Advocating for justice and understanding through storytelling

Fine Arts, Libraries

- Mandy Suen

Thembie Moyo has dreadlocks with beaded hair accessories and wears gold-framed glasses and a blue dress shirt. She is reading The Games Black Girls Play from the Celebrate Black History Month book display at the Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library.
Thembie Moyo reading The Games Black Girls Play from the Celebrate Black History Month book display at the Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library.

When you ask Thembelihle (Thembie) Moyo who she is, she’ll tell you she identifies as a mother of two beautiful daughters first and as a creative writer second. These dual identities complement how she approaches her work.

Moyo came to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2022 and has been connecting people across disciplines at the University of Victoria ever since. Her UVic journey started as a Visiting Artist in Fine Arts, then she split her time between Fine Arts and Equity and Human Rights (EQHR), and now has a dual role between UVic Libraries and EQHR as a Writer for Creative Action and Digital Content. In her new position, Moyo will action anti-oppression principles through storytelling and art.

“Writing has been my escape from dangerous situations around the world. I want to use my writing to advocate for justice and tell experiences that others are not speaking about. This includes centring stories from women, girls and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” says Moyo.

Since her arrival at UVic, Moyo has developed multiple plays. Her latest work, It’s Just Black Hair, was turned into a workshop production at the Phoenix Theatre in May 2023 with the support of the Department of Theatre's Staging Equality Research Project and EQHR. The play is inspired by conversations with Black and other racialized immigrants about their experiences moving to Canada.

It's Just Black Hair
It’s Just Black Hair actors Divine Mercy Ezeaku & Wendy Magahay. Credit: Leon Fei

Moyo also recently delivered a reading of her play, Unbroken Chains of Ndondo, at Craft Bites International, hosted by the Playwrights Guild of Canada. The story focused on the difficulties of immigrant children navigating their identity as well as the complexities of a parent-child relationship with parent(s) who have a rooted value system from their home country.

“So many new opportunities have opened thanks to the people I’ve met at UVic. There are people here who invite me to events and introduce me to new people. The new people I meet will then say, ‘come be a part of this community project’! It’s nice that I can transfer my knowledge from UVic into the community and from the community back to UVic,” says Moyo.

Moyo is currently finishing a memoir on aspects of her life in Zimbabwe—memories she couldn’t share until now. “Coming to UVic was a breakthrough, a big revelation in my life where I was given a safe space… to express myself as who I am [while] writing about sensitive issues. Of course, people will always question what I create, but I don’t feel like it would put me in danger. Where I am from, writing would put me in deep trouble because of the issues I am sharing,” explains Moyo.

In Moyo’s new role, she plans to support students in developing their storytelling to create relationality and further dialogue on underrepresented lived experiences. This includes organizing more events, workshops and art exhibitions.

Presently, Moyo is the guest judge for this year’s on the Verge Student Writing and Spoken Word Contest. The contest aims to showcase and celebrate emerging UVic student voices with prizes to be won and opportunities to share their work publicly. The themes surrounding the contest are equity, diversity and human rights. The deadline to apply is February 16.

Moyo will also be hosting a student workshop on “Exploring Your Storytelling Voice” at the Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library on March 13.

Supporting articles:

Staging an immigrant experience – Fine Arts

Staging equality, representing change – Fine Arts

On the Verge Contest


In this story

Keywords: administrative, faculty, staff, student life, community, Black history month, diversity, human rights

Related stories