Buhlebezwe Siwani is a performance artist who uses her body as a medium and site of protest and power. By using her body in her art, Buhlebezwe is claiming her agency and creating her own narrative. As a practicing iSangoma, her body is also a medium connecting her to the world of the spirits. The parallels between artist and iSangoma are closely aligned, often overlapping and informing one another. Through the two practices, she performs the creative and sacred rituals that inform her history, identity, and politics.
“The black female body is always a site for violence and malevolent action, so I needed my own black female body to take the power back! I own my skin, I own my androgyny or femininity.”
“The youth are remembering!”
Buhle Ngaba is an actress, author and storyteller whose creative practice is centered around empowering black women to tell their own stories. She was awarded the Brett Goldin Bursary and will be travelling to study acting at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK this July.
“We share a sense of urgency to change our landscape as young South Africans.”
“Women in Africa are the bone of the continent, they carry and birth the children of the soil and are burdened and shackled with structural inequalities. So to me, if feminism ultimately is the advocacy of women’s rights based on the belief of equality for sexes, then surely feminism does have a home on a continent carried by women.”
DJ Doowap is a live mix DJ who’s influenced by the bass driven sounds from the UK. Having grown up around music it was only natural for her to pursue music as a career. Her 90’s influence and style is evident as she draws from heavyweights such as Boom Shaka, Lebo Mathosa and Janet Jackson.
“I love that artists are open enough to channel messages through them; without art there really wouldn’t be a change in society.”
Jabu Nadia Newman is a director and photographer who has lent her craft to directing music videos and collaborating on photo series and fashion films. She is conscious about the messages she puts forward, ensuring that her creative projects are underpinned by a distinctly African intersectional narrative and speak to topics relevant to the here and now.
“I strive to evoke joy through my art, and to put forward a sense of satisfaction, belonging and meaning for my own life and for others.”
“What I appreciate the most and what gives me tremendous hope in this generation is the fact that we no longer seek to live up to Western ideals and standards. Instead, we want to create our own moral and just society through a new understanding of decolonisation on many levels, and we recognise the need for constant growth and change. We are learning that we need to start thinking about 101 things at the same time and see the connections through different struggles and oppressions.”
Jake Singer is an artist who actively embraces a process of haphazard creation and working with contrasting materials like concrete and steel, plastic sheeting, sticking tape and ice. Through these mediums he probes the notion of permanence and temporality, and contemplates the relationship between history, the present day as well as speculations about the future.
“Be kind, because as the youth of today we are creating the future that we’ll inherit tomorrow.”
Jam That Session is a niche creative platform born through the collective efforts of Cape Town based musicians Andiswa Mkosi and OBie Mavuso. Through the hosting of small scale events and tours, JTS provides a safe, intimate and like-minded space for young, black, aspirant artists and musicians. Although they host the odd big name artist, their goal is primarily to create a space for up and coming musicians to find their feet, hone their skills and network with other artists.
“Music is the instrument we are using as a generation to help change and shape the world that we live in. However, music alone isn’t enough. We need people to engage and to think when they make music or even when they interact with music. When that happens, we see things taking shape.”
“We as a generation are rewriting the South African narrative and we’re doing that through our music, photography, writing, film making − basically any skill we have − we’re using it to change everything that we can in South Africa.”
Kgomotso Neto Tleane is a Johannesburg based photojournalist who focusses his attention on documenting the everyday lives of South Africans. He seeks out authentic stories, with a particular fascination with local taxi industry and taxi drivers – as evidenced in his photo series Zola Budd. A primary aim of his work is to present alternative views in order to combat the negative stereotypes of SA.
“We are part of so much change right now and I think they’ll see us as the generation who sparked that change.”
“For you to actually stand out, you need to create your own work and tell your own truth. Especially if your aim is not just fame and money. It will work out and it will take off. Stay true to yourself and your work.”
Klara van Wyk is a theatre performer who is currently working towards her PhD that focuses on mastering a new form of clowning that’s less about buffoonery and tricks and more about locating the vulnerability within oneself to better connect with the audience. She’s also developed a delightfuly tasteless character called Pretina who shares her thoughts on culture in a new web series whilst negotiating the complexities of growing up.
“I think all art is political. If you make art, the fun and anarchy has to be balanced with a real understanding of what you’re trying to say. I work with cultural issues and issues about fitting in – who we are and the clown not being able to fit in anywhere.”
Mpumelelo 'Frypan' Mfula is the founder of online streetwear store RHTC. Early on, Mpumelelo got switched on to the potential of entrepreneurship and started his online streetwear store with only a couple thousand rands capital. Since then he’s become a passionate advocator of creative micro entrepreneurship and has hosted workshops for young people to show them the potential that different creative careers can offer.
