Author: sinawobookani

Ofentse Mwase is a filmmaker who grew up in the great city of Rustenburg in the North West Province, and now resides in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ofentse’s infatuation with film and cameras started in 2005 and led to his enrolment at AFDA (The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance) to study film and cinematography. Ofentse graduated with an Honours Degree in Cinematography in 2011.

Ofentse was voted AFDA Best Cinematographer of 2010 for this work on the Short film IGOLIDE, shot on 16mm Kodak film. Further accolades include a nomination for AFDA Best Cinematography for his work on the short film “The Hajji” shot in in 2011.Thato, a Sterkinekor commercial shot in 2011 on 35mm Kodak Film by Ofentse was also nominated for the prestigious Loerie Award and went on to win a Silver Loerie in the Student Commercials category.

Greatest Achievement thus far as a Music Video director was winning Music Video of the Year in the 2017 South African Music Awards (SAMA) for his video for Miss Pru titled Ameni.

With over 9 years experience in Film, Commercials and Music Videos, Ofentse is set to be one to look out for in the South African film industry as he continues to be involved in great projects for TV and Commercials.

Here are Ofentse’s achievements thus far:


  • Best Film: ISAZELA (2009 Joburg Arts Festival)
  • Best Cinematographer: IGOLIDE (AFDA 2010 Awards)
  • Nominated for Best Cinematography: The Hajji (AFDA 2011 Awards)
  • Best Film: The Hajji (AFDA 2011 Awards)
  • Best Commercial: Thato (AFDA 2011 Awards)
  • Silver Loerie: Thato (Loerie Awards 2012)
  • Official Selection: The Hajji (Durban International Film Festival 2013)
  • Best Music Video: Lundi – Noma Sekutheni Na (Crown Gospel Awards 2014)
  • Best Music Video: Roll Up – Emtee (Metro FM Awards 2016)
  • Best Music Video: Miss Pru – Ameni (SAHHA 2016)
  • Music Video of the Year: Miss Pru – Ameni (SAMA 2017)
  • Best Short Film: Durban International Film Festival 2017 – The Hangman
  • Best Short Film: Zanzibar International Film Festival 2017 – The Hangman
  • Sembene Ousman Award of Excellence: Zanzibar International Film Festival 2017 – The Hangman

Ofentse Mwase is Umuzi’s ‘Creative Crush’ today – we are celebrating the work that goes beyond the hype. Couldn’t think about anyone else than Uncle Scrooch. He is changing the visual game in South Africa and he doesn’t seem to be stopping soon. Well done Ofentse for all your achievements, you are an amazing inspiration to the future of this country. To see the incredible work of Ofentse Mwase follow him here —-> FacebookTwitterInstagramVimeoYoutube.

Verona Banda is an Umuzi alumni, a freelance Art Director and self-taught Photographer. She’s also the founder and host of a project called ‘Play Again, Live Again’ a playful reminder of outdoor games enjoyed by children in and around South African townships.

Verona Banda - The Help

One of Verona’s series which she recently created was nominated for a #COM. The Umuzi Creative of the Month #COM is a deliberate attempt to celebrate creatives within our community. We hope with each nomination and with each win, current recruits and our alumni are inspired to create and exhibit their best work!

The Behance published series titled ‘The Help’ is a celebration and appreciation of women who leave their own homes to go and take care of other families. One out of every five women in South Africa is a domestic worker and are predominantly found in middle class households – they’re often black or colored women.

Domestic helpers perform a variety of services for families who’ve employed them. They usually provide care for children and housekeeping which includes cleaning and household maintenance. Theirs is a selfless and demanding full time job, even though most times it is very undervalued and undermined. Many of them are live in domestics who spend most of their lives raising other people’s children.

Verona’s work seeks to summon attention and to humanize domestic workers not just as helpers but as partakers who play indispensable roles in society. They are entrusted with the responsibility of being caregivers who have a nurturing spirit, always offering a set of hands whenever traditional parents need them.

A lot of families can testify that having a domestic worker has brought them closer and helped them build a stronger bond, relieving them of pressures and needs that have well been taken care of by their helper.

We are super proud of Verona and her exemplary attempt to dignify this profession. You’ve done a great job. Enjoy your prize!

To check out the rest of her series, CLICK HERE.

Since, its inception, Umuzi has tirelessly committed itself to be a community that offers a home for creatives. We are passionate educators that aim to develop the next generation of Strategists, Coders, Multimedia storytellers and Creatives (Copywriters / Conceptual Designers) through human centred design.

Art is often seen as more of a hobby than a career in many communities in South Africa. Therefore many of our recruits enter our space with little confidence. They haven’t yet felt encouraged to pursue their passion. A large part of what we do centres around developing the confidence to see yourself as an artist who can make a career doing what you love.There has never been a more exciting time to be a black creative than right now! We’ve witnessed our alumni and current recruits owning and telling their stories through their art, continuously contributing their voice and celebrating original narratives.We take pride in being a space that gives creatives a chance to choose who they want to become. Our academy is where one comes to learn and get paid for it through our learnership program. This way, our recruits never have to pay to study.

