As summer rolls into Jozi we are back at 70 Juta Street for our 5th First Thursday collaboration RINGA! Exhibition of Taal.
Umuzi are excited to be partnering with Afropunk, Sandile Radebe and Pule kaJanolintshi to offer up a thought-provoking exploration of language in Southern Africa as a complex singularity – a river system in dynamic flow full of all the varied 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.
Language as a fundamental part of experience is actually a special kind of natural code we use in conveying thoughts between us, whether it be with the voice (spoken languages) or with the body (signed languages). We further encode the code of language graphically through writing, which is nothing but a cultural technology that transports words across space and time. Speech, sign and writing are as much markers of identity as they are ways of expressing our beliefs, desires and history. They are the inqolobane where we store culture, through which we often unconsciously reflect and share collective memory.
This exhibition, mounted by young South African artists of Umuzi Academy, explores these relationships between the visual and oral of language in this region of the world.
It features artworks that speak to both official and non-official 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! brings language to the fore in a way you’ve never seen it before. So be sure to make your way to 70 Juta Street this First Thursday as we exhibit unusual reflections on taal in sound and image.
Plan of the Exhibition
We invite you to enter umuzi wethu, the walls of which extend onto the pavement of Juta Street, eGoli. On the ground you will see isibheqe characters spelling out U-MU-ZI. Inside the main spaces there an ‘oceans’ which represent the groups of structural similarity in language of this region of the continent. On two walls you will see the works of Umuzi Recruits, sharing thoughts on what language means in this country, and on the facing walls, a ‘topographical map’ depicting a river system, flowing between planes of elevation. These rivers are Language. Zwakala ublom’ emlanjeni nathi, o jaje Ringas van die plek ya rona, ma-Afrika.
A River of Language…
Mulambo wa Luambo. Umfula Wolimi. Noka ya Leleme. Mulabho Whelilimi. Gowab di Kai! Garib. Nambu wa Ririmi. Xoaki se G!ari. Rivier van Taal.
An installation on both sides of the conjoining wall – that simultaneously acts as part of the isibheqe character spelling the ZI of umuzi on the floor of the space – depicts language as a flowing river, made up of ways of speaking. The water is speech, as it runs it says:
khuluma, bua, thetha, bolela, vulavula, amba. But it also says: bhobha, tekela, ndrondroza, tshefula, ngangaza, yeyeza, apa, bola, and bolabola; and it even says !hoa, khom, ǂxoa, ||ãla, and tana.
These are words we use to describe how we talk. Styles of speech connected to each other in specific ways, ordered logically here in a kind of topographical map. It is a dynamic flow of language forms around the country: three kinds of river systems that run from the three sources in three mountains of linguistic heritage called: Ntu, Khoe & !Ui-Taa. They pool into lakes that are natural collections of language in a cultural context forming a specific linguistic variety with its particular features.
But they also are forced into dams, that are man-made artificially formed varieties – the standardised dictionary languages that are used as official languages…
We usually only think in terms of dams. We freeze language in the walls of dictionaries. Let us begin to flow from them and hear the different sounds of the water as it runs.
CLICK HERE TO RSVP ON FACEBOOK.
Dance into the weekend with our playlist of young African musicians who are killing it. It’s International Music Day and we’ve put together a list of songs worth snapping your fingers and tapping your feet to. Oh and if you’re as excited as we are about International Music Day you might even whip and hit the nae nae.
Brother Moves On
From East Rand to Europe, The Brother Moves On’s eclectic music style can be described best in their own words as “Electronique Maskandi, Ninja Gospel, Afrikan voodoo pop.”
A graphic designer and singer/songwriter based in Cape Town, Nonku Phiri’s voice is as versatile as her performances, often times switching between hip hop, rap and techno funk. With a stage presence that can’t be ignored, she’s performed with artists such as Jack Parow and Okmalumkoolkat.
Just A Band
Just A Band is a Kenyan house/funk/disco band who love exploring and not limiting their sound. Well-known for their DIY aesthetic, the band writes, records and produces their own music.
Botswana born singer/songwriter Mpho Sebina is all for doing what you love. This is evident in the quality of her music where she plays around with mashups of classics such as Boom Shaka’s ‘Lerato’ with Erykah Badu’s ‘Other side of the game’.
Belgium born, US based, South African rapper Petite Noir has cultivated his own style, mixing 80s electro with African blues inspired styles shaped by exile and alienation. He started out playing guitar for Spoek Mathambo in Cape Town and it’s in Cape Town where he met and became friends with Yasiin Bey popularly known as Mos Def.
That’i Cover Okestra
That’i Cover Okestra covers popular kwaito songs with a classical twist. From Brenda Fassie to Mujava, they’ve done it all, having us breaking a sweat on the dance floor – and we’re not complaining.
Written by: Zuleka Pukwana
Graphic by: Rapelang Sibande
We were joined by Mzo Ntuli, content and social media strategist at HelloComputer, who discussed content in the digital space with our recruits.
He discussed the need for aggressive promotion and authenticity through storytelling to maintain the true essence of content marketing. Social trends matter. Every brand needs to be able to relate to the target audience and keep up with the social trends that the target market is into. He gave an example of recent social content he did for Lunch Bar with the “Straight Outta Compton” trend that was influenced by Dr. Dre.
