Tag Archive | "Mzansi"

F What You Heard, Local is Lekker!

I can never stress enough the importance of creating musical works that are relevant to your community and region. The concept of ‘think local, act global’ not only applies to business but to an artist’s music and personal branding too. Unfortunately in South Africa there seems to be a proliferation of new artists that ‘think global and pretend to act global.’ They live in the sky and create music that is obviously designed to appeal to a New Yorker or an ATLien (a resident of Atlanta, term coined by Outkast,) and then wonder why their music fails to attract a South African audience. That’s because they fail to CONNECT and make music that is relevant to their immediate community.

The market sees this type of artist as a ‘wannabe’ and an impersonator that is too busy trying to mimic their favourite ‘American artist’. The market does not relate to their stories, energies and packaging; even their slang usage is more ‘Ebonics’ than Tsotsi Taal.

I had the opportunity of working with both Skwatta Kamp and Pro Kid early in their careers. The one thing I learned from both these acts was the importance of representing your true self. Through their music and presentation, both these acts were representing elements of the South African kid growing up in the townships. Pro Kid’s “Ungaphel’ Umoya Son” is a great example of a record that connects to the South African audience. On the record, his message of inspiration is specifically designed for a township kid going through hardships and its references are also things we can relate to; things we have seen, experienced and lived.

Thebe’s ‘Bula Boot’ is another great example. Black South Africans have their own way of partying that is unique to us and this record captures that uniqueness to perfection. I can completely relate to it, and I know the majority of Black South Africa can too. Now there’s nothing wrong with making records about ‘poppin’ bottles’ and that sort of thing, however, you have to be mindful of the fact that most people’s reaction to your record will most likely be ‘A se mo States mo’ (translation”: this is not the States). Fans don’t want imported concepts and ideas from their South African artists; they want music they can feel and relate to.

Remember the formula? CwF (Connect with Fans) + RTB (Reason To Buy) = Success.

If you connect with fans, they will want to hear more of your music. In turn, radio stations will increase your rotation, so will music TV channels/programs.  Promoters will want you at their shows. Brands will want to use you for endorsements and sync your music in their ad campaigns. That’s how you WIN!!!

We all know Kwaito’s success story. Look at the core of what made the South African youth fall in love with the genre and you will realize that it went beyond the beat and the chants. There was a strong emotional connection; it was our own thing, it gave you a different feeling. I can say the same thing with the early 2000s Hip Hop scene, from Skwatta Kamp and Pro Kid to Hidden Force, H2O, Morafe, Tuks and others.

That was the only time South African Hip Hop artists regularly sold albums in large volumes. Skwatta Kamp’s ‘Mkhukhu Funkshen’ went platinum and so did Pitch Black Afro’s ‘Styling Gel’, Pro Kid’s ‘Heads & Tales’ shipped 15,000 units, and so on… Pro Kid was part of a Smirnoff campaign for their ‘Storm’ brand; he was also the face of the MTN’s campaign for the SAMA Awards. Skwatta was doing big things breaking down doors and putting SA Hip Hop on a whole different level. Right now Teargas, Mi Casa, Big Nuz, DJ Cleo and others are running the game and dominating charts, sales, awards, gigs and etc. They all make music that connects.

Next time you hit that booth, think about whom you are making music for.  As the late Dr Mageu would say, “A se mo States Mo!!!”


Hit me up:

Email: Thabiso.Khati@gmail.com

Twitter: @HipHopScholar

Twitter: @360Street

Till the next one.

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Film Review: A Million Colours

Director: Peter Bishai

Cast: Wandile Molebatsi, Jason Hartman, Masello Motana, Stelio Savante

“Right now all you see is black and white, but one day you will see a million colours!” These are the words of  Muntu Ndebele in Mzansi’s latest release on the big screen.

I must have been 3 years old when I first saw the film e’Lollipop on my great-grandmother’s black and white TV set, but I never forgot it. The film was about a black boy and a white boy, Tshepo and Jannie, whose friendship could only be separated by death. This film A Million Colours is based on the lives of Norman Knox and Muntu Ndebele after starring in the hit film e’Lollipop in the 70’s.

