"It's the new urban reality...a gospel saint of the clubbing scene,
a preacher of reconciliation through pop-culture,
a slam poet, a rap star, a rock star."
- Suzy Bell, CAPE TIMES
"No Lip-Synching, No Impersonation,
everything is live,
proud and personal. "
- Nadine Botha, DESIGN INDABA Magazine
“Odidiva, the hyper-talented MC of the evening—
at turns a shaman, a seductress, the high-heeled
glamazon break dancer, then the soul-man—
Odidiva must come to New York and do a solo show! “
- The New York Theatre Review, January 2014
Odidi Mfenyana received a career-defining break, “discovered” singing karaoke in 2001 by South Africa’s enfante terrible of theatre, director Brett Bailey.
In his 2001 musical satire BIG DADA – The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, Brett Bailey created ODIDIVA inspired by Grace Jones, Shirley Bassey and South African pop provocateur Brenda Fassie.
Odidi Mfenyana began his career in the arts and entertainment industry in 1994 at the age of 15, under the mentor-ship of Sybil Sands and her artist agency.
He worked on various commercials, professional theatre productions and television programmes till he graduated from High School.
But not before forming a rock band with classmate Jesse Langeman brother of award-winning Music Producer James Langeman. The band, called SPARE MARY, from 1996 – 2001 managed to secure national exposure with a respectable following fortuitously consisting of peers from more established bands of the now iconic 90’s Rock Era Springbok Nude Girls, Sons of Trout, Nine and Fetish.
Having landed a regular guest role in SABC sitcom Double Shift, shooting in Cape Town, Odidi Mfenyana, opted to forego his acceptance to Rhodes University in favour of The Waterfront Theatre School. By the time he’d graduated from the Cape Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1999, Odidi was respected as one of a select group of young actors on the rise.
Along with contemporaries Zolani Mahola (MTV Europe Award Winners - Freshlyground), Brenda Nxoli (Home Affairs SABC1), Brett Goldin (MTV's Crazy Monkey), Matthew Wilde (Rocky Horror Show The Fugard Theatre Director) Rolanda Marais (SABC 3 Kings Casino) Mfenyana was in the whirlwind of the cultural revolution and zeitgeist swept in by 1994’s democratic dispensation.
As a Radio Present on UCT Radio 1999 - 2002 Odidi Mfenyana interviewed top international Dj's and and began his long collaboration with the Out in Africa Gay & Lesbian film Festival interviewing guest filmakers. This began Mfenyana's social activism earnest.
The chance meeting with Brett Bailey in 2001 was a breakthrough built from momentum gathered over years.
In 2004 together with Third World Bunfight Theatre company, a unique theatre extravaganza was conceived, HOUSE OF THE HOLY AFRO.
Coming of Age
House of the Holy Afro was a popular and critical success touring over 15 international cities in 3 continents between 2004 and 2013. A star vehicle firmly establishing Odidiva as The African Queen.
In 2014 Odidiva was curated to the Infecting The City - Public Space Arts Festival in Cape Town. Taking over the front stairs and facade of the South African National Art Gallery Odidiva introduced the world to Bushwaacking.
Invented by Odidi Mfenyana Bushwaacking combines African Urban Streestyle dances with American genre called Waacking but better known as Voguing. Prior to performance an intensive 6 week conceptual dance educational programme was applied to the trainees of Jazzart Dance Company, under choreographer Nkosnathi Sangweni and creative director Odidi Mfenyana.
To end off 2014 Odidiva became the first international guest to be curated by Adelaide's 16 th Annual Feast Festival of Gay & Lesbian Arts with his solo show BUSHWAACKING #BlackGayLovingInAfrica.
Over the following 2 years Odidiva would become the only representive of the African continent featuring and contributing amongst the world top drag performers in two publications
and a 6 page career retrospective in
In 2017 Odidiva curated by internationally renowned and award winning Visual Activist Zanele Muholi and Rosa-Lee Goldberg Creative Director of PERFORMA 17 New York Bienalle, lead an entourage of Queer South African Artsists to performances all over New York City culminating at the iconic Stonewall Inn, birth of the Gay Pride movement Wednesday 8 November, a sold out, one night only, exclusive engagement.
