Nompumelelo Nobiva - Founder of 'Share Your Story, Inspiring Courage' campaign and Motivational Speaker

P-hive Minutes with Nompumelelo Nobiva

Nompumelelo Nobiva - Founder of 'Share Your Story, Inspiring Courage' campaign and Motivational Speaker

Nompumelelo Nobiva – Global Empowerment Speaker and Founder of ‘Share Your Story, Inspiring Courage’ campaign

I don’t think you understand how incredible you are. You come from hardship and sorrow, yet you know what joy is; you strive for it. Somewhere deep inside of you, you wait, weaving your plans together with calculated patience until the moment comes right. When it does come, pounce on it, with both eyes set on claiming your throne that you’ve worked so tirelessly to achieve. Don’t hold back your dazzle because of some imagined fear that has immobilised you for so long. You are majestic and undoubtedly powerful and the struggles you’ve overcome should only prove this.

Nompumelelo Nobiva experienced what pain and loss felt like when she lost her mother to AIDS when she was just 9 years old. With her grandmother, as her supporter and anchor, she strove on when opportunity presented itself through education. She became one the young ladies who were selected to attend the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. She didn’t waste the opportunity and simply soared. Ten years later, she’s well on her way to completing her Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications at High Point University in the United States of America.

I spent P-hive Minutes with Nompumelelo Noviba; an inspirational young woman who takes pride in sharing her story and her success and empowers those who seem at a loss; to learn, love and redeem themselves through their purpose.

Nompumelo Nobiva

Describe your experience as one of the girls that were chosen to be a learner at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls?

The experience of being part of the school was life-altering and just to have had that level of opportunity was amazing. When we arrived at the academy, we were addressed as leaders and were presented with opportunities throughout our time there. It was beautiful to grow as a woman, a leader and as a sister with all the other girls. I excelled academically. Before I joined the academy, I was a well-rounded student but when I graduated I became academically strong.

Have you and Oprah sat down and just talked over a cup of tea? How is your relationship with her?

Oprah, the girls and I spent time together at least over ten times. She’s a person who really cares, so whenever she came to the academy she made time for us. We talked about everything; from life to boys, school and leadership, empowerment and work. She’s inspirational and allows us to be ourselves. With her, each time spent with her gets better. I’ve had a tremendous time getting to know her. It’s a personal and private relationship she has with the girls. She shares her time with all of us.

Oprah Winfrey and Nompumelelo Nobiva

How would you describe yourself and your life before you became a learner at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls? Would you say your life has transitioned since then?

I’ve always been ambitious and optimistic about life but opportunity wasn’t as accessible as it was when I was at the academy. We were allowed to try different things, to travel and listen to different speakers deliver talks. Becoming a part of the school brought out what was already there, we just needed a form of support, structure and it cushioned us. I loved being in that space because I was able to heal through different things and grow as a young woman. We were required to stretch and push across boundaries, to challenge ourselves and to interpret failure as not a mistake but as a way of learning and moving forward in life. We had the best of everything and we made the best of it. It was a purely transformational phase.

You launched an international empowerment campaign titled “Share Your Story, Inspiring Courage”; how did this idea come about and how long has it been running?

I launched the campaign in June last year, when I was working in Cape Town as an ambassador for an organisation called Relate Bracelets. They support over 65 causes including; malaria, cancer and AIDS. It was an honour to be part their organisation because they have a transparent business model that empowers the people who are part of it as a third of what they make goes into their pockets from the bracelets they make. The campaign is not about AIDS, that’s just my story. There are so many other stories that should be told for the better good, in celebratory spirit, to teach and build compassion in society.

Mpumi-Nobiva_7

Who do you aim to empower with this campaign and what change do you want to encourage in others?

I want to inspire and empower everyone. I don’t want to be boxed or limited as to why I share and to whom I share my story with. I had orphans in mind, particularly orphans from UNAIDS. I share my story so that they know that they’re not defined by their circumstances. I also have women in mind because they have been marginalised for all of human civilisation. We have been at the bottom of the barrel to some or other extent. Everything I do is geared mainly towards women, children and orphans on the notion of empowerment and social engagement. It has no barrier; it speaks to all people who have a desire to be great.

What has the loss of your mother taught you about yourself? Do you think you’d be a different person if she was alive?

Losing my mother taught me that I’m absolutely strong and there really is no loss. I feel really close to my mother even though I never got to know her. I know her through the people who know her. I wouldn’t change the course of my life because I’m stronger and I’m not afraid of loss in any capacity, which means I’m not afraid of risks. I realised that my story, my truth, is really my currency in this world, it’s what I trade on. It’s been a joy to know that she can be a part of the narrative. My grandmother took care of me; she has never wavered in her care for me. She has always remained rooted and strong and it’s something I’ve always appreciated about her.

Nompumelelo Nobiva

Is there anything you miss and wished you had from South Africa when you’re in the US?

I miss the food, absolutely! The food here is amazing. Most of the time I feel like the food in America is oversaturated, a lot more preserved and it’s tempered with. Home has a lot of organic food. Food is where the heart is and my grandmother’s cooking is probably the best thing I’ve ever encountered in my life. On days when I feel down, I know that a home cooked meal will really pick me up.

How long will your Masters Degree take to complete? Will you then move back to SA?

The traditional programme is 15 months but I was told I would accelerate it and complete it in a year because I want to come back to South Africa to work and do what I believe I’m here to do. I don’t plan to come back and just settle. I want to establish My Public Relations company and still travel and do business across the globe and continue on the relationships I’ve been fortunate to have in the United States.

Nompumelelo Nobiva_1

Outside of your studies; what do you do to relax and spend time with friends?

I love music; I listen to Black Coffee’s music all the time. I’m also building my website, so I do a lot of photo shoots and I also design on WordPress. It never really feels like spare time because everything I do is work, it’s all integrated. And then there’s sleep; I love sleep, I sleep whenever I can.

As a motivational speaker and a strategist, what is art to you?

The expression of art is when an audience member gets it or when a child reaches out and says they are inspired. It’s my voice in the air and the space is the canvas and I fill it with my presence with what I choose to share and how I choose to share it.

Nompumelelo Nobiva

Decide the kind of life you want to lead and follow your heart. Follow your instinct with all your might and do not to be discouraged – your journey will not be easy. When you’ve prepared for your moment and done all that you can, look around and see what is to come. All that you do comes back to you, so imagine it to be everything you want it to be.

Follow Nompumelelo on Instagram and on Facebook.

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

What do you think of Mpumi’s story? Do you believe you can be anything you put your mind to even when you’re faced with adversity? Let us know in the comments section.

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Nolo Phiri - Actress, TV Producer and Fashion Designer

PROLIFIC – Nolo Phiri

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Nolo Phiri – Actress, TV producer and Fashion Designer

Take care of your own and hold your guard. Nurse your feelings, entertain your desires, feed off your love and protect yourself through the stumbles that may try to smother you. Build on your dreams and don’t be afraid to trample on negative energy that may try to stifle you. Don’t dismiss the opportunity of starting small. Climb your ladder of dreams and embrace the process. Do what you can and prepare for your moment. Take chances and do your unthinkable. Surround yourself with those who believe you can. Enclose yourself with those who help celebrate your creative madness.

Nolo Phiri began her career as an actress. She’s a television producer and has recently ventured into fashion with clothing brand, Apples and Oranges. She’s not shy about herself, her aspirations and the journey she’s covered to land where she currently finds herself. She expresses her beliefs and bears her emotions with passionate enthusiasm. She wastes no time; building on and casting her dreams and waits for her perfect moment. With maintaining balance and focus, she completes one dream before half starting on her new projects. Then, she shows it all off, with confidence that eludes the doubts and mishaps before swiftly moving on to grander prospects.

