Category: Umuzi

The complexity of being “born free” or “a democracy baby” in an unjust, unequal South Africa means that every day is a constant juggle between gratitude and frustration. On one hand you’re aware and in awe of the sacrifices and bloodshed that made todays freedom possible, while on the other hand the knowing that there is still so much more to be done breeds frustration. Frustration with our government, our expectations of “A Better Life for All” and even a frustration with our ideas of what it means to be young and black in a democratic South Africa.

For most young people politics were a thing of prime time news, academia, elders and parliamentary chambers, or so it seemed. In recent months (perhaps even years) the #hashtag generation (Arab Spring, #BlackLivesMatter, #FeesMustFall, #RhodesMustFall) has proven that by all means necessary, young people will mobilize and they will be heard.

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No amount of Madiba Magic or collection of our parent’s contribution to the liberation struggle will excuse us from doing the work of today. More and more young people are beginning to realise that politics are not debates and decisions made by a few elite for the vast majority. Politics are personal, they are about your life and they are about the here and the now.

While the legacy of liberation slips through the fingers of certain parties and younger, rumbustious ones gain momentum, the struggle of parties to engage young people in politics is probably a lot harder today than it was say 40 years ago in 1976. Who deserves our votes? Who is truly fighting for us and our future? Now that Mandela is gone, who steps in? Where is the leader that mirrors us? that commands our admiration?

Following the commemoration of 40 years since the Soweto Uprisings and in prelude to Mandela Day Umuzi asks young people what their thoughts are regarding Mandela Day, upcoming municipal elections and the state of politics 22 years into South Africa’s democracy and so we present; #dipolotiki: the politics of politcs, coming to a screen near Monday 18th July 2016.

The youngest member of Velocity Afrika, filmmaker and director of  Hangman , Zwelethu Radebe came through to the Umuzi studio to give a masterclass on his journey as film maker and story teller.

Perseverance, endurance and the hunger to prove yourself sit on the top of the list of what passion looks like for Zwelethu, that said, the ultimate and most important aspect of it all is telling authentic and relevant stories.

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Zwelethu’s love for film-making started from a young age when he would watch and study films and that drove him. He would go to the library and download scripts and work with those to develop his love for the industry. He got through school using the funding he received from film-making competitions.

“There is always something to say or another way for you to do something; limiting yourself because of funding, equipment or situation is allowing yourself failure before you even start,” he cautioned. Zweli never waited for things to come to him, and that pushed him even further. That where his uniqueness lies.

His mantra, and constant driving force is the desire to tell stories and the “importance of the African story.” He looks at situation from all angles and considers just what it means for our country and the local film industry. Zweli sites Nollywood, and how big they are becoming- bigger than Hollywood even – just by creating stories with what they have and however they can. “You can never have enough stories for a lifetime,” and that is where our power lies.

The projects he’s worked on include television ads and promos, most notably Mzansi Magic’s The Road, one for Ster-Kinekor and a more recent project called The Hangman; a movie documenting the story of self-discovery in South Africa during apartheid, which he is releasing later this year.

Take what people say you can’t do as a personal challenge, and don’t be dictated by your failures, is the biggest lesson I have taken from the talk given by Zweli and that in a way has calmed the storm of self-doubt in probably everyone’s head.

Written by: Karabo Seloane

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The One Club Creative Bootcamp finally comes to Joburg from the 11-15of July 2016 and Umuzi Academy is proud to announce its participation in one of the most prestigious creative boot camps in the world.

A 4-day workshop that introduces students to the creative side of advertising from the ground up, the One Club Creative Bootcamp provides emerging creatives with the opportunity to learn more about the advertising industry, network as well as receive valuable advice from top industry creatives and executives.

Having successfully run Creative boot camps in cities such as Chicago and San Francisco, the One Club Creative Bootcamp ascended on South African shores last year to conduct the very first South African One Club Creative Bootcamp and after a successful inception in Cape Town, this year Johannesburg finds itself amongst the list of participating cities.

Providing a great opportunity for creatives in Johannesburg and South Africa to contribute to excellence in advertising the One Club partners with top agencies such as FCB, M&C Saatchi, Joe Public, King James and top brands such as Vodacom and Protea Hotel.

Umuzi is honoured to be one of the selected institutions to partake in the inaugural Johannesburg One Club Creative Bootcamp and wish our recruits the all the best. Hot sh!t, k’phela!

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Don’t even bother trying to look up the term ‘Black Girl Magic’ and what it means, because all you have to do is have a simple conversation with Milusithando Bongela aka Miss Milli B to experience it. Umuzi was alive with conversation on last Thursday when the editor of the Mail and Guardian Friday, joined us in studio. At 31, Milli B is like that intangible beauty with star dust in her soul, dark brown skin, wise golden words in her belly and ‘woke’ inspiration for days.

