Share Their Story

Vusi Africa, 33

Trial by Media

Stretching a R6 000 budget for an Afrikaans-medium short film marked the birth of Vusi Africa’s filmmaking career. The successful penny-pinching paid off: the rudimentary project eventually premiered at the Silicon Valley Film Festival in California and was nominated for the best short film award at the African International Film Festival.
The accolades continued with Africa’s debut feature-length film, Letters of Hope, which premiered at the 40th Durban International Film Festival, where he scooped an award for artistic bravery. The film subsequently opened the fifth edition of the Rapid Lion film festival and earned him a South African Film and Television Award for best emerging filmmaker.
Unique South African narratives underpin Africa’s work. He wants to inspire his audiences “to see themselves, defeat their shortfalls and regain their confidence”. His sophomore offering, Surviving Gaza, is a coming-of-age tale set against the vibrant backdrop of Kwaito’s heyday, and has just been released.

“Find something you are passionate about and do it like your freedom depends on it.”

Author - Zia Haffejee
Sihle-isipho Nontshokweni, 32

Sihle-isipho Nontshokweni, 32

Head of production
The Ultimate Book Show

In addition to being the host and head of production of The Ultimate Book Show, Sihle-isipho Nontshokweni is a bestselling author. Her book Wanda is a children’s story that follows a young girl’s journey to self-celebration as her grandmother teaches her to love her hair.

Wanda’s success gave Nontshokweni the opportunity and drive to write a sequel, and Wanda the Brave was released worldwide in 2021, published through Wanda World. With support from the National Arts Council, the series will soon become an animated cartoon for television and digital consumption.

For The Ultimate Book Show, Nontshokweni has interviewed many of the biggest names in South African literature, music and visual art. A year after recording the show’s first season, she presented it at the Cannes Film Market in 2021. Soon, you’ll be able to catch The Ultimate Book Show on SABC TV.

“It is necessary and urgent that we build a vibrant publishing infrastructure on the continent.”

Alice Sholto-Douglas |
Stephen Horn, 31

Stephen Horn, 31

Director and producer
Politically Aweh

Stephen Horn is the director and producer at Politically Aweh. He works with the Clean Creatives campaign against greenwashing, and to foreground the role the fossil fuel industry’s marketing plays in delaying climate action.

With more than 10 years of experience in media, Horn has a few accolades under his belt: a climate change explainer video series on which he worked in 2019 placed in the top three of the 2021 international CMCC Climate Change Communication Awards, along with another climate project for which he produced a video through his production company, Bouncing Biscuit Studios. The series won an award at the Inside the Greenhouse Climate & Comedy video competition at the University of Colorado.

Politically Aweh partnered with the Climate Justice Coalition and to produce a satirical video starring Siv Ngesi. The 2021 video was featured on Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post and gained impressive traction on social media.

“Ask for help when you need it, and share your own knowledge and resources generously.”

Lineo Leteba |
Ondela Mlandu, 31

Ondela Mlandu, 31

Multimedia journalist and podcast host
Go Hustle and Modern Magazine

Multimedia journalist and podcast host Ondela Mlandu loves the opportunities her job gives her to sit with businesspeople and entrepreneurs and elicit their stories.

She’s experienced in print, podcasting and radio broadcasting for titles including Go Hustle, Women’s Health, Getaway and Metro FM, and she’s hosted podcasts for entrepreneurship platforms such as Heavy Chef.

She’s now studying Communication and Influence in the Digital Age to stay on top of future developments.

“I’m very intentional about the work I produce, and writing for a platform such as Go Hustle aligns with my vision to leave an impact, so women can be fully equipped to run their own businesses,” she says.

Long-term goals include promoting a society where women can use their skills and experience to drive empowerment initiatives across Africa.

She’s also the curator for Global Shapers Cape Town Hub, a World Economic Forum initiative for youth-focussed community projects.

“Learn to interpret self-doubt as a motivating force — nerves are a reminder that you’ll grow!”

Lesley Stones |
Luzuko Tena, 28

Luzuko Tena, 28

Social media director

In 2020 Luzuko Tena approached the Interactive Advertising Bureau with an idea of starting a Youth Action Council as part of their councils and committees, which were formed in order to drive change in the South African digital media and marketing industry.

The council has done a big job in fast-tracking diversity, equity and inclusion in an industry that has fallen short on these qualities.

As well as being a sought-after speaker at marketing events, Tena is the founder and chair of the youth-only jury panel for Bookmarks, one of the media industry’s major award shows.

He says the marketing and media industry plays a big role in how people think about transformation, diversity and inclusion, and he would like to help make these ideals part of people’s daily lives.

“Believe in yourself and your ideas, and don’t be apologetic about showing up as your authentic self.”

Oratile Mashazi |
Lebohang Kganye, 32

Lebohang Kganye, 32

Independent visual artist

Lebohang Kganye is a visual artist and photographer who uses her family archive to explore and re-enact notions of home and belonging. “My work has explored themes of personal history and ancestry, while resonating with the history of South Africa and apartheid, by incorporating the archival and performative into a practice that centres storytelling and memory as it plays itself out in the familial experience.”
With regards to what drives her success, Kganye says that the concept of individuality within a society or community has always been important. “However, I always think about the concept of ‘black excellence’ versus ‘black exceptionalism’. I have never wanted to be the exception, but rather a part of a community that has a mindset backed by actions that display leadership through perseverance. The true purpose of these actions is to advance the black community — that is black excellence,” she says.

I hope my practice continues to be a response to the ongoing intervention about the invisibility and neglect on the productions, histories and archives of women and queer photographers.

Afrika Bogatsu |