Nolo Phiri for Apples and Oranges (18)

When she was introduced into the industry, she picked a day at random that soon changed her life with immaculate timing. “My debut into the television and entertainment industry was in 2006 when I was a 2nd Year film student at Witwatersrand University. I was paying for my own fees and I made earrings and sold them around campus for pocket money. My friend and I decided to walk to the SABC offices because we didn’t have money to catch a cab. I had thought to myself, ‘Hey, I’m sure they need earrings at SABC’. When we arrived, Muvhango was holding auditions; I joined the queue and waited my turn to audition. I got the job playing a waitress.”

Perfectly aligned with her possibilities, she met a respectable man who saw more than what she had realised about herself. “My role was small and I only had five calls. But on my last day, the Executive Producer, Duma Ndlovu was directing and after we shot my scene he asked me who I was because he was impressed with my acting skills. He wrote me a bigger part the following year and I joined the full cast. When I was studying for my Honours degree, I needed a mentor, so I asked him if he could do this for me. That’s when he realised that I did more than just act. And since then, I’ve never been out of a job since I walked into SABC.”

Nolo Phiri for Apples and Oranges (5)

Nolo transitioned from being an actress into a producer for Word of Mouth and was completely absorbed in her work. When Duma Ndlovu took her under his wing; she produced, travelled the world and unintentionally put her acting career on hold. “A few years later, when I had forgotten that I had an agent, she called to tell me that there was a part on Rhythm City and thought I would be perfect for it. I went to auditions and three days later I was on screen. I only did it because I needed a break; I wanted to play and be on the other side of the camera. I finally wanted to be paid to play. It took over my life and six years later I’m still part of the show.”

Three years ago, she gave birth to her first child Leruo, who completely shifted her mind set and what would matter most to her. “Motherhood is a nightmare but it’s so rewarding. I think whether you plan it or don’t, you’ll experience it differently to when it happens. When my son was an infant, I experienced silly things and I say silly because I’m an adult. I started to see things through his eyes and what fascinated him, with sounds and movements. I became aware of the world around me, which usually does two things; it either fascinates or freaks you out.”

Nolo Phiri for Apples and Oranges (1)

“I started thinking about the world out there and whether I was ready to introduce him to it. Motherhood has made me bolder and braver, and now, I don’t take too long to make decisions. I have to make things happen because it’s not just about me anymore. I’ve become cut throat about my passion, whereas before, I was too scared to tell people how I felt and would consider their feelings. Now I know what I won’t do. I don’t waste time and I usually ask if the job pays.”

Abongile Gwele is the founder of Apples and Oranges; and her relationship with Nolo began when she asked to dress her for a few events. Abongile proposed that they work on a range, and when Nolo agreed, she didn’t think much of the process. “Two months ago, Abongile came back with mood boards after her showing for Design Indaba. She told me the clothes were ready and that we could launch. I wanted the launch to mean something and didn’t want it to be an isolated event where nobody knew about it. So, I raised the money and made sure we had everything we would need for the launch. The launch was successful and it went better than I thought. The people that showed up that day were quality people, they showed that they supported me.”

Abongile Gwele_Founder of Apples and Oranges

“In the next couple of years I want to collaborate with young designers, to empower their brands because I know how hard it is to cross over to the market that gets you going. Another reason for me is; I can’t wait for a big retail store to approach me for endorsements to create a clothing line. I needed to create my own opportunities and market.”

Dabbling into fashion has always been an interest to Nolo and she took the opportunity and created her own luck. “Launching Apples and Oranges for Nolo Phiri was to see if the work that I’ve put in as an actress and being consistent would actually pay off. And in the process, empower another person. The clothing line is amazing; it’s literally selling a lifestyle and simplicity as the ultimate sophistication. We’re encouraging people to understand that you have to create your own luck. That’s what the line really represents. For the next few months, I really want to push and expose the brand as much as I can.”

Nolo Phiri for Apples and Oranges Clothing Line

Nolo hasn’t placed her acting career on hold. In fact, she stars in a feature film that’s set to be released later in the year. “I’ve worked on a British series and I know the producers are trying to sell it this side. It’s called ‘King Makers’ and we’re working on shooting its second season. There’s also a feature film that I’ve worked on called ‘Droplets’ and it’s produced and directed by Kabomo. It’s got a great cast and anyone and every actor that’s respected in the industry is in the film. Kabomo did this deliberately. It’s a star studded film and he wasn’t trying to compromise on the quality of the production. For me, working on productions is not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. I’m not interested in being seen everywhere. I do however want to do more film and theatre.”

Nolo’s also been described as having a relative personality, which to her, describes her completely. “People definitely relate to me as the girl next door and that’s why I think they find it so easy to approach me. They see me on their screens everyday so they feel like they already know me. I don’t present myself as the overly glamorous and elite person, even though I have excess to these spaces. I’ve never sold a dream. I want my work to change and entertain the lives of the people that are on the ground because they are the majority. They need the hope and to aspire to something realistically. It’s a rewarding experience to have people connect with me. They’re genuine and truly believe in my work. I have the ability to transcend from being the girl next door to being elite and I’m okay with being relatable. I know I can do anything that will surprise people.”

Nolo Phiri for Apples and Oranges (15)

Nolo Phiri reveals a lot of herself in how she speaks and responds to her life and the environment she finds herself in. She moulds and dedicates herself into becoming who she believes she is. Therefore, she is a Prolific creative; hardly denying and doubting herself in her moment of becoming. So, she continues to dig a little deeper and has learnt that luck is found by those who create it.

Abongile Gwele and Nolo Phiri for Apples and Oranges

“Art is a subjective expression. It is what you create to communicate a bigger idea. It is expressing what means most to you and sharing it with the world. Art is a creative intuition.” – Nolo Phiri

Follow Nolo Phiri on Instagram and on Facebook. Visit Apples and Oranges to shop online for the range.

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Founder and Creative Director of Styled Timeless - Wendy Ntinezo

POWERFUL – Wendy Ntinezo

Founder and Creative Director of Styled Timeless - Wendy Ntinezo

Founder and Creative Director of Styled Timeless – Wendy Ntinezo

Seek happiness where you’ve never thought to look and search for opportunities where they’ve never been granted. Pay attention to what is around you and learn to use everything that’s presented to you, to your best advantage. Don’t fall into the habit of neglecting what you have for what you think you want; only to give it up for what is most essential to you. Remember to always have the need to dream, to pursue and to always feel renewed.

If the life you have and the dreams you’ve chosen don’t excite you, then you’re in the wrong business. Keep up with your soul and nourish it with the thrill of exploring new paths and go after everything you were meant to fulfil. Life should be exciting. Don’t feel the need to panic and rush into anything that doesn’t serve your interests, or your purpose. You can’t always be sure of where life takes you but you can be certain of the choices you make, the friends you keep and the dreams that will serve you best, even at your worst times.

Wendy Ntinezo

Wendy Ntinezo plays around with colour and her emotions as though they were her personal paintbrush. She mixes and matches her flamboyant and modish style and she’s aware of herself and her surroundings. She doesn’t try to be what she’s not and excels in everything she tackles, mostly because she finds ways of achieving her dreams. Her commitment and artistic capabilities are astounding and she’s open to new experiences and continues to reinvent herself.

