300 Young South Africans: Arts and Culture (Part 3)

In this section: Fokofpolisiekar, Nthikeng Mohlele, Lebo Mashile, Loyiso Bala, Dj Euphonik

Fokofpolisiekar, Musicians

Formed in 2003, this Afrikaans punk band has single-handedly changed the landscape of Afrikaans rock music. Consisting of Francois Van Coke (vocals), Hunter Kennedy (guitar), Johnny de Ridder (guitar), Wynand Myburgh (bass) and Jaco Venter (Drums), their first EP As Jy Met Vuur Speel Sal Jy Brand struck a chord with disenfranchised youth stifled by conservative religious Afrikaans culture. Their first single Hemel op die Platteland made history when it became the first Afrikaans song to be playlisted on 5fm.
The band made national headlines in April 2006 when Myburgh wrote the words ‘fok god” on the wallet of a fan while they were discussing religion.

Two more albums followed before the band called a hiatus to focus on musical side projects such as Van Coke Kartel, aKing and Die Heuwels Fantasties. But the band has continued to play a number of high-profile gigs and released a new EP Antibiotika last year.— Lloyd Gedye

Lunch spot: Beluga, Cape Town

Nthikeng Mohlele, Writer

Anyone who wants to go out to lunch with writer Nthikeng Mohlele may have to drag him. He doesn’t go out a lot because ‘of my writing”.

The Scent of Bliss, his debut novel, came out last year to critical acclaim; he’s already busy on a second, which he says is almost finished.

He was born in 1977 in Polokwane and grew up in Thembisa, in the east of Johannesburg.

The Wits University-educated writer now lives in Pretoria with his partner Kholiswa Kleinbooi and son, Miles, named after his musical hero, Miles Davis. Percy Zvomuya

Lunch spot: Grill Club, Pretoria

Mika Stefano, Front-of-house manager, Old Mutual Theatre on the Square

Mika Stefano’s nomination raised the bar for future nominations to the Mail & Guardian‘s 300 Young South Africans. His submission included a glossy folder with scented pages and a badge, an introduction by his mom and testimonials from his boss, Daphne Kuhn of the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square.

There was a petition with 100 signees and a certificate from the Rotary Club of Johannesburg for his outreach work. He was variously described as ‘determined”, ‘interesting”, ‘glamorous” and, well, ‘gay”.

What was clear above all, is that Stefano was impossible to ignore.

Stefano is marketing and front-of-house manager of the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square and works closely with Kuhn, the owner and producer of the theatre, as a theatre activist. According to Kuhn ‘his incredible marketing efforts and creative graphic skills as marketing manager have served as an enormous contribution toward securing the new title sponsorship for the theatre”. We believe it.—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: Schwarma Co, Norwood, Johannesburg

John Vlismas

John Vlismas is regarded by his contemporaries as the Godfather of South African stand-up. But Barry Hilton says the tattooed, ringed wundercomedian is more like the ‘rep for Red Bull.” Okay, so maybe he’s a little of both.

Vlismas was the SA Comedy Award Winner for stand-up of the year in 2007 and a 2008 finalist for Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh Off. But now the mad man who started up Whacked Management—an entertainment agency that handles some of the top names in the comedy business—can also add artiste and director to his list of comedic accomplishments.

In April Vlismas showcased his much-hyped art exhibition Off The Reservation, which featured 20 oil on canvas works at the Obert Contemporary Gallery in Melrose Arch. He is currently co-directing (and is part of the cast) for a comedy documentary, produced by Anant Singh. But if you are more interested in his stand-up stuff, check out his next show Pow!, which kicks off this month in Johannesburg and Durban.— Tanya Pampalone

Lunch spot: Red Chamber, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

Euphonik, Dj

Themba Nkosi’s stage name means a ‘pleasant sound”. The self-taught DJ began his love affair with the turntables at the age of 14, sneaking into clubs to catch DJ’s Fresh and Mbuso.

Since then he has warmed up the stage for international artists such as Missy Elliot and Blu Cantrell. One of the many career highlights for the House DJ was his 2006 nomination for Best Club DJ at the Metro FM Awards.

For The Love of House was released last April—it was Euphonik’s first solo project as a producer. Within the first month of its release it sold 15 000 units and has now achieved gold status, selling more than 20 000 copies.

Euphonik can be heard on 5fm on Sundays between 7pm and 10pm with his dance show My House.

‘The show gives me the opportunity to share music, thoughts and opinions on issues that affect young people in South Africa,” he says.