With many current and potential students facing exclusion from higher education because of unaffordable fees and outdated methods of education, Umuzi offers itself as a solution that provides access to tailored and innovative education that ensures young people can start meaningful careers in the creative sector.

Year in and year out, with every recruitment campaign, Umuzi attracts applicants from all over the country, even enticing attention from other parts of the continent. Because Cape Town has also brought in large numbers of applicants, we thought it best to make a second home out of the friendly city!

We’ve also witnessed that the industry in Cape Town is in dire need of transformation and desegregation. Umuzi aims to facilitate the coming together of young aspiring creatives and organizations that need more authentic content.


Yes, Cape Town, you heard right! Recruitment is now open, the door has widened for you also join our community of award-winning creatives.

We’re excited to announce our first ever Cape Town recruitment. Apply now and give yourself the opportunity of following your passion! CLICK HERE TO APPLY NOW


We’re excited to announce that the exhibition, which continues to be a celebration and exploration of language will be showcased at 2 Gordon Street, Gardens as part of the Cape Town First Thursdays programme

Umuzi is once again partnering with AFROPUNK to offer up a thought-provoking exploration of language in Southern Africa as a complex singularity – a river system in a dynamic flow full of all the different styles of speech around us, and their graphic representation in different systems of writing, not just the Roman alphabet that we learn at school, but the writing systems that are indigenous to this continent.

The RINGA! exhibition is curated by Umuzi, showcasing the diverse artistry and interpretations of the theme by young South African artists within the Umuzi community. Through their work, they interrogate the relationships between the visual and oral of language in this region of the world.

Language has always been an undeniable cornerstone of how we express, communicate and understand each other. It’s how we embrace one another and determine if we are heard and listened to.

Language shapes how we define the world around us and most importantly how we align our true selves to certain beliefs and values. Come join us this Thursday and uncover exciting artworks that speak to both official and nonofficial everyday language, from Is’Camtho and Tsotsitaal to IsiMpondro and Tshivenḓa, incorporating various writing systems, such as isiBheqe Sohlamvu (Ditema tsa Dinoko), Adinkra symbols of West Africa, the Mandombe script of Congo, the Zẖȝ n Mdw-Nṯr of ancient Egypt, or the Jawi ajami for writing Afrikaans in Arabic characters.

Ringa! is bringing language to the fore in a way you’ve never seen before. Be sure to make your way to this First Thursday as we exhibit unusual reflections on taal in sound and image.

RSVP to the event HERE!

South Africa is a country full of amazing people, who have a rich history, exciting stories and lived experiences to share. Our diverse community of creatives is no different, they hold incredible tales of struggle, triumph, tragedy and great success.

The aim of our new Podcast Series ‘Backroom’ is to check-in with our alumni members and hear the unique stories that have landed them at our doorstep and find out where life has led them after their time at Umuzi. Our very first guest is Thohoyandou born and raised Michael ‘Mikey’ Mashila Mashau.

When Mikey made the brave move to Johannesburg two years ago, he only had R200 in his pocket, a one way bus ticket to Park Station, a blanket, a bag and big aspirations that his journey would make his dreams come true.

As with most things in life, Mikey’s ambition came with great adversity. But that has never stood in the way of his fierce determination which motivated him to build a passionate career in Digital Marketing. His gift has always been about building relationships, and this has inspired a lot of people to open their hearts and spaces to support his dream.

uMalume & Mikey Mashila during The Backroom Interview at the Umuzi.Org studios.

Mikey’s self sufficiency also challenged him to remember that he was destined for greater things. At one stage in his life, when he was homeless for about three weeks, he was forced to have a moment of self-reflection that demanded him to make a drastic change in his life.

Not being one who shies away from a challenge, Mikey’s journey has been truly uplifting to our growing community. Affectionately known as the  ‘Digital God’, a nickname he got from his former manager and mentor Keith Kunene, Mikey is a digital whiz with an impressive social media following of over 23k and an insatiable knack for all things trending and digital media.

Mikey has done the necessary and hard work of re-routing this path away from homelessness, to being a brand ambassador at Lovelife, a digital recruit at Umuzi and now a fully-fledged Community Manager for some of the biggest brands South Africa has to offer.

We’re proud to call Mikey one of our own, his story truly is fascinating and inspiring. Listen to Mikey’s Backroom trailer and Join the WhatsApp group to listen to the full interview.

Join the WhatsApp Podcast group to listen to Mikey’s full story and ask him questions.


Brands Mikey has worked with: 

Coke South Africa 
Thiko Events
Massive Metro

When Umuzi decided to host its first InstaMeet and the Cohort 4 Digital Marketing Team became the group that was officially entrusted with the brief, I don’t remember once feeling burdened with the responsibility but mostly excited to be taking determined baby steps towards making company history.

Almost immediately the team interpreted the global theme into a spirited commemoration of Food, specifically focusing on how food continues to bring us together, helping us celebrate special moments and show our loved ones that we are always thinking of them.

Umuzi was determined on putting its own personal imprint to the whole event, so we derived a hashtag that was inspired by the different kinds of foods that would aid all foodies in reminiscing the countless memories of very significant times in their lives.