Her passion for the arts; in acting, fashion and style remain aflame and unaltered as she always keeps an eye on interesting opportunities. “From a young age, I’ve always known that I’ve loved style, I just never knew I would end up taking so much interest in it. I’m based in acting, in musical theatre and because my acting career was slow when I started, I decided to focus on fashion as my alternative. This came when people would compliment me on the way I dressed but I didn’t entertain the idea until two years ago. I decided to put more effort into it earlier last year when I realised this could be something exciting and wonderful. However, this is not the only thing I would like to do and venture in.”

Wendy Ntinezo

Wendy’s timeless and seamless style allowed her to form a fashion collective with two of her friends, Chloe Cardoso and Mila Guy, earlier in 2015. “When we started Ahua Gaya, we formed a fashion group as we had just been introduced to the fashion industry. We wanted to do and explore as much as we could, so we researched on what blogging is and also started using social media as a branding tool. The response we received was incredible and we committed to the idea.”

There’s a particularly interesting story of how the name Ahua Gaya came about. “Mila came up with the name when she and I started out. Her parents moved to New Zealand when she was young until recently when they moved back so she could study here. Ahua Gaya means ‘fashion style’ in a language called Mali, that’s spoken in New Zealand. The name fits and works well because we didn’t want to just come across as simple but we also wanted to show the simplicity of fashion through our outfits and the different styles we embodied. However, our career prospects led us to pursuing different avenues and we have since parted ways and decided to focus on our individual interests.”

Wendy Ntinezo, Mila Mila Guy and Chloe Cardoso

At first glance, Wendy may be assumed to be a model, but she is foremost an actress and uses modelling to sell her brand as a package. “I’m not a professional model and I don’t see myself as a model. When I say I’m model, I wear my own style and that’s where it comes from. I am looking to becoming a professional and established model in the long run. I have an agent that sends me for acting roles and castings for adverts. I don’t necessarily see myself as a model but it does come in terms of my work. It’s what I use to market myself and my brand. I’m involved in fashion and that requires me to model.”

Her flexible and adaptable nature allows her to keep an open mind and let go of anything that doesn’t serve nor help groom her. “I’ve always believed that a person can have varied interests and always explore different options because I’ve never limited myself. I have this belief; if I’m trying something and I’ve been working at it for a year and it doesn’t work out, I move on. I don’t believe in always being rejected and then being accepted. I believe that if I’m being rejected; I’m allowed to explore other opportunities that will get me to where I want to be.”

Wendy Ntinezo

As ambitious and motivated as she is, Wendy is also set on learning and grasping at prospects that nosh her love for style and clothing. “I’d love to start my own lingerie range as I’m most interested in designing and making beautiful underwear. I’m not so good at drawing but I know which patterns and material would work for certain designs. Right now, I’m working on my brand, Styled Timeless, and I’ve also launched my line of t-shirts to present and promote it to people who could help me grow the business and support my dreams.”

Over the years, after trying various hairstyles, Wendy found the style that soon became her trademark. “The big hair is my brand. I’ve done many hairstyles and I’m lucky to try different looks and for people to comment and say that they suit me. In finding myself and looking at the industry I’m in, I had to make sure that I would be noticed. But now, here’s this black girl with an afro and people are somehow confused about whether I’m Ethiopian or what. I like the fact that people don’t know what I am and I get excited when people ask me if this is my hair and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I bought it so it is mine’. It’s part of my brand and my trademark and I’d like to register this look and say this is me.”

Wendy Ntinezo

Part of Wendy’s success is inspiring and motivating young people to follow and fulfil their dreams. “I think honesty is very important, we need to break stereotypes. Whoever wants to be in my position in a different time from now needs to know the truth and where I started. Sometimes, things happen spontaneously but they have to know that it’s hard work. I’d also like to be involved in empowerment programs and speak to girls so they know how important image is. They need to understand that you’re judged by how you present yourself and speaking is only a cherry on top. I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are successful in styling, who’ve mentored me and they’ve been honest with me. You have to be realistic about your work. They tell me its hard work and advice me with business. It’s important to have people who guide you.”

Even with the rejection that she has faced, she remains focused on her achievements and manages her time well. “Because I’m a freelancer, I have a lot of time on my side and that allows me to focus on different aspects of my career. I wake up and I dress up even when I go for acting classes. And when I’m styling people, I practice my acting skills and I make jokes and play different characters. It also depends on the energy I receive from people. My crafts are always in my suitcase, I’m always ready to use them wherever I go.”

Wendy Ntinezo

Rewind back to where you began and notice the changes that shaped you into who you’ve become. Without these challenges and events, you couldn’t possibly be here and you surely wouldn’t be part of the things you’re involved in now. Through it all, Wendy Ntinezo remains Powerful in her pursuit, taking everything in her stride, reaching for uncontainable dreams and changing the reality of her destiny and of those around her.

“Art is the manner I choose to express myself in; through clothing, style and playing different characters. It is a direct communicating of how I feel and would like to be received. – Wendy Ntinezo

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Follow Wendy on Instagram and on Facebook.

Dav Andrew_Artwork

P-hive Minutes with Dav Andrews

 

Dav Andrew_Artwork

Dav Andrew – Illustrator and Caricaturist

Be free, be outspoken and speak your heart out. If your mind sees no rules and accepts no lines, create your own circles and run your race. Write your freedom out and listen for those who respond to your call. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you know; what matters is who you are and what you’re here to accomplish. Feel the vibrations of your being and the call that’s tailor-made for you. Learn to listen to the voice that makes sense and pay attention to its instruction. The deafening noise of the world should not distract you; it should rather revive your soul and draw you closest to your true self.

Dav Andrews sparks conversations that set hearts alight with wonder and allows the mind to question and weigh its freedom. When fire is set under his feet, he doesn’t recoil to criticism but instead highlights its volatile voice as though it were his catalyst, propelling him to probe a little deeper. He stands firm in his artistry and finds his wit in political satire and social commentary. He’s fearless in his approach and questions everything in his path just as we should.

I spent P-hive Minutes with Dav Andrew, an illustrator so precise in his demeanour and artistry, that he uses the information that surrounds him to create a world, inside and out of reality for the enjoyment of those who seek wisdom and transformation.

Dav Andrew_Artwork 1

Where are you originally from and how would you describe your childhood?

I was born and I grew up in Cape Town. My parents are a mixed race couple. This usually isn’t the information I disclose because I come under a lot of scrutiny because of my political cartoonist position. Such experiences have shaped my life in many ways as I see both sides of the story, including the ignorant presumptuous sides everyone likes to exclude. So this counter-racism has shaped my views on how people interact.

Did you always imagine you’d take up a career in the creative arts as an illustrator? How did you eventually grow into becoming an art director?

Initially, my background was based in inner city graffiti and tattoo artistry. I did both whilst I studied graphic design at the Cape Town University of Technology and that’s where I was introduced and chose to focus on illustration. It opened many opportunities for me. Caricatures were really a dead art form in the South African art scene, until I decided to pick it up and tried to revive it. Now, it’s really exciting to see how it’s gaining popularity again. I’ve also been an art director on previous occasions and I juggled it around with being an illustrator. I’m really trying to be a jack who focuses on all his trades but of course, I prefer not to plan too far ahead. I like leaving my options open as new opportunities present themselves.

Dav Andrew_Fees Must Fall

Your depiction of caricatures is brilliant and so are your illustrations. Do you ever think of creating comic books and developing storylines from these?

Thank you, I appreciate that and it really comes from perfecting my craft. I often enter international competitions with my caricatures, and its humbling when I compete against the best in the world. These guys are the who’s who of caricaturists and they serve as brilliant inspirations and references. The best I’ve done is come third out of a hundred which for me is a lifetime achievement. It pushes me to not only be better, but to really read into the art, and perfect all aspects of my craft.