The film looks at what became of these two actors post the fame, exposure and tours around the world. Even though Norman and Muntu lived in contrasting worlds, they both had their struggles and fought to exist in our messed up country.

If you’re like me and are a sucker for love, then this film is worth watching again and again. The storyline mainly revolves around Muntu Ndebele and his struggles during a time of violence and his personal struggles with life, love, hustle, drugs and alcohol. Wandile Molebatsi gave the role his all and it is evident time and time again in the film. There are scenes where he did so well it took me by complete surprise that he was capable of such performances.

There are parts in the film that moved me from my seat, those that filled me with emotion and those that made me so darn proud to be South African! Such scenes include the beat-downs, body slams, ridicule, and straight up humiliation Muntu was willing to endure in the name of his love for Sabela, his high school sweetheart (acted by Masello Motana). There’s a scene where he was willing to have his IQ beat out of him in a stick fight against a Zulu warrior for his woman. That scene made me blush like a white girl because it was just so romantic!

Another favourite of mine is a scene where Bomba (Mpho Osei Tutu), the notorious gangster, steals Muntu’s car from right in front of him and still has the audacity to force him to help him push it, only to leave him behind in the middle of nowhere!

Unfortunately, there are also those few scenes and aspects of the film that disappointed me slightly. I would have loved to see most of the scenes play out a little longer because they had so much depth which could have been explored further.

There’s a tear jerking scene where Muntu’s mother disowns him and bans him from returning to the house until he decides to change his life. It is there that I got to see the variation in Wandile Molebatsi’s skill as an actor. It was brilliant! I wanted to Read the full story

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Honouring Our Heroes: Soldiers of the SS Mendi

They say we don’t have heroes. I say how can we have heroes when we write them out of the history books?

Let me tell you a story that you probably won’t find in the retelling of World War I or in any high school text book. I will tell you about real heroes. I will tell you about 607 brave sons of Africa who gave their lives on the morning of 21 February 1917 when the SS Darro - travelling at full speed and failing to emit any warning – rammed into the much smaller SS Mendi.

Within minutes the sea had swallowed the Mendi, leaving her sailors stranded in the roiling water. The crew of the Darro stood by, happy to let them drown – and drown they would have were it not for brisk action from the crew of the HMS Brisk who rowed among the survivors, rescuing as many as possible.

A total of 616 South Africans, including 607 black troops serving in the South African Native Labour Contingent, gave up their lives that glorious day and they dare say we don’t have heroes.

Stories were told of the troops’ bravery as the ship sank. One is that of Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha, who cried out, “Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to do… you are going to die, but that is what you came to do… I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers… Swazis, Pondos, Basotho… so let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa.”

They say we don’t have heroes, even while the sons of Africa danced barefoot on the tilting deck of the doomed Mendi before she plunged beneath the ocean. Even while Joseph Tshite, a schoolmaster from near Pretoria encouraged the drowning men in the waters around him with hymns and prayers until he too met his watery death.

The story of the SS Mendi is a story of courage in the face of death and valour between brothers in dire circumstances. The courage displayed by these men has remained a legend in South African military history. Read the full story

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The Bad Girl Effect: Why We Love Bad Girls

Khanyi Mbau pic from SowetanLive

South Africa loves its bad girls.

We pretend to be outraged, saddened, disgusted by their behaviour. But secretly we love them and all the accompanying drama and chaos in their lives.

Of course, being the conservative society we are, the whiff of impropriety that seems to hover over our bad girls makes us shrink back in horror. Unfortunately it is rarely enough to stop us from obsessively cataloguing all their faults and playing pseudo-psychologists to explain why these poor souls deserve sympathy not censure.

Khanyi Mbau has been SA’s bad girl since her debut on the small screen and our fascination with her peaked this weekend when naked pictures of her were allegedly leaked over Twitter.