Apart from being a DJ and producing, Euphonik also owns Euphonik Productions, a marketing events company.— Karabo Keepile

Lunch spot: Fifteen, Alexandra, Johannesburg

Khwezi Gule, Curator

Art Curator Khwezi Gule says he dreams of becoming an evil genius and taking over the world. So he co-founded Third Eye, a collective of artists hosting art events outside mainstream institutions. That was back in Durban, fresh after getting his BTech fine arts from the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

The curator of contemporary collections at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Gule started out as a trainee curator with the Brett Kebble Art Awards in 2004, after a brief spell of teaching Art Theory at the DUT.

Now he writes regularly on art matters for different publications around the world and was recently appointed to co-curate for the City of Johannesburg’s 2010 Fifa World Cup exhibition.

Gule is also part of a collective of creative intellectuals, the Dead Revolutionaries Club, which produces exhibitions, offers art classes and puts out their own website, deadrevolutionariesclub.co.za.—Percy Mabandu

Lunch spot: Lapa Fo, Greenside

Lebo Mashile, Poet

It’s hard to nail a specific title to Lebo Mashile. She’s an author, executive producer, actress, record producer and a television series presenter. But she’s mostly known for her role in the literary community as the sweet-lipped, funkadelic poet who infuses passion and politics into every word.

Mashile has performed everywhere from Thabo Mbeki’s presidential inauguration to the Yarri Yarri Phambari Writers Conference in New York City with African-American writers such as Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.

Mashile was born in the United States to South African parents who lived in exile, and returned home in 1995.

In 2005 she released a CD of her poetry, Lebo Mashile Live and in 2006 won the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. Last year she self-published her second book Flying above the Sky.

Mashile is the host of the SABC2 ethics game show Drawing the Line and is currently in rehearsal for Threads, a poetry and dance production she is performing in Grahamstown in July with Sylvia Glasser of Moving into Dance Mophatong.—Tanya Pampalone

Lunch spot: Bismillah, Fordsburg, Johannesburg

Maxine Case, Curator
When she was young, Maxine Case didn’t want to be a writer. Her mother, Diane Case, and her sister Bonita were both writers. ‘I felt that it was almost expected of me,” she says. ‘And part of me even thought that my school teachers only thought I could write well because of my mother.”

But in 2005 some of those early fears were finally laid to rest. Her first published work, a short story Homing Pigeons, was included in African Compass: New Writing from Southern Africa, a compilation that was the result of a short story competition adjudicated by JM Coetzee. Two years later, Case’s All We Have Left Unsaid won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book Africa. Case works as a senior writer and webmaster for the NGO Cape Town Partnership.—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: Caveau, Cape Town

Ntshieng Mokgoro, Director

Ntshieng Mokgoro graduated with a diploma in cosmetology from Alexandra Technical College in Johannesburg in 1992. She hated her new career. Fortunately, she soon got work as an assistant librarian and one of her tasks was to tell stories to primary school kids. She would ask the kids to dramatise the stories as they read. Fast forward to 2009 and Ntshieng is the current Standard Bank Young Artist winner for drama.

In between, she has been cementing her reputation as a writer and director. In 2001 Mokgoro contributed to the script of Gazlam 1, a drama for SABC1. In 2004 she was a trainee director for the controversial Hotel Rwanda. In 2005 she wrote and directed a Naledi award-nominated residence project at the Market Theatre Laboratory and in 2007 Mokgoro wrote and directed Thursday’s Child, which won an award at the Market Theatre’s Zwakala Festival and was performed at the Youth Festival in Vienna.

Mokgoro is director of the Publik Kreativity Drama Krew in Alexandra. Just don’t ask her to give you a manicure.—Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: Lumberjacks, TKTK

Loyiso Bala, Singer

Loyiso Bala says the only time he has time for reading is when he is sitting on a plane. Between his performances, his work behind the scenes on ad jingles, documentaries, shows such as Takalane Sesame, scores for Tshasha and his South African Music Award-nominated work with producer Kryton on arrangements for Gang of Instrumentals, there isn’t much free time.

It might surprise fans of his Sama and Metro FM award-winning albums Wine, Women and Song, Blow your Mind and Amplified, to learn that Bala was the youngest conductor of the National Youth Choir in 2000 at the age of 19, and was head of the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir.

This year he presented the Samas, an experience he says was really cool. ‘It was the first time that I was in control,” he says.

Bala is preparing to perform at Madison Square Gardens in New York at the 46664 concert. Maybe then he’ll get some reading in.— Eamon Allan

Lunch spot: Santorini, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

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