What’s the most difficult aspect of being an illustrator? Why do you choose to stay committed to the art form?

I love the variety and random subject matters that I have the chance to explore through illustrations. There’s always something to learn. It keeps me alive and I feed off the knowledge. I find it extremely irritating when I see a 4 metre canvas with a red dot on it selling at R20 000. Who are these chancers? And more importantly, how do I become one?

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What’s your big plan? How far do you want to take your career?

I’d imagine I want to take it as far as caricatures and cartoons go as I want to become one of the elite in the country. I’ve still got a long way to go and I’m taking baby steps. There’s no time to rest and I have to stay focused and keep working by keeping current and informed. I’ve learnt to channel my motivation from the time when I was a boxer in my younger days and it keeps me going.

What’s your biggest career highlight thus far? Are you working on any big projects or collaborations?

I’ve been interviewed and have showcased some of my work on television a few times. I’ve also drawn a few ministers and American hip hop stars in person, including the work I’ve done for successful brands. The project I’m working on right now is the biggest so far. I’m not allowed to mention what it is, but I’ll just say we all grew up watching their animated movies.

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Who inspires your work? And, do you feel South African illustrators are given the credit that’s due to them

I’ve always appreciated and referenced Fred Mouton’s work, a cartoonist for Die Burger and the Russian illustrator, Denis Zilber. As a recently added admin of the South African Illustrators’ page on Facebook, I have to say, the local artists are producing great work and are working really hard. Who needs international references and inspiration when you have; Mervin Loves Z Brush, Ruramai Musekiwa, Nico Lee Lazarus, Nkululeko Zulu, Jean Roux, Anda Dawg, Tako and DI MA? We keep each other going. We challenge each other and continue to grow.

How does an illustrator stay relevant in this industry and is it important to be flexible in your work?

An illustrator has to learn to divide work and emotion as we all find difficulty with this. For instance, I won’t work on anything that promotes racism, no matter what the offer is. But, you also learn that stubbornness doesn’t pay the bills. You have to keep going and with the way things are right now, affiliating yourself with certain movements shapes your reality. We’re all learning and we have to keep going.

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Some of your work focuses on social issues and political commentary; what do aim to achieve with this kind of work?

Social commentary is important and this includes starting and participating in debates or discussions on certain subjects. Some topics need to be confronted. I’ve learnt that instead of ranting about these issues, I should rather draw and use my art to communicate. After all, it’s my opinion and in most cases I do it to keep such discussions going.

Have you been given the opportunity to plan and curate your own exhibition?

No, not yet. I’m hoping that could be something I do this year. I’m not sure as yet because I’m impulsive and I don’t plan everything I do.

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Can anyone become an illustrator? What does it take to be successful?

Definitely, we’re all creative. We’ve all drawn as children, we have the gift. All it takes is working on it and perfecting it. To be successful you have to be committed to the craft. You should never stop moving forward. There’s a television advert that I like; where the guy keeps moving and running from birth. It has the best explanation ever. I might just download it, and keep it like some people keep quotes

Outside of your work, what are your other interests?

I’ve participated in several activities including; boxing, grappling and mixed martial arts. I love these sports because they offer the best way to release frustration especially when I use punching bags. Whilst some people vent out on their best friends, all I need is Notorious B.I.G and a punching bag. I’m looking to bring a small boxing gym to the ghetto areas as these kids have a lot of energy and they need a positive way to make use of it. Boxing teaches patience, humility and self-respect.

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What has being an illustrator taught you? How do you apply this as a life lesson?

Knowledge is power. I love retelling historical events through illustrations and educating those who don’t know about liberation stories. I’m actually a bit of a history geek and I find pride and strength in stories of liberation in Africa. I always think if I was a slave back then, I probably wouldn’t be a legend and I’d probably die young but I would make sure my death makes a difference. I’ve always had a problem with authority anyway.

As an illustrator, what is art to you?

Art is preserving history and saving the story. Questioning art is important. In fact, you need question everything.

Dav Andrew_Artwork 8

What you decide to see with your mind translates into how your eyes adjust to the world and what you make a part of you. You’re an active element in your choices; you decide who you become and what you make of what you are becoming. Don’t doubt yourself to think you’re part of the minority that withers away as the dreams that were never fulfilled. You are just as important. Be kind to yourself and be protective of your dreams because your thoughts could change your world. No one sees what you see. So, how do you lend your eyes to the world so we could witness your experience within our experiences to change the world and make it a little more clearer?

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Check out Dav’s work on Behance and follow him on Instagram.

Jay Makopo performing at the Joburg Theatre - The Fringe

Jay Makopo ripples the effect with his new EP

Jay Makopo performing at the Joburg Theatre - The Fringe

Jay Makopo performing at the Joburg Theatre – The Fringe

Following the attention and appreciation he received from fans and the media when he remixed popular hip hop songs in 2014, Jay Makopo has finally released his own body of work, titled Suicide Kids EP 2.

Jay Makopo launched his EP at the Joburg Theatre – The Fringe and the response from his supporters was exhilarating. His three main supporting acts were female rapper Chazz le Hippie, the well-known Priddy Ugly and rap duo Frat Pack – who complemented the style and feel of the overall show.

Jay Makopo performing at the Joburg Theatre - The Fringe

When he took the chance by introducing and performing the tracks from his new EP, the upcoming rapper admitted he wasn’t sure of how the audience would receive him and the songs. It was his first time presenting the body of work on stage at a live concert following the release of his first single from the EP, Boom Shaka.

Having planned two months prior to the event which he independently organised and orchestrated, with added help from friends and family; he successfully pulled off an entertaining performance that kept the audience on their feet.

 

Jay Makopo performing at the Joburg Theatre - The Fringe 3

The latest single, Boom Shaka has received major success following his appearances at the iRock Concert and Maftown Heights after winning a nation-wide voting competition to take part in the event.

Click below to listen to full interview after his performance at the Suicide Kids EP 2 launch.

Jay Makopo launches Suicide Kids EP 2 at the Joburg Theatre – The Fringe

Tshepo Mohlala - Founder of TSHEPO the Jean Maker

Tshepo Mohlala launches TSHEPO the Jean Maker

Tshepo Mohlala - Founder of TSHEPO the Jean Maker

Tshepo Mohlala – Founder of TSHEPO the Jean Maker

Follow your passion with impulse wherever you may go, as this feeling is most true and it will surely encourage and push you towards your purpose. Building a dream from the ground up could prove to be demanding and exhausting – but above all, it is most rewarding. Leave your doubt at the door and keep going. You can’t stop now, you can’t hold back when everything you’ve worked for awaits your presence – to continue forth, to reap the rewards and inspire the dreamers who share a similar vision and are headed in the same direction.

Tshepo Mohlala, the Prince of Denim, has been a part of reputable and successful businesses, including his latter, the South African premium denim brand, Afrikan Swiss. He felt adventurous, restless and more than anything, he felt incomplete. So, he left the groundwork and the stability to start his own enterprise; TSHEPO the Jean Maker. He garners on and revels in his pursuit, driven by a fondness to represent his true artistic self.

TSHEPO the Jean Maker - Jeans 2

How long have you been working on your clothing line and why did you choose ‘TSHEPO the Jean Maker’ as the brand name?

I’ve been working on the brand since February 2015 and it came to life months later in November 2015. I wanted to create a signature brand as the likes of Versace, Levis, Marc Jacobs, Moschino, and Ralph Lauren. Only this time, such a brand would be produced locally.

Was leaving Afrikan Swiss as the co-founder and Marketing Director a difficult decision to make? What encouraged you to stick to your decision?