“Our role as writers is to interpret the world for people,” she humbly stated during what she stubbornly refused to call a ‘Masterclass’ session, because she doesn’t even consider herself to be one.

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“Me coming in here as a ‘master’ to come talk to you guys is nerve wrecking for me. I don’t like to see myself so superimposed,” she gushed, once more, having a modest view of her importance. Laughs – but we know better. She obviously has a disdain for motivational talking but her story resonates so much truth for the average black creative out there, trying by all means to make it big.

After getting her journalism degree from Rhodes University, Milli embarked on her journey to becoming the sum of so many things.

With the desire to make something interesting out of her life, Milli became a fashion assistant, worked at bars to make extra cash, failed her driver’s license a record of four times! Yes, four times, but still kept on pushing. With her enduring spirit, she eventually hustled her way to the city of gold.

“The train to the Joburg station is closed now. However, now that we are ‘woke’ and ‘broke’ what next?” she questioned, challenging us to really define what it is we are trying to accomplish as creatives in a world full of so much irrelevance.

Touching on the ‘comparison monster’ and how difficult it is to develop a unique voice, she had this to say: “As a writer and as a creative, your emotional health is extremely important.” In depth, her words resonate character and how vital it is to sometimes switch off the internet and harness some alone time. “Listen to your silence,” she urged.

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“We get to a stage in life where the hustle is not cute anymore,” she then joked, reflecting on how her overall goal is to shine light on the immense beauty of black people. “I’m not trying to be a New York Times Bestseller, I’m trying to help my people, build a farm at home and educate the people. We need to work for the next generations, so that they don’t have to try and unlearn the cruelty of the world.” There is power in the way she stood so firm on her selfless purpose to enlighten people.

She then spoke on the importance of infiltrating institutions like the Mail and Guardian where she currently works. “These institutions are ours too. Any publication not tapping into what the youth is doing is not going to survive.” Best believe she’s doing some awesome things as an editor and is not going to stop there.

In the spirit of creative endurance, which is what Umuzi is all about, I urge you all to persevere for you never know what your stars hold. So what is it that you’re doing to infiltrate the industry? Food for thought?

By Janneth Mazibuko

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No matter how smart, talented, driven and creative a person is, their success in life somehow also depends on their ability to build and inspire others.

We live in a world where all we crave is validation, especially in a creative hub like Umuzi, where from time to time ego’s clash. There is nothing worse than trying to get productivity out of a team of uninspired, demotivated and frustrated creatives. Through our observations, our team got together and introduced the “This is your moment to…” values wall. For the first week, we created a platform for people to air out all of their “Dirty Laundry.”

At Umuzi, we believe in saying it like it is, and boy did people come to the party this time. Through an anonymous series of letters, we got all the juice. From the secret crushes, crazy fantasies, bisexual and abortion confessions, suicide notes and notes to management. People put their laundry out there for all to see.

Finding freedom of expression, the studio was lit. When people got to read everyone’s secret confessions, they realized that they’re not alone. We all have issues and demons that we’re still learning to tame. All we have to do is find common ground and learn to share our stories.

Building each other up is a big part of what Umuzi is about. After all the hype surrounding the “Dirty Laundry” campaign, we got people to respond. The amount of love, humour and support the campaign received was admirable. Positive vibes is all a person ever really needs to get back in the creative zone.

Reflecting back on all that has happened, the Umuzi values wall AKA the “This is your moment to…” wall was a huge success. Not only do the recruits now have a reminder of the values but they also have a platform for expression.

A chance to be heard with any issues about work, management, relationships and life in general. I think we can safely say that the values are now more than just words, but a lifestyle that we all hope to embody not only as individuals but as an academy of passionate young creatives.

Written by: Janneth Mazibuko

Photographer: Lutendo Malatji

Poster Design: Nosipho Nxele

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Thousands of students marched to the Union Buildings in protest for #FeesMustFall. The peaceful protest became violent, that’s despite President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of a no fee increase for 2016 – the police used stun grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

Umuzi photographers were on the ground and captured these powerful images.

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Photo cred: Kgomotso Neto Tleane, Thapelo Motsumi

Written by: Mongezi Lupindo

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South Africa is witnessing a revolution that can only be led by young people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. This is the Soweto Uprising, reloaded and on steroids.

Students from all over the country have united under the protest movement of the #FeesMustFall campaign. It is high-time a movement rises from our learning institutions. Varsity fees continue to rise above inflation, and have become almost impossible for even middle-class families to afford.

Higher fees have become a filter in our society. They separate the haves and have-nots. If you do not have the money, you don’t get quality education. Simple as that. Segregation is no longer just race based, it is financially based. The poor are trapped by their limited education and the poverty continues from one generation to the next.

