In a lovely, friendly atmosphere combined with an air of excitement and anticipation, I watched the alumni trickle in. The mood was palpable, watching them reconnect with the young’ns they’d left behind, while reluctantly acknowledging the newbies. I sat in a secluded corner, observing the different generations of Umuzi interact.
Welcome to The Honey.
The Honey, according to me, is a love story about the ultimate ekasi experience and the big and small nuances that make it special. It features Gavini (Kgomotso Tleane) and his honey, Honey (Rendani Nemakhavhani). Consisting of 4 chapters it tells different stories and is inspired by the South African series, Yizo Yizo.Shot by Kgomotso and Bantu, the chapters first show Honey; however as the story unfolds Gavini pops up to add a little masculinity and gangster flair to the story.
Really good advice from these two amazing creatives is “ use what you can find… What you’ve known and experiences throughout your life.” I noticed a great chemistry between Rendani and Kgomotso which also comes across in the imagery.
Random meets and ideas are the real birth of how The Honey came about and like Rendani says, “ We just stuck together.” And from there they’ve had an abundance of opportunities, not only to showcase their work but also to reach other creatives and the layman. And their success shows, recently they were approached by J&B to be the face of the launch of J&B Honey.
In closing, the creators of The Honey believe in creating content that is relatable. “Keep creating work and shit will come your way… When people aren’t seeing your light, don’t wait for them to highlight you”; “You are your own blesser”.
They are working on a new project so look out for that.
Written by Asithandile Mbalu
Photos by Thapelo Motsumi
Our education philosophy is to create situations in which people have to learn. We don’t believe lectures and textbooks are the best way to learn to swim. You have to get into the water and paddle. In a recruit’s first weeks at Umuzi, they rotate through our departments, working in multidisciplinary teams to complete a series of briefs. Our managers focus on coaching the teams through the creative process, while the teams teach themselves how to overcome technical problems. With this approach, our new recruits have produced some amazing work. More importantly, they’re building confidence in their ability to teach themselves. This week we profile our newest recruits diving into the deep end.
You’d swear Kgomotso ‘Neto’ Tleane was born under a lucky star because he keeps finding favour in all that he does. The young photographer keeps on winning and we’ve never been prouder of our former recruit
This time, a striking image he took during the epic #FeesMustFall movement last year has been featured on billboards all around South Africa. After being approached by VIP Magazine, he then got to work with The Odd Number (an advertising agency in Sandton), where his and four other photographers powerful images were selected for a campaign call #2X.
#2X aims to make ‘X’ the political symbol used during voting, a more powerful representation of the youth’s will and engagement.
The billboard photo series are officially live and are now being used to encourage the youth to vote. Talk about not just doing amazing work but impactful work as well, that sets out to make a positive difference.
“I took those shots after the student march on my way to UJ from Wits,” he stated, elaborating on how he actually had to find the random people in the shot and get their approval. It wasn’t an easy task, but he kept on trying and boy was it worth it.
Well done Kgomotso, keep on shining your light unto the world and keep on being an example of young, gifted and talented African creatives.
Written by Janet Mazibuko
This week we are bringing it home and dedicating the entire week to our community. These are the young men and women who have been through our programmes as far back as 2009 and are now soaring in the creative world.
This week we will profile our Alumni in diverse industries, all striving to be the best and challenging the narrative in their own way.
Our community will be doing everything from #CCM (Creative Crush Monday) to delivering a Masterclass. iLife ifana nama dice this week so enjoy as our community brings it back home.
Featured this week:
Mow Ignatious Xhosa
Kgomotso Neto Tleane
Lebogang Rasethaba graced our studios yesterday dripping with swag, charm and humility. With his latest project ‘The People vs The Rainbow Nation’ causing a stir since it aired on MTV Base in April, one would assume Lebogang would kick off his session by enlightening us with tales of his success and accomplishments right? Well – we were delightfully surprised when he took a totally different direction. Being the awesome film maker and radically cool person that he comes off to be, Lebogang literally left the ball in our court with admirable ease by allowing us to lead the conversation.