Leaving Afrikan Swiss wasn’t an easy decision to make because the guys and I worked so hard to create what Afrikan Swiss is known for today. I wanted more and I needed to challenge myself. I love creating great functional everyday wear jeans that are affordable and of great quality. This encouraged me to leave Afrikan Swiss and the guys gave me their blessings to do what I’m most passionate about and they support my decision.

Where will you be selling the clothing from and when do you plan on introducing the jeans for your female market?

I am currently selling the jeans online via social media. People who are interested in owning a pair can place an order by reaching me via e-mail or on social media. My design team and I are working on a range that we will launch next year and thereafter introduce jeans for our female market sometime in June 2016.

TSHEPO the Jean Maker - Jeans 3

What pieces are readily available to your customers at the moment? How often will you be releasing new designs?

We have created and perfected our first design – the straight slim-fit cut which is suitable for everyday wear. They are functional and practical for any occasion and activity. Our brand focuses on creating classic jeans with a touch of modesty. We will be releasing three other cuts in 2016.

What sets your jeans apart from your competitors? What are you bringing that’s distinct to your brand?

TSHEPO jeans are designed and produced locally, with quality material. Our cut is perfectly tailored for African men.

You have three other specialists who are part of TSHEPO the Jean Maker. Why did you choose to work with them specifically?

I’ve recently rearranged my initial team and we are in a process of working with a PR company and other specialists who have in-depth knowledge of their fields. These are people with experience, business and industry knowledge and it is important for us to partner with people who are dedicated as much as we believe in the brand.

TSHEPO the Jean Maker - Jeans 4

What has been the most challenging and rewarding part of starting a new business in such a fiercely competitive market?

Cash flow is a challenge in starting a new business. It takes confidence to compete in this saturated billion-dollar industry. It is encouraging and rewarding to witness people supporting a new denim brand in the market.

Why did you decide to launch the brand late in the year and not have waited until 2016? Was it a strategic move?

We didn’t want to wait any longer as our first pair of jeans was ready. This is also an introduction phase for the brand, to get people familiar and to buy into it.

TSHEPO the Jean Maker - Jeans 5

When you launched your jeans on the 27th of November, what response were you anticipating? Were you impressed with the support you received?

The most important aim was to show people what we have created and to allow them to interact with us. The response we received was amazing even though it was a cold night. People still came and we were humbled.

What have you planned for the coming year? Are you working on any projects?

We are planning to launch three other cuts and introduce more product mix. Our greatest goal is to create a home for our brand and gain a larger clientele.

TSHEPO the Jean Maker - Jeans

Who knew you’d be part of the things you’re doing now? Who knew you’d succeed when you pushed and tried one more time? Nothing happens by chance; everything you do builds on to who you are and what you’re meant to become. So don’t doubt yourself, take in everything that’s around you and make it all a part of you. This is what Tshepo Mohlala continues to do; he remains focused, inspired and hardworking. So, what stops you? Push past the doubt and pull towards your aspirations.

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Illustrator and founder of JoburgMyHomeburg - Rendani Nemakhavani

P-hive Minutes with Rendani Nemakhavhani

Illustrator and Graphic Designer - Rendani Nemakhavani

Illustrator and Graphic Designer – Rendani Nemakhavani

Stand firm and fiery in your beliefs, trusting that everything that is has the power to change minds and concepts – yours and the world’s as the future it’s written on. When your life plans swoop you into a path unrecognised by your inexperience; it will carry you over to where you should be, carving out the intrinsic pieces designed to be your ultimate purpose. It may take some time to find yourself in the chaos but when you eventually do, it will always make sense.

Rendani Nemakhavani has an innate talent that doesn’t shout for recognition. Instead, it draws you close enough to pay attention and admire its sugary murmur. She shows off and reveals her remarkable insight of her world and how peculiar life really and yet so simple enough to live. Talent is uneducated, and it takes listening close enough to not ignore the silent deep confessions of the heart to know what’s true. She eavesdrops on all her senses and waits to be inspired and then explores her creative senses, treading carefully in its revelations.

I spent P-hive Minutes with Rendani Nemakhavani feeling encouraged to embrace the future and its prospects by living in the present and taking life experiences as they come.

Rendani Nemakhavani - Special Price

How would you describe your childhood? Were you always attracted to the arts?

My childhood was great but it had its awkward moments as most childhoods do –or so I think. I can’t call my passion for illustrating an as attraction to the arts, it’s how I’ve always been. I’ve always been creative. My whole being has been art. This is my purpose and I’ve been chosen to do this, I wouldn’t have any other way.

Rewind back to how you were introduced to taking up a career as an illustrator and graphic designer. Has it always been part of the plan?

I didn’t have clarity as to what graphic design was or that it existed. I didn’t know I could do this for the rest of my life. In my last year of high school, I did research on careers I could do and be part of the creative industries. I enrolled at the University of Johannesburg for the Graphic Design course and the way graphic design was explained seemed simple enough but I wasn’t very good at drawing. I avoided participating in any free-hand drawing classes but to my disappointment, that’s exactly what happened. I got through it and in my final year, I found my style. There wasn’t a grand plan; I just didn’t want to end up in a 9 to 5 job that would force me to have a solid routine. I’m terrible at following a routine.

Rendani Nemakhavani - Cheesekop Tamati

Product design is also one of your interests, such as furniture and textile designing. How are those plans coming along?

Yes, product design is what I’d like to focus on in the near future. Those plans are under wraps right now so I can’t say much about them. Keep an ear to the ground.

What’s the idea behind ‘JoburgMyHomeburg’? What sparked it and what was your initial aim and the direction you wanted to take with it?

The idea behind ‘JoburgMyHomeburg’ is my love for the city. It’s my personal narrative of how I move around and interact with people and the activities within it. Being a taxi commuter sparked the idea.I started taking photos on my iPod and the rest was magic really. I didn’t have a particular direction when I started working on the idea because I felt as though if I had planned everything in detail, I would only be limiting myself. So I allowed the idea to flow when everything works together.

Rendani Nemakhavani - Bums

You were part of a successful collaboration with other talented artists in the ‘30 Days and a City’ exhibition in 2014; what did you take away from the experience and do you plan on working on more collaborations in the near future?

As the initiator and curator of 30 Days and a City, the project was an enormous learning curve for me and the artists that were part of it. We had two exhibitions; the first was launched online in 2014 and thereafter we collaborated with Studio X Johannesburg and had a tangible exhibition where all the featured artists showcased their work. The results were amazing! All the work submitted by the participants was better than what I had expected it to be. This is definitely a project that will continue in the future.

What was most interesting about ‘30 Days and a City’?

Everything about it was exciting! This was a dream coming to fruition and I was doing what I love most. Even with all the stress, preparations and admin that had to be done, it was fulfilling. Learning from first-hand experience is always worthwhile.

Rendani Nemakhavani - Brush Cut

How do you manage to remain level-headed and focused when you work? Do you ever feel pressured to always produce great artwork?

I don’t allow myself to succumb to the pressures of the world. I know what I want and how I want it done, so I always work at my own pace. It’s the only way that I can get things done and the way they should be done. The only pressure I feel is the pressure that I put on myself. I always aspire to create a better version of my previous creations and of myself.

How do you deal with the attention you’ve been receiving? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by it?

It can get overwhelming because I tend to be withdrawn. My interactions are somewhat selective and maybe it’s an energy thing – but I do enjoy meeting new people. I may come across as strange at first encounter and I’ll admit to being socially awkward at times. I try by all means to not let the attention get to my head but I do enjoy it, I feel appreciated.

