We speak to Muvhango star Zonke Mchunu who plays the role of Imani on the SABC 2 soapie. She reveals how the current storyline inspired her activism during Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020.

October is dedicated to Breast Cancer awareness. The importance of early screening and regular check-ups are the focus of this life-saving campaign. This year’s theme was “Give Hope. Save Lives” and one person who took this mantra seriously was actress Zonke Mchunu, more popularly known as Imani from Muvhango.

Her character’s storyline couldn’t have been timed better. Imani has gone through a lot in the month of October (dealing with Sechaba’s meddling mother among other things). And the last thing that she needed was for her husband to fall ill with cancer once again.

Zonke Mchunu has used the opportunity to educate women across the country about the threat of breast cancer (and more importantly, about preventative measures that could lead to early detection).

A life-saving storyline

We spoke to the actress in a virtual interview this week. We asked how she was dealing with a year that nobody could have predicted.

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2020 has been a difficult year for artists especially and Zonke expressed her gratitude that she was still standing despite it all.

“Who thought in 2020 we will be speaking about surviving under the new norm…” said Zonke. “Life knows its journey and direction for real. I am grateful that I still have my job, and we’re back to back shooting the new season of Muvhango.”

With just a few days of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020 remaining, Zonke has been hard at work sharing knowledge on whatever platform she can.

We asked what inspired the storyline and her activism in real life and she replied, “Well the writers wanted to take a look and educate about cancer awareness since October is breast cancer month. I have taken into action that this month I speak to the media about the importance of breast cancer. In Africa, I feel as a black woman it is taboo to speak about such, but I consider this and as a serious matter. While Covid-19 is on the rise, let us not forget that breast cancer is still an issue in our societies.”

“I was happy when I saw the script because this is also close to my heart. I want to continue and teach people about cancer safety measures. I want to educate more, especially in rural areas. We need to go deeper in teaching young women and mothers to go for regular checkups or do elf checkups. By doing so we will be saving lives.”

Lessons learned?

Sometimes we learn the most lessons through the art and drama we witness on television.

We asked Zonke if fans had reflected on any new knowledge from the cancer storyline. She said, “[laughing] At the moment They are not happy at all, they are heartbroken and they are not taking it easy. They are just fighting on social media. It’s a mess I tell you. Imani this time is also going through the most emotionally. But let’s stay tuned to SABC 2 Muvhango for a more thrilling drama.”

When asked if it was a deliberate tactic to share knowledge and information during this all-important month, Zonke said, “Well at the beginning of this month I took it to the streets and started to educate people about this disease. We need to fight the sigma by spreading the message more to the people. And not just only this month, but throughout the year. By doing so we will win this together.”

The importance of early screening cannot be understated.

According to medical experts, the most important screening test for breast cancer is the mammogram – a special  X-ray of the breast which can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumour can be felt by you or your doctor.


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