And so it began. In Q and A style, we got to reflect on his latest and thrilling MTV collaboration short film ‘The People vs The Rainbow Nation.’ This short film is centred on the fallacy that is this ‘new’ supposedly liberated South Africa that we live in. It also effortlessly highlights themes of a failed post-apartheid economy and the evidence of the power dynamics within our racially diverse nation. Mostly told through poignant commentary by thought leaders, media personalities and passionate university students, the film explores the aftermath of our latest and much needed #FeesMustFall movement amongst further insights.
Interesting energy flowed through the studio when we all began to openly engage on the relevance of the project.
“Due to the perceptive view of race in South Africa, the film is trying to address a problem,” stated Lebogang, who proudly positioned himself to honestly receive our feedback and criticism.
“How do I relate to the film? I’m a person who grew up in a messed up society, so I want to help young people,” he then told us. What stood out the most was his gesture to collaborate with Umuzi as a whole on his upcoming project aimed to celebrate the concept of ‘Black Love.’
“What forces you not to love yourself?” he asked, elaborating on the theory of radical liberation as a possible solution to the state of the country.
“Black people must display the principle of love towards one another. Hate is not a solution.”
As Umuzi, we look forward to working alongside Lebogang and many greats like him in our quest to change the African narrative. Promising to come back with his team to share resources, concepts and ideas with us as an organization, Lebogang is the epitome of black excellence and building each other up.
In his words, I proudly quote “Let’s do something about what we face in life.” The conversation is far from over that much is evident, we only hope to spark a fire wild enough to burn down the walls of oppression.
Written by: Janet Mazibuko
Photographs by: Lutendo Malatji
These portraits are inspired by our hard working parents; mothers who always provide and give us unconditional love. These people have given their all to see us be the best that we can be. I wanted to dedicate a series of work to all the mothers and fathers who are supporting their kids by waking up in the morning and doing whatever it takes to put food on the table.
At some point I felt I should focus on our general workers who have become like furniture in the work place because people feel like cleaners, gardeners and maintenance are at the bottom of the career chain. Sadly, we tend to take them for granted, forgetting the contributions they make to our daily lives, and more importantly that they are still someone’s parent. They are loved and appreciated by someone. They are working hard to raise lawyers, doctors, maybe a photographer.
No one is better than another and there is no job better than another. Let’s respect one another and show love to each other. That’s the story behind these portraits.
Story and Photographs by: Lungile Shaun Mofokeng
“Know your thruth” were the opening words of his presentation. We are still not sure whether that was a spelling error or if there was hidden lesson behind it. Either way, Neo Mashigo’s masterclass was the longest one we have ever been in. For about two and a half hours, the Umuzi recruits sat in rapt silence, taking in the wisdom of one of the most iconic advertising giants of the century. I say this because he is a black and talented Executive Creative Director, something that the advertising industry in South Africa cannot say it has in spades.
He told us everything- every juicy little detail about his life, save for the story about how got involved with I See a Different You. That information will come when the I See a Different You team come to Umuzi for a masterclass. No pressure dudes!
Neo Mashigo was born in Diepkloof, Soweto where he also attended primary school. In high school he studied at Pace, a prestigious school meant to cultivate young leadership for a post-Apartheid South Africa. He grew up wanting to study law but he also knew that he wanted to explore his creative abilities because he loved to write. “I wanted to study law, but l also I knew I wanted to get into creativity, you can feel it, you know.”
He spoke of the importance of preparation and then went on to discuss the idea of ‘going with the flow’. Sure, ‘preparation’ and ‘going with the flow’ sound like contradicting ideas but Neo Mashigo found a way to use his life story as a great example of how to balance these ideas in the real world. Perhaps this is what he meant with ‘Know your thruth’- the importance of planning one’s life and discovering what we want and never losing sight of it. “I always make plans for my life”, he would say occasionally. The flipside to this is that life can never really be predicted and that sometimes we need to loosen the grip and just flow. Having made as many agency moves as he did, it comes as no surprise that this life balance is something he has learned to do well.