Rendani Nemakhavani - Side Burn

Outside of your work as an illustrator and graphic designer; what else are you involved in? How does it contribute to your success?

I’m involved in my life and everything I’m doing! I don’t always get to do the things that I want to do that much anymore; like hangout and spend time with my family. So whenever I can get the chance, I get to it. These are the people who created a part of who I am and witnessing their happiness contributes immensely to my success.

What do you find most challenging about being an illustrator? How do you work through the difficulties?

When I create the work, there’s nothing particularly challenging in getting the work out and finding the appropriate platforms to present the finished work. Inventing various methods to produce work that isn’t repetitive is what I find to be a challenge, but I work through it. I continue exploring myself and the environments I find myself in because I always aspire to create work that carries a whiff of novelty.

Rendani Nemakhavani - Thirst Trap

Are there any creatives you’d like to work with on collaborations? What projects would you like to work on?

I could name them all, I really would but there are so many people I’d like work with. I have this dream that needs fulfilling and it involves exploring Africa in order for it to happen. I want to work with amazing African artists because there’s so much talent here and there’s still so much to do and create within the industry. I’d also love to collaborate with other various artists outside of Africa, brands that are especially depend on sub-cultures to stay relevant.

How do you think you’re changing people’s minds and concepts about life experiences through your work? What do you want to contribute to the arts?

I think that the way that I see the world assists in contributing to conversations about the parts of life that some people – and by some people I mean elite people – don’t get to see. I also don’t think of it as a matter of changing people’s minds because it’s more of me building an awareness of what’s going on. The world isn’t black and white because there‘s always activity in the grey areas and that’s what I’m bringing into the light. I am contributing real life events to the arts. I’m contributing myself to the arts.

Rendani Nemakhavani - German Cut

Was there ever a time when you wanted to quit your work and pursue another career? What changed your mind otherwise?

Yes of course. I sat down and weighed out the advantages and disadvantages of what I wanted to do versus what I was able to do at that moment. In the position I was in; a vile voice would tend to sneak up on me and make me doubt myself. But because I know that I can’t spend the rest of my life building someone else’s dream, I can’t give up on the reality of my own. Giving up is never an option because I come from a clan of hard workers and maximum achievers. I couldn’t be the one who breaks the chain.

Apart from being an illustrator; what other career prospects would you like to pursue?

I’m working towards being a lecturer. I really want to teach design and illustration. There’s so much I wish I had been introduced to when I was in varsity that I only came across after I graduated. I’m also going into product designing, as I believe in evolving in my craft. There’s no staggering for me from here onwards.

As an illustrator and graphic designer, what is art to you?

Art is life. As long as something is created, it becomes art. It may not always be pretty to look at, but it does exist.

Rendani Nemakhavani - No Suga

When you are encouraged to be what you’ve always wanted to become, you take on a refreshing definition of being your true self. This ownership is life-changing and worthwhile and no one can take it from you. Do what you’ve always looked forward to experiencing, holding nothing back from all possibilities. You are who you are for a reason; denying your purpose will only kill your spirit and that helps no one. Embrace yourself and it’ll be easy to accept and love everything that is a part of you.

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Hussain van Roos - Co-founder of Fixin Diaries

PLAYFUL – Hussain van Roos

Hussain van Roos - Co-founder of Fixin Diaries

Hussain van Roos – Co-founder of Fixin Diaries

When you’re given the chance to be better at being yourself, take the opportunity and renew your thoughts. Don’t allow yourself to be complacent; doing the same things and choosing to change nothing about your circumstances and where you are headed next. Your good qualities should remain consistent, whilst shifting and reinventing old ways to something of value. These changes won’t happen in a day. So long as you keep working on yourself, you’ll get better. As you might have found – nothing is as worse as being predictable and doing absolutely nothing to change it.

Hussain van Roos and his co-partners, Mojalefa and Karabo Masopha, are family first and then business partners. They started Fixin Diaries; a bicycle refurbishment company, that has been running for over a year and a half. The company redesigns and repairs bicycles including smaller projects; and have hosted numerous bicycle ride events.

Fixin-Diaries

Blessed with the knack to assemble and fix the broken; they’ve learnt this lesson with themselves and for the business. They continue to learn and be better, taking nothing for granted. They know first-hand what it’s like to lose something of value, far more precious than the jewels of the world. “When my partners lost their mother, they looked for something to do and wanted to keep busy and deal with their loss. What we do now started out as a past time until it became a regular way for us to spend time and work together.”

After stumbling onto the business idea when a friend offered to buy a bicycle they had fixed and redesigned, they knew they had to act on the opportunity. “When he offered to buy the bicycle, we knew there was a business opportunity brewing and had to act on it. Another friend suggested we think beyond the normal and find a unique name that would relate and identify with the business. At first, we used the name, Vintage House. We changed it when our friends made us realise that the term vintage was worn out so we had to think of something else. If we wanted to pioneer a movement, we had to rethink our name and the brand.”

Fixin Diaries

The three partners were determined to come up with an inventive name that defined their ideals and creative freedom, so they brainstormed a little more. “The name came spontaneously and when ideas started flowing, we decided and stuck to Fixin; as it comes from fixing and refers to the ability to refurbish bicycles and other smaller projects. Diaries; describes us digitally documenting each milestone we reach through events, collaborations and the rides we host. The diary is readily available online unlike locking it away as people would normally do.”

Fixin Diaries is situated in Melville – a business hub that takes the old with the new and has been around for over a decade. “Melville boasts alternative ways of living and it forms part of the lifestyle aspect of Fixin Diaries. By day, it supports our daily business run and at night it allows us to host events tailored for our clients and our network. We further injected a different concept of having your ‘Friday drinks after work’ and gave it a new definition. It’s worked out really well for us and gives us the chance to make friends with our clients and explore as much as we can.”

Fixin Diaries

Hussain, Karabo and Mojalefa share the same Islamic beliefs and values, which would explain their close-knit connection and brotherhood. “We have a stronghold on our beliefs. Hussain means Handsome in Arabic – but I swear this was not meant to describe my physical appearance in any way. I come from a Christian family. When my father decided to become a Muslim man, I followed in his footsteps by embracing Islam as my way of life. I have admiration for him and his religious viewpoints.”

The response that Fixin Diaries has received from friends, supporters and the companies they’ve partnered with is commendable and outstanding. “It wasn’t as simple to start out and it took a couple of arguments and lots of making up. There are no tricks as to why the business has been received so well, none at all, it’s all hard work. To get where we are; we fought, argued, cursed and persevered. We still do. We winged it, took calculated risks along the way and made bad and good choices. We are living life. We are human first before we are business owners. Our perceived success has been ensuring an authentic experience for our patrons and clients and to make them feel at home.”

Fixin Diaries

Hussain adds, “Look, with any new endeavour there are peaks and falls. It’s exactly like raising a child. Kit gloves and the right tools are needed to make the business work, along with good direction that has to be taken to support these gloves.”

Hussain enjoys physical activity and the outdoors and feels more alive when he explores it on his bike. “The great outdoors are what we humans were put on earth to explore. This is my very personal belief. It allows for physical and intellectual engagement with other people of common interests and even of the opposite mindset. I wouldn’t say it was one of the reasons why I started but it is perhaps a driving factor in keeping the experience authentic.”

He also believes that Fixin Diaries is doing so well because, “We want to focus on sharing lifestyle areas that are less common amongst the working-class in Soweto. We are building an international brand which will someday build its own bicycle parts and furnish people’s homes. We coupled the refurbishing business with giving different experiences of Soweto – but unlike how tourists are shown around the township. We also realised that we were also very comfortable in riding our bikes in style and that gave birth to the social cycling culture in Soweto.”