“A lot of us have the same insecurities in our hearts and minds but when we work together and achieve, we cure ourselves so that we can believe in ourselves more and hopefully believe more in our next generation.”
“Love what you do and your ideas enough to make tough decisions that might sometimes feel like a compromise but in fact allow them to grow more.”
Lebohang Nova Masango is a writer, poet, and activist. Currently studying towards a Masters in Anthropology at the University of Witswatersrand, she is putting out both written and spoken word poetry and is part of the local Feminist Stokvel collective.
“We’re creating new ways of being and reimagining this country as one that can accommodate all of us in our different forms, flavours, sexualities and abilities.”
“For me, the lesson is that it is important to have people who love you, support your spirit and reflect the goodness that you want to see more of in the world. In this country that endangers our happiness and our safety every single day.”
Pap Culture is the sassy all-woman trio of content creators Nwabisa Mda, Thembe Mahlaba and Bongeka Masango.. They’re fierce, they’re fun and they’re using YouTube as a platform to create content that truly resonates with young South Africans today. Pap Culture doesn’t shy away from getting to the core of what makes young people tick. On their Youtube channel they discuss heated topics from voting and ethnicity to light-hearted issues like finding a bae and social media etiquette.
“We want to help one another and create a space where we help pioneer youth voices.”
“There is now a surge, or hunger for information that really is true to the situation…and calls out the truth as the truth.”
Rich Mnisi is a fashion designer whose career catapulted after he won the AFI Young Designers Award in 2014. Through growing into his own, he rebranded his then label OATH to his namesake RICH MNISI, which exudes low-key confidence through sharp, gender fluid silhouettes.
“I’m a shy person, so I think I take that shyness and dress it up in fashion.”
“Creatives need to come together and create a network and attack, so people feel the need to buy into local goods as opposed to purchasing international goods first.”
Terence 'Tako' Maluleke is a digital artist, animator and illustrator who draws inspiration from different African cultures for his beautifully expressive work. His strong character depictions empower positive representations of people of colour.
“It’s our generation that has to step up to make things right. So I just hope that my art connects with people.”
“By recognising who we are and allowing it to feed into your work, it will be honest and other people will connect to it.”
Tseliso Monaheng is a writer who holds a great deal of passion for music, art, culture and literature coming out of the African continent and frequently writes on all of these things. Having written professionally since 2007, Tseliso has contributed words to many local publications. His writing, always incisive and engaging, weaves together a cultural zeitgeist of sorts, be it in the form of a review, an opinion piece, a profile, or a simple blog post. Certainly, he is one of the most prolific and insightful writers in the realm of African arts and culture.
“People who are comfortable tend to think that shit like #FeesMustFall’s just a waste of time by brats who’ve nothing better to do. What we all fail to realise, and this is including those at the core of the movement, is that such collective action dents a system built on corruption and lies and deceit. Yes, it won’t fall now because those bastards were fuckin’ […] the system knows and the government knows — that the kids are angry, yes, but they’re also hopeful as fuck!”
Tsoku Maela is an AFDA film graduate who by day works in Cape Town as a screenwriter for the youth show Hectic Nine-9. After hours, Tsoku is a practicing visual artist working in photography. He had his first solo show with 99 Loop Gallery, exhibiting the conceptual photo series Broken Things which deals with the taboo topic of depression and championing an essential message of self-love.
“It’s in the hands of the youth and the youth has the internet and platforms to express themselves without boundaries. Do you realise what that means? Not only more authentic content, but more creative people. More young South Africans following their passions and adding their voices to the culture. Documenting, commenting, shaping and changing perspectives.”
“Mass consciousness and art are playing a huge role in that, too. Hope is contagious. When you see more people like you doing amazing things that impact people’s lives, you believe it’s possible. The youth of today believe and are equipped in knowledge to make that change.”
Nick Mulgrew is a prolific fiction and non-fiction writer and publisher. Last year he started uHlanga Press, which has to date release 3 single-author volumes of poetry by local writers. He’s an associate editor at lit mag Prufrock, as well as the deputy chair of Short Story Day Africa, an anthology of short fiction from our continent and diaspora. Last year he was awarded a Silver BASA Journalism Award as well as named the winner of the National Arts Festival Short Sharp Stories competition.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can accomplish by myself. I would like to help create the means by which more people can come through to literature and destabilise conceptions about what literature is, what is should be, and the role is has in society.”
“It’s important for young people to take up publishing houses, to publish in African languages, to publish different kinds of stories – whether that means abandoning the traditional novel or short story form – or you know, just experimenting and making mistakes…I don’t think it can be summed up. You have to find it for yourself.”