Visually-impaired actress breaks barriers

HARARE - An actress is getting ready to perform in a local production of the play Narratives of the Dark, and there’s one thing that distinguishes this talented woman from other actresses — she is visually-impaired.

Edith Masango, 25, is an actress in a one-woman theatrical production that opened in Theatre in the Park on Thursday written by Major Special Matarirano and directed by actress-cum-director Eunice Tava.

She recalled her journey into theatre to the Daily News on Sunday.

“I remember that I was at a local radio station trying to do a voice-over and met two ladies who were into acting. I told them that I really wanted to try out acting and they promised to contact me if they found a role I could fit in,” she said.

“They later referred me to a man who had a role that wanted a blind lady. When I contacted him, he advised me that he wanted the person who was going to play that role to be trained by me.

“We went to my bus stop because he wanted to see how I manage on my own and after that, he gave me the role instead.

“It turned out that was Nigel Munyati, the founder of Zimbabwe International Film Festival (Ziff).”

She featured in a short film titled The Collector — which was a story about a visually impaired female painter whose mother and grandmother clashed over religious beliefs.

“After the short film, everyone was interested in me and that was how I got a job as a receptionist there (at Ziff),” she recalled.

This Thursday, Masango opened her solo show at the Theatre in the Park to rave reviews.

She said it was a great opportunity to show that there is nothing visually impaired people cannot  do, adding the play was “a mirror of my own life.”

Paywright Matarirano, who co-produced the play with Rooftop Promotions, is happy with the way Masango justified his decision to make her the fulcrum of Narratives from the Dark.

“Edith has a strong conviction to do good for her life and that of her family. I see a fighter; her mentality is different from others. So that is why I had to cast her and propel her as a protagonist within the country as a person living positively with disability,” Matarirano said.

Masango never sits in a corner and complains about her condition. She couldn’t ask for anything more.

At the Ziff, Masango manages her work at the reception like any normal person and has installed software that assists her to convert word into speech.

“I have software called Job Access; it is a voice that will be talking to me, guiding me. I can make appointments for fellow workers and also use Internet. I was also trained to use the switchboard and a number of other skills during rehab at Dorothy Duncan Brail Library,” Masango said.

“Growing up, I had always wanted to become a gynecologist or any other profession that involved taking care of women but all that crumbled when I lost my sight. I sat in denial for a very long time and even became suicidal but later got encouraged after hearing successful stories of other people living with a similar condition.”

Masango, a proud mother of one, said she is confident the world hasn’t seen anything yet. She expects  to continue wowing audiences into the future.

She recalls in 2012 when she went through labour. She did not realise that those were her last moments of having full eye sight.

She delivered a bouncing baby but sadly lost her eye sight. She succumbed to retinis pigmentosa — a rare, genetic disorder that involve a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina — which is the light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

She regrets she never got to see her son.

She struggled to accept her new condition and gave up on life after her husband divorced her because she had gone blind.

“I was born with poor eyesight and night blindness and started using spectacles when I was eight-years old to help me see things that were far from me,” Masango told the Daily News on Sunday.

“I separated with my husband because he said he could not handle living with a blind person. It has been five years but he has never come back to check on his child. I never got to see my son and that is one thing that hurts me.

“…some of my family members tell me that he (my son) is dark and try to describe his features and who he took after, but still I want to see him. It was difficult for me after going through all those pregnancy hormones and labour pain that I never got a chance to lay my eyes on him.”

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