Fixin Diaries

There’s a beauty about sharing similar social cultures with different parts of the world and forming beautiful connections made from all its corners. “Fishtail Rides is an international company based in Dubai that we are working with. We are the first brand in Africa to form the collaboration and host this series of rides alongside our friends from PUMA Lifestyle. We are currently working on a project with Fishtail Rides for this November and we are excited about it.”

Fixin Diaries emerged at the time when bicycles were becoming a popular mode of transport for social gatherings and the three partners knew this would happen. “There’s been a phenomenal growth in using bicycles as a mode of transport, especially in Soweto. My partners and I applaud each other every time we realise the magnitude and success of this movement. We’ve witnessed events that we’ve hosted bring between eighty to a hundred patrons respectively.”

Fixin Diaries

Most recently, Ayanda Moholi, their social media guru, brought up an idea that included inviting more females to take part in their social bicycle rides. “We aimed the idea of hosting leisurely rides in Soweto for females because we realised that only a handful of ladies were riding along with us when we hosted the rides. That’s when we pioneered a bicycle ride event tailored specifically for them. We offered lessons to the ladies who weren’t as comfortable on bicycles but were keen to learn. The ladies came out and had fun with us and it was a great success.”

With all the success and attention they’ve garnered thus far, Fixin Diaries still plan to achieve a vision far bigger than their current reality. “The ultimate vision is to industrialise the bicycle building production aspect for Fixin Diaries. We plan to strategically place it in the heart of Soweto, thus ensuring an industry shift to stabilise the business hub that Soweto is becoming and already is.”

Fixin Diaries

Sometimes, ideas come as friends and it takes those who surround you to make you realise what’s always been there. When this happens, the moment may seem small until you start to appreciate it. Learning to trust your judgement is no easy feat because more often than not, we forget to listen with our minds, open to opportunity.

Fixin Diaries is embodied by three adventurous partners who are visionaries and have turned their passion into a tangible dream. They’ve had the pleasure to reinvent and mould an idea when it mattered most and turned friends into social families that don’t discriminate. They are fun, free-spirited and most importantly; hardworking and unwavering in their pursuit.

Fixin Diaries

To choose not to recognise and admire his persona and distinction could only be foul play; because Hussain van Roos is a Playful entrepreneur who’s resilient, agile and takes nothing for granted in all that he does.

“Art is design in motion. Art is design, in design, with all kinds of design.” – Hussain van Roos

Photos by Ken Khutso

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

P-hive Minutes with Bongani Mathebula

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

Poet – Bongani Mathebula

When everything is as it should be, you don’t question it but simply live in the moment. Think back to what it took for you to be where you are and how you’ve managed to surpass all that you’ve gone through and still remain victorious. You’re a fighter and mostly importantly, you’ve won the battle – even if you don’t know it yet. Fear is a part of life, and so is doubt but worry not; you were born into greatness. Your spirit will be awakened when you finally stumble onto your true purpose. Even the winds won’t help but blow in your direction, brush up against your strength and lift you into your moment. Soak up all your happiness and spread it all around. You’ve earned your stripes and giving back takes nothing away from you.

Bongani Mathebula has had setbacks that made him question his life and his future. He kept yearning for a dream that seemed pointless to believe in when everything fell sideways. He’s come a long way and the work he’s produced and the response he’s received is evidence that his persistence, drive and focus pulled him through the hardships so he could live and enjoy his moment.

I spent P-hive Minutes with Bongani Mathebula; a poet and writer so distinct in his nature and delivery; that you’d have to soak up the richness and complexity of his words that speak life in rhyme.

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

Were you as expressive as you are now when you were growing up? How has your childhood influenced the direction you have taken as a writer and a poet?

Yes, I was always very expressive as a kid; from my speech to the extramural activities I was involved in at school. I amazed a lot of people, including my teachers and everyone called me the miracle child. My childhood influenced the writer and the poet I am and it’s too interesting to ignore. I’ve got an elephant memory and I recall events of my life that I feel I could write a book. Writing is telling a story and my life is my story. I can write my future just from observing and learning from the present and appreciating the past.

Did you always know you could write? How would you describe yourself when you were growing up?

I didn’t know I could write even though I was very intelligent. I was naughty and quiet and I excelled at school. My comedic element kicked in when I was in primary and I became the fun nerd. I never had to seek the attention but it was drawn to me and I became quite popular at school. I was always an entertainer and it showed. It still does.

How were you introduced to literature? How did it come into play with you deciding to take up a career as be a writer and poet?

I picked up a book by Robinson Crusso when I was four-years-old and tried to pronounce the words as I read them. My uncle found me reading out loud and he was shocked that I could read so well. I went to school at Hillcrest Primary School and that’s where my knowledge and vocabulary was brewed. I was also surrounded by people who had a great ear for music and that’s where the love for rap and poetry came from. I used to record songs from the radio on cassettes and repeatedly listen to them until I memorised them. No one taught me the things I know; it’s as if I always knew that I would be a writer in the future.

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

Has poetry taught you any lessons that you wouldn’t have known otherwise? Where do you apply these lessons?

Poetry taught me how to listen to myself and others. I’ve learnt what life is from poetry, as my work speaks to me. I’m versatile because I can transform my poetry to free-styling and provide spontaneous rhymes when I perform. It also taught me to be free. My writings teach me to believe in myself when there was nothing else to believe in. When I open my eyes and I see my hands holding my poetry books, I know it’s meant to happen. I learn the most from my audience by interacting with them after performing.

Where do you seek your inspiration from and how do you translate that into your work?

I draw my inspiration from the higher source, the Most High. Translating my work into writing is hard because there’s a greater vision in me of the world we live in. I do find it hard at times to translate these ideas into words that people can relate to because I often delve deeper. I’m learning to be better through my work.

When you pen down a poem or an idea for a piece; when’s the best time to write or does it depend on inspiration?

I’m constantly inspired, but at the same time I try not to abuse that power and end up writing anything that doesn’t serve purpose. When inspiration comes, I find a place where there’s privacy and a place to rest. I enjoy writing and performing because that helps me release energy at different levels. Life inspires me.

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

Are you planning on publishing a compilation of your work anytime soon? How do you plan on doing this?

I am planning on publishing my work really soon as recordings on hard copy. I draw as well and I’d love to fuse both the writing and the visuals on the project. It’s taking a lot of work, time and patience to put it together so I’m not rushing the process.

How would you describe the energy you present on stage when you’re performing? How does the audience respond to your energy and how do you feed it back to them?

My energy on stage is something else, I can’t explain it. It’s super intense, and I get goose bumps after I perform. After a performance, I have to calm myself down before I can interact with the audience. People respond positively and a connection is made. I was born to be great because of the relationships I can create with poetry. When people can relate to the story then I’ve done my part in sharing it. I go the extra mile to receive the extra mile from people.

Music happens to be a huge part of your life. How were you introduced to it and do you keep true to the art form?

I’ve always loved music but I don’t even remember how I was introduced to it. When the musical element was introduced, the poetry changed into a new form. My music is a free flow, it interchanges and I allow it to grow as I progress.

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

Travelling and sight-seeing is also one of your passions. Where would you like to visit and explore?

I love travelling because it broadens the mind. Learning and interacting with different people from diverse cultures teaches you to judge less. I’d love to go New York and visit the block where Biggie used to free style. I’d also love to travel to Germany, Australia, London and Japan. In short, I’d love to travel all over the world and make friends with as many people as I can.

Are you working on any interesting projects or productions currently?

