Actress Mampho Brescia, popularly known as the scheming and manipulative Iris Zungu, is nothing like the character she portrays on Isibaya. She gives us a glimpse into her childhood in Soweto.
By: Fundiswa Nkwanyana
Pictures: Madimetja Godfrey Tloubatla
1. GLORIFIED BOOKWORM
Mampho shares that her strict parents filled her childhood with books to quench her inquisitive mind, and fill her imagination with big dreams. When she was not reading, she played competitively with her siblings in the yard. “My father insisted that I read history books in my spare time, and that shaped my life in many ways,” she says. Her love for the performing arts started when she frequented the bioscope with her brother to watch Chinese movies. The bioscope was hosted at the Mbuyisa Makhubo Primary School. “I was fascinated by people appearing on the screen, and I loved the escapism that it gave me,” she recalls. Her fascination led her to take part in school plays; this is how she found a home in the acting world where she still is today.
2. RIDING DOWN VILAKAZI STREET
“I was one of the first kids on my street to get a BMX bicycle when I was 13 years old; I was excited!” she reminisces. That excitement led to joy rides with her siblings and friends down Vilakazi Street, that has now become a prime tourist destination. While walking down this street, she laughs as she recalls the times she tried to wonder off the corners and her brother quickly stopped her in her tracks.
3. DIFFERENT CULTURES
When her parents drove her to school, she enjoyed watching the dynamic landscape and vibrancy of the township. “I used to sit by the window and watch as the passers-by exchanged handshakes with affection” she recalls. Living in the township and attending a school in the suburbs made her aware of the complexities of life, and apartheid. The question around her accent started from a young age because the children she played with in the township used to ask why she sounded different. “At times, I used to feel slightly disconnected societally because the schools I attended had a different culture to mine,” she says. Over the years, she has enjoyed embracing both worlds in a holistic and balanced way.
4. MY TOWNSHIP IN 2016
The street that she used to ride her bike on has become a busy tourist spot. “The growth of township tourism and the local economy is really amazing,“ she says. With the continuous growth of Soweto, we look forward to unravelling more of its stories.