to pick, I’d choose the smaller transition moments between each act. In these few minutes, the artists are challenged to find and connect with the idea of "home." When the transitions happen, these artists are given a freedom to move creatively, which helps the whole production grow.

6. When did you start traveling? Do you have a favorite place you've been to?

I started traveling when my professional career was just starting, at seventeen years old. It’s been a dream come true!

It’s hard to have a favorite place. Ever since I started traveling, I've always liked to stay in a country long enough to learn as much as I can about it. Then, if opportunities arise, I move on to the next one. However, Germany stole my heart five years ago, and it’s still my home to this day. So, that would have to be my favorite place... for now!

7. Why do you think it's important to teach kids about dance? 

Back in the day, dancing was ignored since most people didn't think you could make much money as a professional performer. Today, kids have the opportunity to choose something that might not be the most conventional way to earn a living, but gives them joy and happiness. Even if kids don’t pursue dance professionally, it keeps them healthy and teaches them a lot of principles like dedication and discipline. 

8. What's your favorite form of dance?

All dance forms are my favorite! I live my life through movement and, because of that, I have to be ready for all kinds of styles... and I love each and every one.
New Victory Thumb See Nolly in action at Mother Africa: My Home. This exciting circus spectacular runs from now until January 1st. Get your tickets here!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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