Those who have appointed themselves custodians of our moral lives and immortal souls were immediately up in arms denouncing her scandalous behaviour. All the while making sure we all see the pictures by tweeting and retweeting the links.

This rabid denouement ensured the la Mbau trended well into the night in a way that would make any PR savvy media figure salivate. What interests me, however, is not Ms. Mbau’s second debut in her birthday suit. Far from it.

What caught my attention was the Twitter frenzy surrounding the eponymous #boobgirl. Yes, Boobgirl (The strangely appropriate name that a young lady was immediately christened with upon her debut on Twitter). If I need to explain the name, you are too young and should stop reading right now.

My point – and yes I do have a point – is that even as we reacted with shock and awe, even as we discussed ad nauseam our revulsion and pity… we clicked the follow button.

The upshot is that within a few short hours, this young lady had reached over a thousand new followers, a feat that many of us view not with a little envy. All she did was flash her admittedly impressive mammaries and South Africa was spellbound. Captivated. Tit-illated.

Let me say it again. South Africa loves its bad girls.

Admittedly, it’s more a love/hate relationship than any healthy fascination. In public we tut disapprovingly at their stunts but in private, we cheer them on because the world loves non-conformity; we like it when they score and watch gleefully as they crash and burn.

From Brenda Fassie to Vinolia Mashego to Nonhle Thema, our ‘love-to-hate-em’ relationship with bad girls is well-documented. We cheered for Ntsiki in the popular soapie Generations and picked Brooke over the sugar sweet Taylor in the Bold & The Beautiful, despite (or because of) her outrageous behaviour.

And why shouldn’t we? Bad girls are cheeky and arrogant and their stars burn bright while they are in the public eye. And maybe that’s why we love them. They say what we wish we could say, do all the crazy things we wish we could do and – more importantly – they appear to get away with it.

Think about that the next time you are tempted to turn your nose up at a bad girl, ask yourself one question: will my disapproval influence this bad girls’ behaviour in any way? The answer probably won’t surprise you and it just might stop you from pressing that retweet button and ensuring she gets all the attention she craves.

Take that, bad girls!


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The death of a rising star


Death is not a topic I prefer to write about, but it is something we never think about until it affects us. The death of a famous figure is always hard to hear in that it’s a reminder of just how short life is.

30 year old Muzi Clive Ngwenya was one of those up and coming talents Mzansi would have enjoyed watching, given the time and space to grow. His good looks, charming smile and presence was one that made him stand out as a youngster who had the making of what would have been a silver screen legend.  I believe that he could have done more films and shows for this country’s television industry that would have taken us to places where international filmmakers would have been in awe at just what SA can produce.

Best known as the runner up actor for Class Act season 1 in 2010 and his lead role as Simon Ndlovu in SABC’s Fallen in 2011, the actor had since taken up numerous roles in local films such as Second Chances, a film directed by Boikarabelo Motaung . He also stars in the movie called Winnie, which is about the life of struggle heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, starring Jennifer Hudson – it is due to be released this year. The Eldorado actor was described by those close to him as a gentle soul. He died tragically in his home on the 10th of January 2012 and will be laid to rest this Friday.



Poppy “Pops” Vilakazi

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Q&A with Adze Ugah

Introduce yourself to Kasi Times and where, how and why the love of film began for you.
As far back as I can remember I have always loved films. All it takes is for it to dazzle on the silver screen and it will have my complete and total attention. This was also helped by the fact that my father worked for our country’s (Nigeria) national broadcaster, so he was required to preview some films that the establishment had acquired, consequently, when he watched them I was also there watching with him. That was where it all began.

