Lights, camera, action! One scroll over Kwanele Lisa Nyongo’s Instagram page and you would think that she is a supermodel!
Popularly known as Lisa, this girl is not all about beauty, she has brains as well.
A UKZN graduate, the 24-year-old Lisa holds a degree in Supply Chain Management and Marketing.
Now a social media micro-influencer, she has her sights set on being the next Mihlali Ndamase, or even soar higher than her. “I’ve always been a person that loves taking pictures and social media has been a huge part of my life. From connecting with people in different parts of the world to expressing myself by sharing pictures and videos.”
And of course, money is always a good motivation to do something. The bonus for Lisa was that she could also use her skills to get money. “When I found out I could make money out of it as my own brand, I decided to pursue it with the knowledge I gained from my degree as it also included social media marketing. Since then I have made it my passion to learn, pursue it as a career and I also hope to grow in the influencer industry.”
Upcoming vibrant actress Thobeka Ndwandwe hails from the small town of eMandeni. Growing up, she was always passionate about art and had an opportunity of seeing lot of things in life and that is where she says her passion for the arts stems from.
Demotivated by the stereotype and rumours that you have to sleep your way to the top, her parents were sceptical about supporting her pursue her dreams and advised her to steer into another direction. This is where she lost the passion for the arts but a few years later and she has scored herself an appearance on tv’s popular show, Durban Gen and a lead supporting role in Harken Lalela – 1976 The Musical.
Studying at Ikabawo Performing Arts Academy, she says that this school instilled discipline in her. “My school has shaped me into this person that I am today. I feel like in order for you to go far in art you have to be disciplined and Ikabawo taught me so much of that. Art requires respect, discipline and knowing what you want are the most important character traits of an artist.”
Initially Thobeka went into acting just to prove a point that she can do it without sleeping her way to the top, but now she has grown to love her craft and is what they refer to as a triple threat. “I can sing, I can dance, and I can act” she boasts. Her presence was felt the very first time she set foot at the Academy: “I remember some of my colleagues telling me much later that when they first saw me, they saw their biggest competition,” but it was not in her plans to complete with anyone, with her it was just about fulfilment. “I was just happy that I found my purpose, I found myself.”
When she worked on the Harken Lalela - 1976 The Musical, Thobeka got to rub shoulders with the likes of the talented Mam' Baby Cele, Melusi Yeni, Thandeka Zulu and Noxy Mabika. “It was so surreal and there was so much pressure on my side to do my ultimate best.” She says that she felt so much love and support from these professionals, they gave her so much advise not only career-wise but even on how to handle her finances. “I felt fortunate to be with people who have been in the industry for such a long time.”
In parting, she says that as a girl who once went to bed without eating, she wishes to reach out to other young girls and inspire them that life is much bigger than the squatter camps that they live in. “I am living proof that the universe listens to our wishes and one day, you will be just that.”
Lethu Nkwanyana is an award winning poet, writer, thespian and an entrepreneur. Born and bred in Shakaville, everyone who knows him can attest that he is quite the humble young man.
He holds a degree in the field of Business and this switched on his entrepreneurship side. Over the years he has been involved in the following businesses:
- His first business was that of selling fast food at Blythedale beach with his friends Thabani Mabika and Wandile Shezi.
- Started a company with his younger brother, Aphelele Nkwanyana called Zikode General Works where they wash roofs in their neighborhood.
- Zikode General Works collapsed because they couldn’t maintain the equipment and now they provide cleaning services for SAMLOG Mining, based in Mpumalanga.
- CFO for Kmele Kwaziwe, a poetry session in Stanger.
- Co-owner of a game shop and fast food area located in Shakaville where they host FIFA Tournaments and rent out PlayStations and Xbox games.
All of these business ventures may come as a surprise to some because Lethu is mostly known for his poetry, yet even in poetry, he goes beyond and transcends the borders of art. He moved to Johannesburg to pursue his poetry career and studied Professional Acting for Camera-Performance art at City Varsity in Braamfontein. This opened a lot of doors as he is now an Art director for a private company called WaterDropStudios in Johannesburg.
