Naledi Sande: Arts Reporter
Stand-up comedy was for a long time regarded as an anti-establishment tool set to bring down the Government and push for regime change. For Samantha Kureya, breaking into the male-dominated field came as a surprise. Since then she has endeared herself with fans who now regard her as the nation’s favourite female stand-up comedian.Popularly known as Gonyeti, Kureya is a passionate actress, road show artist, comedian and event hostess. She never imagined herself being a comedian because she had always wanted to be a nurse.
“I wanted to be a nurse. I admired their white dresses and I also thought nurses do not get sick,” she said.
Born on September 16, 1986, in Mufakose, she is the first born child in a family of four.
Kureya only realised that she wanted to be in the entertainment industry when she accompanied her mother – who played “Mai Tonde” in local drama “Togarasei” – for rehearsals. “I started acting in 2008 by accident when I was offered a role after I had accompanied my mom for rehearsals. I tried and the producers were impressed,” said Kureya.
Kureya gives credit to Doc Vikela and Lucky Aaroni, who inspired her to take up stand-up comedy seriously.
“I first met Lucky at an audition for ‘Tiriparwendo’, although we did not interact much.
“In 2012, we worked together on a feature film, ‘Two Villages Apart’ and a couple more productions, where we strengthened our cordial relations. I first met Doc Vikela when he came to Bustop TV as a guest.”
Her first stand-up performance was on Doc’s birthday, which she reluctantly performed after being persuaded by Aaroni and Doc Vikela.
“I tried by all means to convince them that I was not ready but they insisted that I should perform. It was however not bad, considering that it was my first time.
Her biggest breakthrough in stand-up comedy was when she performed at the “Let’s Laugh Again” comedy festival which featured renowned Ugandan comedian Anne Kansiime.
The name Gonyeti, which is a Shona moniker for haulage truck, was derived from the role she once had when she was still with PO Box production house.
“The name emanated from one of the skits I did with Boss Kedha and Bhutisi of PO Box.
“The two were refilling the potholes and their aim was to collect money from vehicles but unfortunately no vehicle passed through. They saw me coming and said look at that Gonyeti coming, since I am heavily built, and the name stuck,”
Gonyeti says the experience she got from PO Box comedy production honed her skills in stand-up comedy.
“I enjoyed working with PO Box and the experience was just awesome. Yes, we are now in competition, but we are also brothers and sisters in the sector.”
Kureya believes that the future is bright, adding that she would want to start a charitable organisation and assist the less privileged in the society.
“There are a lot of talented people, who are not able to use their ingenuity because they come from disadvantaged backgrounds. ‘‘I am where I am today because of a helping hand from concerned parties.”
Contrary to the image that Kureya portrays during stand-up comedy of a confident, aggressive and pompous individual, she is very shy.