Apartheid South Africa saw Africans play stereotypical and oppressive roles. After Apartheid passed, SA movies however took a long time to develop and see black people in roles of power and influence. It’s 2011 Where are we now in terms of this?
Well, a bit of background first: every filmmaker is first and foremost a product of his or her own context. It is therefore not surprising for South African filmmakers to make films with themes that revolved around apartheid; this of course, was based on their world view and personal experiences… and make no mistake, these will never be exhaustive. More so, no one can ever tell these stories better than South Africans, it is their legacy and it is therefore their right to explore its socio-political impact. It is still very recent history and in my humble opinion I don’t think enough Justice has been done to apartheid themed films. I think there is still plenty of narrative ground to cover. There is a popular notion that these films have the potential of being depressing and could possibly alienate the audience. Not true, in my opinion, I don’t think a case will ever develop where South African audiences become gatvol of apartheid themed films. The presentation of the films might be tiresome but the stories and ideas will always be appealing to our audiences.  Slavery is as old as apartheid and even older, but stories with themes of slavery will never end.

That being said, we are currently in a state of stasis, and if we are to move forward, if anything must change, it is the presentation and the manner in which these stories are told.  A filmmaker is someone who knows just how much of everything is enough to tell a story in the most moving way possible. Indigenous films must be engaging as they are entertaining, their relevance will always be just a bonus. We must fine tune the art of telling our stories; this definitely implies that the present approach must change.

The South African films and doccies that do make it abroad are always of a negative nature, why is this? Read the full story

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My World 2 with Siphiwe Tshabalala

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this season of My World. The show has allowed celebrities the chance of being seen as normal people and has created celebrities out of normal people. South Africa was given the chance, the opportunity and platform to meet just 8 of Mzansi’s most talented characters in their respective fields.

We got to see who they really are when the press isn’t in their faces and we followed them and saw the people who have helped pave their journey towards success and stardom. We’ve had the chance to meet the people behind the big names that fill our social pages every Sunday. Tuesday’s episode of My World will be the last one but the series will not go out quietly. Siphiwe Tshabalala, Mzansi’s favourite soccer player will be taking us through the journey of his life, the 2010 world cup , his struggles and where exactly he is headed. The series indeed inspired, motivated and entertained Mzansi’s youth. Tune in once again on tonight at 9pm on SABC 1.

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My World 2 with Adze Ugah #MyWorld

Tonight we get a chance to sit in the director’s chair next to one of Mzansi’s most talented filmmakers of our time, Adze Ugah. The Nigerian born SAFTA winner takes us through his inspirational yet challenging journey of why, when and how he became one of the best and most versatile directors in this country. He turns the camera around and for a change allows the lens to focus on him, telling of how he got to create proudly Mzansi shows like Zone 14, Home Affairs, Society and Jacob’s cross. He explores where his love for showreels, cameras, lights, call sheets, tapes and clipboards all began.

Catch his inspiring story into the world of film and televisions tonight at 21H00 on SABC1 Mzansi Fo Sho!

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Q&A with Laduma Ngxokolo

Laduma Ngxokolo is the young talented designer behind the Maxhosa clothing line. His knitwear collection consists of merino wool and kid’s mohair blend knitwear pieces in different styles such as cardigans, waterfall cardigans, v-necks, shawl collar necks, pull-over’s and crew-neck jerseys. Laduma was one of the three South African designers that recently went to showcase their collection at London Fashion Week. I don’t know about you, but he is definitely one of my three favorite designers at the moment. I get to know the humble designer a little better with a series of emails…


You are one of South Africa’s best fashion designers at the moment. How has the experience been for you so far?

Awesome man! It makes me feel more confident about what I do. I must honestly say it puts me under pressure; fortunately, pressure keeps me going. I still look up to a lot of South African designers who have been around in the industry for a long time.

What does fashion and style mean to you?

I consider fashion as an artistic interaction between people; an environment without fashion would have been boring for me. I understand style as distinctive elements that make one unique from other individuals; it’s a character that one Read the full story

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Q&A with Kelly Esterhuyse

22-year-old designer Kelly Esterhuyse is this year’s winner of the Elle New Talent Design Awards. Kelly showcased her designs alongside 7 other hopefuls at this year’s South African Fashion Week recently. Trend analyst and chief judge of the competition Dion Chang had this to say about the show, “The level of entrants was high this year and the judges faced an enormous task to choose one winner.”