The event planning consisted of innumerable meetings, purposefully driving us to our predetermined goals, there were as many frustrations in the two weeks of preparations as there were major victories. The biggest success of them all being the day of the amazing event.

The event began with our invited guests arriving, registering and being given tokens that allowed them to freely fill up their empty goodie bags with ten things from our Spaza Shop; a deliberate replica that mimicked the same invention as those we still find everyday on pavements and street corners. The only difference with our Spaza Shop is that it was stocked with items that would reawaken childhood memories, everything from Apple Munches, Drink O Pops, Fizzers, Bibos, Nik Naks and more. The reactions to our creation were all so worth it, each item inspiring our foodies to share a sentimental story relating to what they chose.

The Umuzi InstaMeet consisted of different visits to three locations; a starter at Thabo’s Chesa Nyama that was made up of Kebab Sticks and Mealies; a meal that was intended to embrace diverse memories as well as comprise of a unique and modern touch. This is where we spent most of our time, jovially enthralled in casual bursts of conversation and laughter.

The main course was enjoyed at the Downstairs Diner, where our meal options ranged between Dombolo & Beef Stew and Pap & Tripe. For some, the decision was quite difficult to make, I was pleased to observe that most of our guests refused to choose and asked to have their plates filled with both of the meat options.

As the sun began to set, we made our last walk of the day, all the way into Maboneng to Coco Bella for our dessert. The idea behind this one was motivated by the coloured ice cream cones we all ate as children. We had to unfortunately alternate that option for the sweet cones they offered, but nothing was lost as we giddily licked on the dripping caramel and enjoyed our vanilla flavoured ice cream.



The whole weekend consisted of creating new memories, unlocking and reliving memories that we hadn’t even realized had long been tucked away. Even the Umuzi Recruits that weren’t with us on the day were encouraged to share their most nostalgic food memories on our InstaMeet hashtag #DownFoodieLane, so they could join the global event by letting everyone know what they were eating. Our Instagram Influencers also did a great job of posting very beautiful pictures of the event under the same hashtag.

If you missed the event and the chance to participate, please search the hashtag #DownFoodieLane on Instagram to better understand what our day was made of. It is said after all that seeing for yourself always leads to unquestionable belief.






Written by: Sinawo Bukani

Images by: Sipho Biyam

Photograph by Zwelizwe Ndhlovu

Photograph by Zwelizwe Ndhlovu

The only thing I remember about my first time ever visiting Johannesburg is Lwazi; the boy whose mother had packed for him ‘umphako’ of a full grilled chicken, a 2 litre Cabana juice and cheese sandwiches for the ‘road.’ She was obviously just another parent who didn’t realize it would only take us an hour and fifteen minutes to reach our destination. We were a group of pupils that had been selected to represent the different schools in East London and we were headed for a Department of Education function in Pretoria. And like me, Lwazi must have been the first in his family to ever fly on a plane. The teachers teased him relentlessly when they found out but still made sure to finish eating every last piece of the young boy’s meat.

I remember mostly the nausea about that trip, I was expecting to be excited about being up in the air but I wasn’t at all, instead being so high up in the air unnerved me immensely. I also remember going home after my trip and telling my mother ‘One day I will go on trips that really matter to me.’ She thought I was being ungrateful but that still didn’t change the fact that those 3 days certainly felt like such a total waste of my time. I might have not understood it back then, but I believe I was already being burdened with a yearning for more substance and fulfillment in my life.

Looking back now I realize that unsettling feeling has been chasing after me ever since, until about two months ago when I eventually succumbed to that insistent voice that’s always wanted me to be more. With a resignation letter in hand on a very hot January morning, I walked into my boss’ office and closed a chapter on a life I had spent many years building. Basically saying goodbye to all the things I needed for society to approve me as a ‘successful adult’, giving it all up for the unknown. I just wanted to quit feeling like a fraud, living a life I didn’t want and just like that I pulled out the plug on everything I knew.

And today I find myself at the last day of boot-camp at Umuzi. If you would have told me about a month ago that I’d be in Johannesburg again, cradled in the hands of my destiny, maybe I wouldn’t have believed you. I have travelled long and far to be here, and I’ve had to make promises to my mother, guaranteeing her of too many things I have no control over just so I could ease her panic and dismay.

When I walked into Umuzi for my interview it was like nothing I had expected, coming from a previous background of a stringent corporate world, it was certainly a complete contrast. When I first saw how everyone was dressed and how beautiful it was on the inside, I could definitely see that it was truly a place for creatives. I remember telling a friend later that night that ‘it’s the kind of place you want to show off to someone you are falling in love with.’ Even though my story of how I ended up as an applicant at Umuzi is already one of my most favourite to tell but having been here for the last five days has truly been the best experience for me. I’ve met the coolest people ever and yesterday when I watched the seniors skateboard around the open plan, to me that affirmed how much I don’t want to be anywhere else but at Umuzi for the next year, contributing and growing as a writer and as a creative thinker.

Written by: Sinawo Bukani

Photograph by: Zweli Ndhlovu