On his return Odidi Mfenyana then convened the first performance event at the newly opened architectural landmark, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, the world’s largest collection of Contemporary African Art.
The event commemorating International Human Rights Day called, SISONKE – A Celebration for the Love of Unity in Diversity was curated by Sakhi Gcina, Assistant Curator of ZeitzMocaa’s Curatorial Lab.
The programme featured a multi-disciplinary delegation of 8 LGBTI Capetonian Artists. Odidiva was Master of Ceremonies highlighted by Keynote Speaker, Zanele Muholi with special mention of ZeitzMocaa Head Curator Greg Coetzee, in attendance and visibly moved to tears.
DESIGN INDABA British High Commission Banquet in honour of Sir Terence Conran & Oswald Boatang (2003)
The VIENNA LIFE BALL (2005)
The FACE OF AFRICA Final broadcast live worldwide, Sun City, South Africa (2008)
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM Closing Banquet HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA for The FIFA World Cup Davos, Switzerland (2010)
The inaugral NELSON MANDELA DAY LEGACY GALA DINNER & AUCTION hosted by The Nelson Mandela Foundation (2011)
THE T.A.C. (TREATMENT ACTION CAMPAIGN) BENEFIT with Guest of Honour Ruby Wax, Cape Town, South Africa (2012)
MIX TA RACE #4 WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL, Divan du Monde, Paris (2013)
FEAST GAY & LESBIAN ARTS FESTIVAL, Adelaide Australia (2014)
Launch of Anova Health / Elton John HIV Foundation "WE ARE THE BRAVE" National Campaign, Johannesburg (2015)
QUEERS IN AFRICA Symposium: Cape Town Opening Night Session, District Six Museum, Cape Town(2016)
Performing at STONEWALL INN, PUBLIC-ARTS, BRONX MUSEUM OF THE ARTS, BRONX ACADEMY OF ARTS & DANCE, LESLIE LOHMAN MUSEUM OF LGBTQI ARTS AND YANCY RICHARDSON GALLERY for PERFORMA'17, New York City, USA (2017)
Ambassador for the Anova Health Institute & Elton John Aids Foundation national campaign for M2M sexuality in South Africa (2015 -2016)
Only Africa representative in Jeza Belle's "The Harlot's Guide to Classy Cocktails" among 27 international Drag Queens (2014)
Convener and Headline Entertainment, TREATMENT ACTION CAMPAIGN (T.A.C.) BENEFIT with special guest of honour, Ruby Wax (2012)
Executive Board member of CAPE TOWN PRIDE (2007- 2010)
Spokesperson for the DESMOND TUTU HIV FOUNDATION (2009)
Spokesperson for GAY FLAG OF SOUTH AFRICA (2012 – 2013)
Co-writer and Performer of Title Theme for SIYANQOBA/Beat It - lifestyle television programme for people living with HIV, broadcast globally ( 2005 – present)
Music Producer, Stylist & Performer for “STRANGE FRUIT” by Jack Lewis Public Service Announcement on Hate Crimes and Xenophobia in South Africa (2009)
Press / Media Links:
- Drag with A Degree INKANYISO interview by Zanele Muholi
- Public Art Review of The Homecoming Ball: BUSHWAACKING Infecting The City 2014
- Contributor in Ford Foundation sponsored research article for Seattle Times on LGBT South Africa
- Afro is African FACE OF AFRICA Finale, Sun City 2008
- Strange Fruit PSA Against Hate Crimes & Xenophobia 2009
- BUSHWAACKING The Making Of…2014
- Arts & Entertainment Consultancy EVOCATIVE innovation
- Adelaide Now, The Advertiser daily newspaper
The African Queen
21 morton Rd, Plumstead Cape Town South Africa