Ben Sibenke (1945) is a Zimbabwean actor and dramatist. Ben Sibenke is a playwright and actor known for his role in the first Zimbabwean soapie drama, Studio 263. He has contributed seminally to modern Zimbabwean theatre.
Sibenke was born in 1945 and he is a former Tafara 1 Primary School headmaster and Studio 263 actor. He is popularly known on television screens as Shereni, he was set to open a talent house to train upcoming actors, script writers and directors. He retired from the education sector last year after 45 years of service. Sibenke said the talent house which is called “Harare Arts Skills” would also cater for local theatre groups, giving them a platform to workshop their productions and get skills on how to run their groups.
He said he had assisted other popular local actors on various projects and he hoped this mentorship would now benefit young actors. Sibenke says he has assisted the likes of Lazarus Boora aka Gringo, the late Mackey “Sakhamuzi’ Tickeys and Simon Shumba, popularly known as “Mutirowafanza” to mention a few.
Ben Sibenke was one of the key figures to emerge from the various church organisations that helped during the colonial era to organise theatrical activities and dram festivals in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). He was a founder member of the People's Company, one of the few indigenous theatre groups in Zimbabwe. He writes in both Shona and English. Among his published works are Chidembo Chanhuwa (The Polecat Stank) and My Uncle Grey Bhonzo (a comedy about the necessity to accept one's culture and roots, and of the need for the stabilising influence of traditional values in a rapidly urbanising environment). Apart from his published playes, Sibenke in 1985 collaborated with Dominic Kanaventi and Walter Muparutsa in the Zimbabwe Arts Production's impressive stagings of Zizwe Bansi is Dead and The Island by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, and Andrew Whaley's Platform Five (a play about tramps on the streets of Harare).