My motivational quote is: “Never go down without a fight.” In life, bad things can happen one after the other, but it is up to us to never let them break us, to send us spiralling. The university system is built to sometimes break students down, I disrupt this by never giving up on my students. I ask my students to give themselves a chance to fight no matter how bad the circumstances seem. The same approach is taken to students who achieve distinctions and those who struggle — no one gets left behind!

Arts & Entertainment


Stellenbosch University

Kiveshan “Jives” Thumbiran, 29, is a lecturer in photography and digital media at Stellenbosch University’s Visual Art department who believes in encouraging students to never give up. As well as teaching and supervising students from first year to master, Thumbiran is a dynamic researcher using art practice-based methodologies — “I am performing research by making art,” he explains. Being young Indian lecturer of colour, his mission is to transform and decolonise the tertiary education space through teaching and research. As a master’s degree student he won the Excellence in Higher Education 2017 awards, hosted by iStore and ThinkAhead. The judges said: “He has taken a computer course for media students and transformed that into a new media studies course, in which he uses technology in an innovative way to teach art. Jives changed the course not only in terms of content but also in the way of teaching. While technology is used extensively to present the course, the focus is not on technology but on the learning content.” Jives aims to reshape South Africa by making art that breaks the boundaries of who is allowed to call themselves African, as well as fighting the problematic nature of spaces in South Africa, including the challenges concerning tokenism. Jives is paving the way for the South African Indian-born diaspora to take part in the South African art scene through his teaching as a lecturer as well as his work as a practicing artist. 

  • University of Johannesburg: MTech, thesis title: Concepts of Dystopia in Contemporary South African Art and solo exhibition, Kaliyutopia.
  • University of Johannesburg: BTech, 2016
  • University of Johannesburg: National diploma, 2015

  • Teaching awards: First place award winner for Innovation in Higher education using technology
  • Trust Competition held by think ahead in conjunction with Apple Visual art awards: Sasol New signatures top 100 artists for 2017
  • DIMES conference: Exhibition award runner-up on Theme “confronting Europe”

It is the memory of my mother’s father (my grandfather) who raised me along with my lovely grandmother as my parents worked (as is typical in lower-class homes). He was an artisan of many talents by profession. From carpentry and woodwork to tailoring clothing he was truly multi-faceted. He believed that knowing our roots and paying homage to our ancestors and culture would keep us good no matter where we end up in life. He, unfortunately, died suddenly in 2007 before he got to see me learn Indian classical music and my graduation. He is a memory of pain and also an inspiration when my mind is in dark spaces. When I remember him as a pillar to everyone around me it encourages me to go beyond my own limits, not for myself, but for every child in a bad space who thinks that they should give up.

Bad times are temporary, this too shall pass.

A place where there are little to no distinct social classes, a place that is bountiful and fruitful to those of us born here as well as our brothers and sisters who come from outside the country to seek a better life. I want South Africa to become a superpower where we can say we are living the South African dream! I don’t want more South Africans leaving this, their home to make other countries great with their skills and energy! I want South African professionals to stay here and help me bring this vision to life.

Also if it could be lit up because of no more load-shedding would be great!

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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