I was fortunate enough to get out of this cycle. I was afforded an opportunity to go to an expensive private school. My grandmother sacrificed her retirement package for my tuition. I simply couldn’t afford to fail. This was my only chance to free myself and my family from a cycle of poverty. I was my family’s hope.

We, as black people are poor (most, not all). When we were hopping out of taxis and buses our fellow white students would arrive in new German sedans. While we chipped in for bread and chips to share, our white counterparts we discussing where the best lattes can be found and how awesome their Woollies salads were. This financial divide was in our face. It hurt but served as fuel to my fire. I completed my studies and graduated with flying colours. The poorer students simply couldn’t afford the fees and had to drop out. Being one of the only six black people in my class, I really, really had to out-work everybody to make sure my grandmother’s sacrifice was not in vain. Now that I reflect on my personal journey, I fully understand the frustration of the students of today. I was among the lucky ones. The cost of education is too high.

We, the former students, today’s employed, need to stand up, side-by-side with today’s student protesters. We were once where they are. Let us participate. Let us fight along side them. Let us protect them from opportunists who want to dismiss their cause, or create funny memes and hashtags that derail the serious matter at hand. I guess it is easier to make a mockery of a just cause from a comfortable, air conditioned office with your degree certificate already nailed to the wall.

Just like our parents did in 1976, the class of 2015 will endure through the teargas, rubber bullets, police beatings and vilification. Their victory is certain. HAUWENG!

Written by: Kgosi Motshidi

Photo cred: Kgomotso_Neto

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Last night, at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, Umuzi was honoured to receive the Business Arts South Africa Development Award for our extraordinary partnership with Investec, the Umuzi Academy. “Potential without opportunity will remain but potential,” said Setlogane Manchidi, Head of Corporate Social Investment at Investec, after the awards. We would like to thank Investec for seeing the potential in our vision to develop the next generation of creative professionals from eKasi, and for working with us to realise it.

18th BASA Awards_Highlights-028We are thrilled to receive this award and grateful to BASA for recognising all the hard work so many people have put in, over many years, to create the Umuzi Academy. As we celebrate, we remain humbled by how much more there is for us to do to realise our full potential. But with partners like Investec, we feel confident that the Umuzi Academy will keep rising to the challenge of supporting young creatives to realise their potential.

Check out the full interview below with highlights from the evening. 

 Written by: Zuleka Pukwana

Setlogaone Manchidi From Investec Speaking at the Umuzi Graduation

We are very excited to announce that Umuzi, in partnership with Investec, has been nominated for the Development Award by Business Arts South Africa (BASA). The awards ceremony takes place this Monday, 21st September 2015 at the Constitutional Court. BASA promotes and celebrates business-arts partnerships that benefit and uplift society.

Setlogane Manchidi, Head of Corporate Social Investment at Investec, captures the essence of the Investec-Umuzi, business-arts partnership best, when he says, “It’s a celebration of dreams accompanied by action. For dreams without action remain just dreams.”

Umuzi had a dream to develop the next generation of creative professionals from eKasi. Investec were bold enough to believe in our dream and partner with us to make it a reality. We’re proud that this extraordinary business-arts partnership is being recognised by BASA. And our fingers are crossed for Monday night.

Written by: Zuleka Pukwana

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Spring cleaning (noun)

Pronounced as spring-klee-ning

The activity of giving a place a complete cleaning, done traditionally in the spring of the year.

The first weekend of spring was dedicated to spring cleaning whether you wanted to or not, being woken up by your mom yelling out your name at 07h00 in the morning whilst gospel music plays in the background.  Pretending you didn’t hear her so that you can savour 5 more minutes of your precious sleep.

Here’s a list of spring cleaning tasks we had to do that annoyed us to bits;

  • Washing blankets, nope not in a washing machine but in a bath tub and having to stomp on them to get the dirt out. At least we got a full body workout
  • Washing walls with a scrubbing brush,
  • Polishing all the brass or gold taps with Brasso, the taps looked good but your hands look like you’ve become a part-time mechanic
  • Having to wash windows then wipe them with a newspaper – that’s the trusted no streaks technique, but the window has burglar proof bars so it’s never perfect.
  • Packing away all the winter clothes and making sure the wardrobes are clutter free.

Spring cleaning, although disliked, is one of the best bonding sessions for the whole family.  Everyone is allocated a task and they deliver so that no one gets shouted at by mommy dearest.  At the end mom is so happy that she cooks a feast fit for the hard working and no-complaints-about-the-cleaning-done family.

Written by: Caswelldin Tau

Photo Cred: Oz Mulungo

Poster Design: Tshidiso Mohafa