What raised Kelly’s work above that of her companion was her visionary use of a rather neglected South African gem – Mohair. Did you know that South African Mohair is some of the most sought-after Mohair in the world? Despite this fact South African designers have remained rather oblivious to it or they have simply shied away from the challenges it presents as a medium for design expression.

Well Kelly has boldly gone where no man has gone before (I was once a Star Trek fan). She tackled this precarious element and came out the victor. Dion Chang added, “Ultimately what made Kelly’s range stand apart was her ingenious use of a much underutilized resource in South Africa – merino wool.  Knitwear has not appeared in a major way in this competition before and we liked her use of a local, indigenous textile which needs to be promoted.” Read the full story

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London Fashion Week with Stiaan Louw – S/S 2012 Collection

Stiaan Louw is one of my favorite South African fashion designers and you won’t be surprised why. The talented designer recently went to showcase his collection at London Fashion Week.  His Grecian-Arabian-Persian look with a modern and African touch consisting of shorts, slouchy trousers and kaftan pieces of different shapes and sizes and shawls left the crowd with no jaws in astonishment. Stiaan used bright colors like brown, grey and yellow and accessorized some of the outfits with sling bags and jewelry, finishing of the look with Middle Eastern inspired sandals.

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Starting a Small Business in Mzansi

So you want to start a business…

When I decided to start a business I didn’t know anything about business, small or otherwise, leaving a safe, comfortable job and going into a high risk venture. In time I learned that it was a much bigger step than I had originally thought. Starting a small business has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life; it has been challenging and character-building.

Firstly, you have to know that you are going to make a lot of mistakes, perhaps even lose some potential clients on the way. Some of the mistakes might seem obvious but they are not obvious to the people that make them. This is a firsthand account of life at the frontline with tips and advice on how to make your small business a success and as painless as possible.

Here are some tips:

  • Think out everything in advance. Don’t assume miracles will happen somewhere along the way.
  • Know your target market.
  • Don’t rely on people providing labour for love, even if they have equity in the business. Most people drop out when it gets hard… and it usually does at some stage.
  • Don’t employ more people than you really need – too many cooks spoil the soup.
  • Make sure your business venture is viable.
  • Do proper research on your competitors and your customers.

Sometimes all it takes is for another party to point something out to you that can save a lot of money, or avoid a lot of pain. Listen to what everyone has to say with an open mind; even if you decide not to take their advice, this might help you avoid common traps.

My business is still subject to all the risks and challenges that are faced by other small businesses. I’m not an expert in small business management, but I have learned a lot in the past 6 years and I’m still learning every day. The aim is to help you learn from my experiences and the experiences of other small business people I have met over the past few years.

Make no mistake; starting a small business is not easy. Small businesses have a high rate of failure. A third of them fail in the first year, and just over a half within three years. Some people get into business thinking it will be much like the job they were in except that they’ll be their own boss. It doesn’t quite work that way. With a regular job you can go home at the end of the day and leave your work behind. When it’s your own business work becomes part of your life, whether you’re working or not. Oh and get used to the idea of working longer hours and probably less pay to start with!

It’s impossible to start a business without risks but this is not a reason to not go into business. Fear of failure can stop you from doing most of the things in life that are worth doing. Rather what you must do is make allowance in your plans for failure, so that rather than losing your home after an unsuccessful business venture, you can instead take a couple of months off, lick your wounds and do something else.

On a positive note, there’s no boss to give you a hard time and you can set up your business to suit your lifestyle. Your skills and experience will grow at an amazing rate. A business associate once said to me that in entrepreneurship, the lows are lower but when things go well, they can really go well.

Starting a business will change your life. Depending on the business you are pursuing, it will probably mean long hours, stress and risk-taking, and it will be hard on your family. On the other hand, you will find yourself doing things that you never thought you were capable of. It will bring out the best in you because starting a business is a very personal experience and I hope your journey with us will help you gather enough information to give your business every possible chance.

By Faith Mbele

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