On 21 June 2021, he was placed in first place at Poetry Africa. Not only will his poem Uprising be published in Poetry Africa anthology, but he also gets to perform at Poetry Africa 2021. This adds on to his lengthy art accolades which is as follows:
- He has represented KZN in Johannesburg at the Drama for Life Poetry competition in 2017.
- Made it to the Top 3 of Word N Sound Poetry League Season 10 - the biggest poetry slam in the country.
- Showcased a poem alongside a contemporary dancer at the Africa Arts Festival- Wits Great Hall.
- Featured In an International showcase called Poets in Autumn - the biggest poetry tour in the World.
- Won the South African Poetry Award for best poet.
- Participated in an American Digital Slam in 2020- Poetry University.
- Ran a poetry workshop in KwaDukuza, grooming other upcoming poets and now he is also teaching other upcoming artists in Johannesburg.
- A co-writer of theatre piece Ushanelo that had a showcase in Limpopo, The National School of Arts, Wits University and City Varsity theatre room under 4Play production.
- Has judged a poetry slam competition.
- Founder of “Let The poet speak” which is an annual poetry show, that also features other art genres.
“Let The Poet Slam” is a poetry competition branching out from the (LTPS) Annual event. It is projected to take off in the second half of 2021 and will be a poetry tour.
Besides business and art, Lethu is a youth leader at his local church. He has always been in love with leadership development. He says that his mother has been his biggest pillar and he is grateful for his family that supports his dreams.
“I want to take poetry to a higher level, awaken new possibilities and transform the way we perceive our own capabilities. I want to be an inspiration to others no matter how elusive it seems. I want to inspire those behind me while respecting those before.”
Given Zulu was born in KwaDukuza and is an award-winning composer, musician, producer, television and sound engineer who has worked with Amanda Black, Ami Faku, Kid X, Professor, and DJ Ganyani just to name a few.
Given went to North Coast Primary and hands them major kudos for helping him develop his skill. “I was always in choirs, I was always the guy who was part of the people who were singing and that is where I realized I could beat box.” Every class had to perform at assembly every Friday and he would always want to do something related to music.
As he grew up and his love for beat boxing enhanced, he then decided to incorporate playing the guitar with beat boxing. “My sister had a guitar and when she went to school, I would take it under her bed and teach myself how to play it. Funny enough, it made a proper sound.”
Fridays at the local library were now notorious for cyphers as Given would play the guitar and beat box, and his sounds would captivate others and inspire them to start singing and rapping. Gigs started coming and he was doing shows where he would just beat box. From beat boxing at the local library and performing at local events to now, blessing the country with his musical talents. He has worked his way up, proving to be a true musical genius.
Owing to his flair for sound engineering, the innovator has worked with and is still working with, distinguished SABC news programs like Morning Live, Kids News, Trendz, Newsroom and Health Talk, The Globe and African Perspective. His composing geniuses has also scored him the chance to compose ads for big companies such as Capitec, FNB, Momentum and many more.
With such an impeccable list of big brands neatly tucked under his belt, Given remains authentic and does not wander off from his goals. He is not blinded by the glitz and glamour of the City of Gold and remains a champion for African ethnicity that cements him to wide-ranging African music which personifies the striking narrative of one’s identity. “I love the true South African sound from artists like Mafikizolo, Johnathan Butler, Hugh Masekela and Jabu Khanyile,” says Given.
He blends new school sounds that relate to the modern music for the modern listener, without recoiling from the African traditional sound. “I call my sound ‘Premium African Music’, its royalty!” he affirms. A preview of this ‘’Premium African Music’’ will be available this month as he teams up with Kid X and Professor to release a single. It is titled Ngibonani and is guaranteed to have you in your feels because it tells the tale of the classic love story about love at first site.