Yes, I’m working on a project with King, who’s a producer for Sony and Crew Fahrenheit. He understands my style and direction of music. I’m also working on a collaboration called, Two Suns in One Planet; where I’ll host ciphers in twelve different venues every month. The ciphers will tie in with tourism and taking a tour around Johannesburg as I’m also a tour guide.

What’s your ultimate dream of true success? How do you plan on reaching, and achieving this goal?

True success is being able to execute a talent and giving it life. When you’ve dealt with internal conflicts of your life and you’re able to succeed; that means business and earning an income. I believe in my dreams and envision them until they come alive and live them out. That’s how things happen.

Poet - Bongani Mathebula

As a poet, lyricist and all-round creative; what is art to you?

Art is all around me because I am an all-round creative. It is picking the right fruit from the tree and sharing it with the world and changing perspectives.

When you feel you aren’t moving in the direction you are meant to, redirect your energy until you find your righteousness. It will get a lot harder and more confusing before it gets better and clearer.

Bongani has come far to be at the point that he’s at and he proves that you are what you believe. He trains his mind to see the good in everything because his future belongs to him. He remains focused, quiet and fruitful in his prospects because he always chooses to be better. Its funny isn’t it; how life always works itself out into its perfect moments when we don’t try too hard?

I spent P-hive Minutes with Bongani Mathebula, and understood that life is what you give and the rewards are truly life-changing.

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba

Self-taught photographer - Kgomotso Tleane

PERSONABLE – Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Photographer - Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Photographer – Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Look around your world and see it for what it is. If you must, discover a new pair of eyes and observe how extraordinary ordinary things are – as they are often right in front of you waiting to be seen. Most often, we are blinded by life and the circumstances we are thrown under and we find ourselves entrapped in situations that suck the pure joy and colour out of life. We can’t always be blamed, because the eyes don’t see until experience slits them open with truth – that lingers for an epiphany that invites us to change more than our own being.

What if the very things and people you meet along your journey suddenly had to disappear? Where would you turn and who would you ask for assistance? More so, who would you depend on for comfort? The small enormous details we skip over and go about our lives are the very details that sketch out our existence and our response to the world and how we view it. Appreciate what you have and don’t wait. Don’t wait until your circumstances change and shift you to a different dimension before you can ask; what if I looked closer and appreciated the simpler things? What if I didn’t wait?

Recycler_Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Kgomotso Neto Tleane is an exceptional photographer with a magnetic eye that captures the authenticity of black South African life stories. He seductively lures and directs the attention of past narratives that remain ignored and untold. The raw direction and focus of his work is instinctive and curious. He sees what we see but takes the time to appreciate and expose the detailed lives of people with intricate stories who find themselves in dire circumstances that affect the human soul.

If he didn’t know any better, Kgomotso’s grandfather may have swayed him in this direction of a creative career in photography. Like most of us, he had no clue of what he wanted to do or achieve out of life until two years ago when he bought his first camera. “I grew up in a rural area thirty kilometres away from Polokwane called Kgamashe. There was no influence of photography or anything related to it. Only now when I think of it; my mom would tell me that my grandfather used to visit from Johannesburg during the holidays and whenever he was home, he would take pictures of us. When I was searching and wanted to buy an analogue camera sometime last year, he gave me his and that’s when I remembered that he used to take pictures of us. He mostly shot family portraits.”

Natal_Komotso Neto Tleane

“I met a studio photographer at an event recently and I showed him my work. When he asked me why I do this I told him that when I came to Johannesburg, I realised that we don’t appreciate the things we see every day. We don’t see them even though they are in our faces all the time. There’s so much beauty and stories in these daily activities but we fail to see or appreciate them.”

Kgomotso’s photography style is instinctive and it came around the time when he needed to find himself and his uniqueness. ”I didn’t realise I was focusing on these elements when I started shooting. There was one picture I shot and for me that was when I realised that this is what I should be about. I took a picture of a woman who had a child on her back and she was pushing a trolley that looked very heavy. When I got home, I looked at the picture and I was saddened. The picture looked amazing but I didn’t like that I chose to take a picture over trying to help her push it. I also noticed that there were taxis in most of my shots even though I didn’t intend on taking pictures of them. This was also something I was amazed by.”

Natal_Kgomotso Neto Tleane

“I want to tell township stories and do something unlike the normal. That’s also the reason why my work has been well-received and appreciated because of its uniqueness and the not so obvious. We form part of the narrative because we’re familiar with the lifestyle and we should embrace it.”

“When I started, I was just shooting with no purpose. But since I joined the Umuzi Photo Club, I’ve learnt to focus. When I want to work on something, I work on that specific task until I finish with it. Now I shoot with a purpose and a goal in mind. I’m also still trying to grasp the concept of time. Work has become busier but it’s manageable.”

North-West

You know you’re doing something right when you can’t tell the difference between work and play – especially when you make a living from it. “Personal time is work and work is my personal time because I don’t think of it as work. There was a point in my life when I used to think of my job as work when I was a call-centre agent but not anymore. Photography is my work but it’s also the time when I have the most fun.”

“Even when I go to parties, I always have my camera with me. Whatever happens, I shoot everywhere I go. It started as a hobby and it moved into something more serious so I dropped everything I was doing and focused on it. I live off my work and this is how I survive. It’s very hard to make money off the things that you love.”

Recycler_Kgomotso Neto Tleane

“I haven’t really participated in any shows or exhibitions recently but I’ve been invited to a few. I feel like I don’t have a solid body of work that I can put out. I’m working on a taxi series and other projects and that’s what I want to showcase. My work is recognised mainly through social media and the digital space because that’s how people know of me and my work. It’s crazy because that’s how people came to appreciate and love my work.”

Kgomotso wants to explore the beautiful landscapes, diverse cultures and rich history of Africa. “I want to travel to most of the countries in Africa because I like the rural homelands and that’s where I would I’d like to shoot. I’d want to go to Kenya, to explore and meet the Maasai tribe. They inhabit southern Kenya and northern Tanzania and they are interesting people. For a long time, Africa has been portrayed as a dark and unattractive continent and only now people are opening up to it. Even western countries are referencing a lot of African styles and are making them their own. It’s like we are waiting for their approval. We have to tell our own stories.”

North West_Kgomotso Neto Tleane

“I’ve been trapped in my work and photography bubble because I haven’t been travelling much this year. I’m focusing on the work I’m doing at Umuzi. I love working and meeting different creatives and collaborating with them. Collaboration is the best thing a creative could take part in because the most amazing ideas take form and you learn and take away so much from each other.”

“When I’m not working, I love meeting people and going out, I go out a lot. I listen to a lot of jazz as well.”

Before Kgomotso can find his true success, he wants to find out what he’s really about and be content with what he chooses. “I want to find my style, a suitable focus and know what it means and what it’s really about. If I can make a living out of my personal work then I’d be happy. It may take a while but telling stories of people is what I love doing. I want to get paid for playing. That’s my ultimate idea of achieving success.”

Recycler_Kgomotso Neto Tleane

His distinctive style has caused stirs and peeked interest from fellow photographers and people who genuinely appreciate an artist who looks at the familiar with exceptional accuracy. He encourages the mind to look closely at the beauty hidden beneath shallow eyes and tells stories to those who probe deep enough to see truth. He’s Personable and continues to find himself in what he loves from the life that is a part of him.

Bree Taxi Rank_Kgomotso Neto Tleane

“Art is changing perspectives around us. It is showing people what they already see, changing their mindset and sparking conversations. Art should always change lives.” – Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Check out Kgomotso Neto Tleane’s photography work on Behance.

Written by Sithembiso Promise Xaba