Monday, January 21

Diepkloof delights

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Playwright, actor and traveller Sam Mhangwani's home in Soweto is a playground for his extensive family and musical celebrations .

A place to escape to that feels just like a holiday house is how Sam Mhangwani describes his double-storey, five-bedroom home in Diepkloof Extension, Soweto. The face-brick family home is both a haven for his personal use and for his large family to regroup.

The veteran playwright and actor moved into his dream home with his late wife and seven children in 1991 and has done renovations, adding a second storey and updating fittings.

He says the children have mostly moved out, but the home comes alive once a week when the children and 10 grandchildren all descend on the place to “eat, talk and laugh”.

The downstairs area with the sitting room has rich tones and luxurious textures in leather and glass. An impressive sound system sits alongside a collection of African art assembled from travels abroad.

The open-plan kitchen and dining area feature glamorous fittings with velvet chair covers and marble tiled floors broken by deep-coloured Persian carpets. Two large windows illuminate the staircase, drawing in sunlight.

The open-plan dining room is perfect for big family gatherings. Picture: Itumeleng English/ANA Pictures

“I love big things,” says Mhangwani.

His family members are as ambitious as he is, and he is proud of what they have all achieved. He confesses he enjoys their visits.

Born in Pretoria, the 74-year-old lived in Alexandra and moved to Soweto in 1963. Following success in acting and playwriting, he looked to expand his horizons and moved into event managing. He has now carved a niche in the entertainment/musical celebrations industry.

“I wanted to find myself in anything with entertainment. I love seeing people feeling happy,” says Mhangwani.

He has a string of achievements to his name. The play he wrote, The Unfaithful Woman, spent more than 15 years on the South African theatre circuit.

Mhangwani has also travelled a great deal, gaining experience in the US and Britain.

“I received a scholarship from Cardiff University and while I was there, I was part of the theatre study tour. We travelled around the country, including the Edinburgh 
Festival, expanding my knowledge. I have met many famous people and have been all over the US.”

The bedroom in the Diepkloof house is elegant. Picture: Itumeleng English/ANA Pictures

The next project is set to be one of his biggest ventures when his company hosts the Morateli Tribute Concert on September 2 in Mamelodi, Tshwane. He says they expect 35 000 people for the day.

The second floor of the Diepkloof home has three bedrooms. The main bedroom is en-suite, has a wardrobe area and is the perfect “man’s bathroom”.

He says he loves the shower with a steam option, radio and built-in massagers. The adjacent main bedroom is spacious and elegantly simple. The cream-coloured drapes provide the perfect foil for a sunlight-drenched couch and lush carpets.

A TV room leads onto the large, covered patio area with views of all  of Soweto. Here Mhangwani entertains large crowds, often up to 80 people.

“South Africa is a hot country and we like to be outside. Often friends sleep out here and in summer we spend a lot of time here. You should see this place on New Year’s Eve, when Soweto is lit with fireworks.”

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