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Multi-talented Aicha Mengouchi during her inspired monologue as Maleficent at the Limpopo Eisteddfod gala concert.

Versatile Aicha displays many-faceted character

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Multi-talented Aicha Mengouchi’s star had never shone as bright as it did during her inspired role as Maleficent during the gala concert of the Limpopo Eisteddfod last Thursday evening.
Fourteen-year-old Aicha is a Grade 8 learner at Hoërskool Pietersburg (PHS) and says it is her dream to pursue a career in acting. “But it’s a dream and the reality is that I will probably only be able to act as a hobby,” she sighs pensively.
Her captivating smile flashes back as she shares that she absolutely loves mathematics and will probably choose a career that is maths related such as architecture or engineering. “Or perhaps something to do with children such as teaching because I really love spending time with them,” she adds. She is strong academically and boasts an average of above 80% for her subjects even though English is her first language.
So great is her passion for acting that she entered several categories in the Limpopo Eisteddfod including English and Afrikaans dramatized and formal poetry, Afrikaans dramatised and formal prosa, and English and Afrikaans monologue. “I scored mostly A++, which is a score of 90 – 95%,” she says.
Her monologue as Maleficant, a fantasy film loosely based on the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, during which she curses the baby princess, was one of her performances that earned her an A++ as well as a spot in the gala concert of the Limpopo Eisteddfod. She is also part of the PHS girls choir, which was named top high school choir at the Limpopo Eisteddfod.
Earlier this year she entered the Bosveldkunstefees and was the overall winner in the Afrikaans junior category (Grade 8 to 9).
Aicha has no formal drama or acting training and says the way she prepares is by reading a part and living herself into the role. “It seems to be working very well,” she adds.
Another passion of hers is mountain biking and her favourite is the half marathon, being 35 km. She is currently the top female in the province in her age category and is part of the PHS mountain biking team. “Mountain biking is also our number one activity as a family.” Her mother Erika, a well-known local fashion designer, father Tarik and brother Zino (12) all love mountain biking.
Aicha also enjoys hockey and cricket as well as drawing and painting. She likens her art with meditation and says when she is drawing or painting, she becomes completely calm and peaceful, which allows her to focus on the next task at hand.
Asked what challenges she has being involved in such an array of activities, she says that she wants to do it all. “I think that in itself is my biggest challenge. It’s about how much you push yourself. You have to plan your time carefully and not waste a moment. It makes me feel I am doing something with my life,” she says.
Aicha would love to travel the world to gain first-hand experience of the different art, culture, people, food and sights. Her father is Algerian and the family recently visited his country. “It was fabulous. I loved Algeria! The culture, food and architecture blew me away and the people were so friendly and communicative, like a big family. I can only describe Algeria as being warm and colourful.”
Next on her travel list is Ireland as one of her best friends recently relocated there.
In her limited spare time she loves listening to all types of music especially that of Adele, Sam Smith and Whitney Houston and she also enjoys time with her family.
She draws enormous inspiration from her parents as they support her in everything she does. “God also has a huge impact on my life,” she says adding that the family is Muslim.
Her advice to other young people is “do what you love to the fullest, don’t waste your talents as you are blessed”.

Story & photo: KAREN VENTER
>>karen@observer.co.za