Net#work BBDO, FCB and most recently, Ogilvy are just some of the big names under which he has produced award-winning work. And the awards… Think of any major advertising award there is and he has probably won it. He is talented with a touch of arrogance but who wouldn’t be, when you have that many awards sitting on your room divider?
In the end, the big lesson I learned sitting in there was that my place in this industry, as a young black female has no time for my fear and insecurities. So what if my uncles believe I’m employed because I write just write stuff all day long? The important thing is that I get a grip of how I want my future to go and plan and then learn to surrender when life demands it.
Written by: Motshewa Khaiyane
Photographs by: Lutendo Malatji
My Name is Siboniso Mncube and I’m a self-taught photographer. I was born in Kagiso, a beautiful but slightly rural township in the West of Johannesburg, South Africa. My whole existence has always been around its circumference. It’s a relatively small township in comparison to the likes of Soweto, Ekurhuleni and Alexander, but I’ve always known that life in the township is more or less the same everywhere.
‘Silhouette Sunsets’ is a body of work of mine that was inspired by one of my earliest career dreams to shoot travel photography. Never having travelled before, I decided to take a photo walk through my own township instead. I was recently a part of a creative learnership at Umuzi Photo Club, where I got to harness my skills as a photographer. A few weeks after completing the programme and having documented Jeppestown for a whole year, I was back at home again with a lot of time on my hands. That’s when I decided to start a new body of work that was centred more on my own community. I was now faced with the enduring task of capturing beautiful images from the township that I’ve grown so accustomed to. Being familiar with the place made it difficult for me to somehow draw inspiration from it because I first had to detach myself from my surroundings to see its authentic beauty again.
Not long before I started the photo series, I was watching an American television series called ‘Storm Chasers’ which follows a group of weather reporters as they chase tornadoes for the weather channel. The thrill and passion that drove their quest was what sparked my idea for ‘Silhouette Sunsets.’ Although tornadoes are weather conditions that are not common in South Africa, I could still relate to the concept. In South Africa, we are situated in a sub-tropical topical region because we have warm, temperate conditions, so I easily refocused my efforts into something less destructive like sunsets.
At first, I shot a few images that had no connection to sunsets. It was only a month later that I realised that the connection missing to the pieces I was capturing was human subjects. I then explored the idea further by shooting silhouette portraits of everyday people who live in Kagiso and I used the sunset as a backdrop. Some of my portraits were candid and others were premeditated, but they each had a story to tell or a life experience to share about the Township. Their true narratives is what makes this project truly worth it and rewarding for me.
Written by: Siboniso Mncube
Photographs by: Siboniso Mncube
Edited by: Janneth Mazibuko
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
Joan Msikinya is a 23-year-old lady who is doing her last year in electrical engineering at the University of Johannesburg. She bears the responsibility of having to look after her siblings and the feeling of being alone in depression.
When her grandmother passed away a lot was going through her mind. Time didn’t give her family and especially herself enough space to mourn her passing. Three months after that happened she witnessed her mother take her lasts breaths right in front of her. Having faced that traumatising event, she felt as though she didn’t do enough to save her. It was difficult to understand that God would want her to experience such pain for her entire life. It felt like a hot stone was placed on her chest. She was mourning through black clothes and the head wrap she covers her head with.
It felt like half of her was buried when the passing of her mother struck her unexpectedly. She constantly worries about her studies and siblings. The weight on her shoulders feels like black bags she just can’t seem to shake off.
In the black community speaking of depression was something only known to affect people outside our pigmentation. Saying you’re depressed was always stapled with disturbing questions like “Why are you depressed, there is nothing to be sobbing about?” You need to get over it just like that. No one ever asks to be depressed. Life throws you many curve balls at once and you are expected to catch them all.
Society is now opening its eyes to see depression as being an illness and that one needs to be treated for it. She is slowly piecing herself together again. She finds the strength to face the day through the help of her sister and brother-in-law; the power of not going through depression alone.
Written by: Grace Zwane
Photographs by: Mmuso Batlang