300 Young South Africans: Arts and Culture


Zinhle, Dj

It’s hard for a female DJ to break into the male-dominated ranks of DJs, but that’s exactly what Zinhle has done.

She was the resident DJ for SABC1’s dance show Jika MaJika, and has a permanent Saturday afternoon slot with DJ Oskido on Yfm. She performs regularly at clubs and private functions and has moved into producing.

She began DJing on the equipment that her brother hired out. Her first gig was foisted on her when setting up for a late DJ. She discovered that mixing came naturally and her brother ended up expertly managing her.

Zinhle went on to open a DJ school, Fuse Academy, with her childhood friend Nomdeni Mdakhi. It opened in February this year and is targeted solely at girls. Aspirant DJs are taught information Zinhle wished she had when starting out: branding, marketing advice, mental skills training and media. DJ Zinhle’s album The Feminine Touch will be out on the July 20.— Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: Coco Brazil, Midrand


Lira, Musician

Lira doesn’t seem like the accountant type. But before the award-winning singer made history with her album All my Love, which featured the most-played song to hit the South African Hot 100 Billboard Chart, that’s exactly what she planned to be.

Her mother pushed her, telling her to pursue the dream of being a singer. It’s a dream that has certainly been realised.

Lira was nominated for four South African Music Awards for her album Soul in Mind, which was released at the end of 2008, and her band was nominated for two more.

And now that she’s one of South Africa’s hottest role models, she takes her job—every part of it—quite seriously.

‘I wear South African designers,” she says, indicating her support through her ensemble of the day, an impeccable outfit of a pale brown blouse, skinny jeans and gold, strappy sandals with a kitten heel.

There are parallels between Lira and another South African style icon, Miriam Makeba. Lira has performed alongside Makeba and recently posed for a local magazine in a recreation of a Drum cover, which featured Makeba.

‘I saw in her what I wanted to become,” says Lira.

The young singer explains her work is not just about the music. The musicians who work with her in the studio are not musicians with the traditional connotations of irresponsibility. This is their job, she says, they have mortgages, they need security. The practical part of her advises fellow artists to do a course in law or business, and friends who are accountants and lawyers to explore something creative. It’s all about balance.—Eamon Allan


Dylan Valley
Being the only coloured kid in his neighbourhood pushed Dylan Valley towards a passion for hip-hop, the music that formed his identity. He combined this music genre with another passion: documentary filmmaking. Now he uses the two to create movies that tell stories about real people.

His talents were first noticed when he co-directed his varsity film Lost Prophets, which was screened at the Encounters Film Festival. Later he was invited to direct six episodes of the SABC documentary series Headwrap, which he calls his big break.

Valley is working on a documentary about a gang member who becomes a gospel rapper. He has also started work on a theatre and multimedia production on the history of Afrikaans, told through hip-hop. When he’s not making movies, Valley is the guitarist in Cape-town based funk/hip-hop/fusion band, Stereotypes.—Ilham Rawoot

Lunch spot: Ethiopian Kitchen, Cape Town


Jonathan Boynton-Lee
Jonathan Boynton-Lee is probably one of the few 28-year-olds who can say he’s a director, producer, writer, actor, model and businessman.
His first love was the theatre, but now he ‘lives and breathes film”.

Boyton-Lee has written, produced and directed everything from commercials and films to music videos for Danny K and Johnny Clegg. He has shot award-winning corporate videos for the University of South Africa, Audi, South African Airways and RTT.

He is also as talented in front of the camera and is easily recognisable in local commercials for Exclusive Books, Absa and Steers. He has modelled for Woolworths, Nike, GQ, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, and graced the runways at local and international fashion shows.—Qudsiya Karrim

Lunch spot: Service Station, Melville, Johannesburg


At 25, Joost Bosland is already considered one of the country’s art experts. Bosland is a curator for the Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town, which regularly shows artists such as Nicholas Hlobo, Pieter Hugo, Nandipha Mntambo, Youssef Nabil and Penny Siopis.

Bosland says, although he was dragged to galleries in his youth, he didn’t enjoy it much. He studied various subjects at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, but it wasn’t until an exchange year at the University of Cape Town that he landed an internship at the National Gallery in Cape Town—and that was when he knew exactly what he wanted to do.—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: The Kitchen, Woodstock


Matthew Brown, Film director

Brown wanted to be a director from the time he was eight years old. His first short film, Clowns, made at the age of 21, was the first South African film to be included in the New York International Independent Film Festival.