— Nocee (@nosiRas1) September 18, 2015
Influencer marketing is definitely here to stay. Mzo believes that there won’t be a need for traditional marketing and advertising within the next 10 years. In advertising the first question we need to ask is, “what are the brand objectives?” Not all brands are looking to achieve the same things from a social media campaign. “We’ve all got a story to tell and we’re working in different ways. There are things that the European market cannot do that we are doing. It’s about the market that you are trying to tap into.” Brands and businesses are investing a lot into content because they can see that’s where we are headed. Brands are seeing the importance of digital and the importance of digital is that the results are measurable. Campaigns that are coming out of South Africa are extremely unique. The vastness of the South African market is what is exciting to marketers.
— Umuzi Photo Club (@Umuziphotoclub) September 18, 2015
His advice for anyone trying to get into digital marketing is to “connect with as many people as you can.” In a nutshell, your power lies in your network. “How am I going to be different? How am I going to create something that is unique? How do I create character? I interned in my 1st year. I pushed myself because I realised that I cannot wait until 3rd year to intern. I needed to find a job in 3rd year.” You need to have that drive and passion to want to be in digital marketing.
“I think there’s a need for spaces such as Umuzi. I’ve seen Umuzi’s presence on social media and Instagram. There’s a massive need for people like yourselves and myself.” He’s really excited about Umuzi and the energy that he has witnessed in this space. An energy that embraces the differences at Umuzi and allows recruits to grow and become better.
He believes Umuzi is an initiative that will make change in the country. Not a change that he thinks everyone will see as not everyone faces the same difficulties but one that will definitely be appreciated by the recruits and the industry.
Written by: Zuleka Pukwana
Photo Cred: Kgomotso Tleane
Poster Design: Tshidiso Mohafa
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
The art of healing has always been a journey of discovery
Finding your purpose was never meant to be easy
Now let me tell you about Jeppestown,
The home of arts and craft
The only place that reveals the truth that everything we see and touch is related to art,comes from art or is art.
Who could be the mastermind behind this captivating place?
The Healers, spiritual artists that play with souls in the palm of their hands.
Leaders that keep the mind in order
So there is no difference really
Only a fine line between the two
A thread of silver linings
That make it difficult to tell one from the other.
Our journey led us from Zulu monuments
To artistic museums…
A house of mirrors.
providing one with the true definition of reflection.
I look at these walls of colour
Painted with reject material,
That have painted one too many walls
Showing us one can never be too old to be a stroke of genius.
A true embodiment of Jeppe’s history
My great Sir, as we listen to you telling tales of your amazing journey
One cannot help but be inspired by your strength
You live in paradise, a heaven you have built with your own hands
We thank you
Healer of life,
Mother nature comes in different forms I guess
You are of earth
And we thank you
Written by: Lungelo Msibi
Photo Cred: Nthabiseng Maloleka
Poster by: Verona Banda
Thaps is currently in London with other young photographers sponsored by the Wembley to Soweto Foundation where they are exhibiting their work. This exhibition takes place at The Hospital Club Gallery and celebrates his collection of photographs from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
While in London, Thaps also had the opportunity to take snaps of his of his idol – Actor, Idris Elba, and was featured in the The Guardian UK online.
August, the allocated month for Women’s day campaigns, comes with an overload of information on the struggles and challenges that women in general face. This got me thinking about my struggles as a young black female starting out in the creative industry.
I’ve spent years trying to prove to my family that I can make a living as a creative and to be quite honest, I’m really tired of it. Trying to make a case for something they can barely even wrap their minds around can be exhausting and there is a deep desire and need to make what I love into a sustainable career. I have decided that they do not have to agree with this journey I have chosen, because it is my journey.
When I first had my work exhibited, I felt uncontainable pride in the work I had produced. I felt the kind of happiness that makes you want to jump up and down and do flips with a huge grin on your face. I always want my work to speak for me, as it is a representation of me.
I get moments where it hits me that I have been given the opportunity to make my dreams a huge part of my reality. The reality that I took my passion and made something of it.
I find myself surrounded by other creatives, discussing ad campaigns and innovative ideas that we hope will change society in positive ways. In moments such as these (I have goosebumps as I type this) I am reminded that my leap of faith was not in vain.
From the time I took the decision to go on and follow my creativity, a huge stride of bravery, I have found that making my size 4 footprint in the creative industry may be covered in landmines and potholes but it is very much possible. Social media provides you with the platform to share and promote your work and a number of very passionate people make the journey to the “promised land” just that bit more attainable.
I am excited to see more intelligent black females be empowered in their creativity and to do spectacular things. I am a black female creative but I first and foremost identify as a creative; a title I wear proudly.
Written by: Iris Hlakuva
“In order to succeed you need to have the commitment of the pig in an English breakfast.” said Ernest Nkosi during his master class session at Umuzi photo club.
“As creatives you have to back yourselves, make sure people buy your stuff,” he expressed after sharing how he spent hours outside the cinema convincing people to go see his film. He remained committed to his work after four years of sleepless nights raising funds for the film.
— Zandy Mjoli (@ZandyMjoli) August 14, 2015
— Zu Patsatsatsa (@SayItAintZee_) August 14, 2015
“Every choice you make, whether good or bad, has a consequence,” a mantra which his film “Thina Sobabili” centres around. The two main characters battle with conflicts at home and within themselves. As a storyteller Ernest was able to hold up a mirror to society forcing us to ask ourselves “is this ok?” As Umuzi creatives we have learned from Ernest to ask ourselves the “whys” because he believes that’s what being a creative is all about.
Check out his his international award winning film showing in cinemas right now.