Brown worked as an editor and a director of commercials before joining Octagon, where he headed up its fledgling team and created the country’s first half-hour cartoon, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika. The team grew from six to 54 and ran two seasons and 104 episodes under his leadership. Brown now heads the group’s development team, producing international service jobs.

Last year Brown produced a major Bollywood feature, Eight by Ten, for Percept Pictures. There was also the pilot episode of Z-News, a political satire with puppets based on Zapiro’s characters. He is currently directing an animated feature film based on Rob Van Vuuren’s one-man play Electric Juju.—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: Diaz Tavern, Cape Town


Athi-Patra Ruga, Artist and fashion designer

Athi-Patra Ruga began his career in fashion design, but it is his art that has truly captured people’s attention. After winning an Elle New Talent Award at the Sanlam South African Fashion Week in 2004, the 25-year-old, has since stormed the local art circuit.

He is garnering international interest for his work, which is difficult to categorise, bounding from performance art to fashion illustration. Ruga interrogates images and people’s reaction to them, and is on a constant quest to subvert them. The body’s juxtaposition against structure, ideology or politics lies at the heart of much of his work. In 2007 and 2008 he exhibited in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and China. He lectured at the University of Art in Berlin in May 2009 and will give his third solo exhibition in August this year entitled Mr Floating Signifier and the Dead Boyz. Raised in East London, he now lives and works between Cape Town and Johannesburg.—Lynley Donnelly

Lunch spot: Poza, Cape Town


Diane Kay, Chef

Being a woman chef in a professional kitchen speaks volumes. But that Diane Kay represented South Africa at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition held in Lyon, France, in January 2009 says far more.

Kay trained for three months straight to prepare for the trials and she was the first female South African entrant in the long history of the country’s participation.

Kay is a graduate of the Prue Leith Chefs Academy in Centurion, south of Pretoria. She is based in McDonald Frimley Hall Hotel and Spa in Camberley, just outside London. She has worked in some of the best hotel kitchens in the country including the Arabella Western Cape Hotel and Spa in Hermanus and Sandton’s Michelangelo. She was also a member of the national culinary team that represented South Africa at the Culinary Olympics held in Germany in 2004.

She has won a number of accolades, including the Nestle Mini-Plated Salon Culinaire (junior section), the 2000 Jeune Commis Rotisseurs (first place in the Johannesburg regional finals) and the Easigas Young Chef of the Year (first place).Her plans for the future?
‘Just to keep cooking.”—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: French Laundry, Yountville, California


Batana Vundla, Screenwriter

This University of Cape Town dropout didn’t allow unfinished degrees to hold him back. Instead Batana Vundla followed in his family’s footsteps and forged a career in film and television.

Vundla’s grandfather, Ephraim Batana Tshabala, owned Eyethu Cinema in Mofolo, Soweto. Vundla’s mother eventually took over the reins. Perhaps that’s why the 31-year-old is proud to call himself a feminist.

Apart from working for Urban Brew, Vundla also forms part of Joziewood Films, a production company started in 2007. Joziewood specialises in low budget films made straight to DVD. So far the company has produced three, with the latest, Friends in Need, released in May.

Vundla says the highlight of his career was being nominated for a South African Film and Television Award for Kiep Kiep and Sporro—a social satire animation he wrote and produced.—Karabo Keepile

Lunch spot: Assagi, Illovo, Johannesburg


Goldfish, Musicians

What’s left to do for the band who were nominated for eight South African Musica Awards; voted number one live act in South Africa by 24.com; invited to perform for Nelson Mandela and his charity 46664 at Ellis Park; performed alongside Fatboy Slim and have had a residency at Pacha?

According to Dominic Peters he and his bandmate, David Poole, are just getting started. Look out for them breaking into the market in the United States on the tails of the KIA hamsters advertising campaign, which features their song Fort Knox.

The successful jazz musicians are taking South African electronic music to the next level,using tube samplers, a groove box, keyboards, funky upright bass and saxophones to create a unique Goldfish sound.

The Fishies, as they are affectionately known by their fanbase, will spend the year touring extensively: about half their time in South Africa and the other half abroad, including Brazil and Ibiza.—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: The Food Barn, Noordhoek, Cape Town

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