Arts + Culture
Photo via Siya Beyile's Instagram page.

5 Episodes from Siya Beyile's Podcast #TheThreadedExchange You Should Listen To

The South African creative's engaging podcast explores the lives of young African entrepreneurs.

"African entrepreneurship" is a topic that has become inescapable in the last few years, from panels at development conferences to aunties telling you to "get creative and start something new" when you complain about the job market.

Siya Beyile's podcast, #TheThreadedExchange, finds a way to makes stories about African entrepreneurship more personal, political, and sometimes even emotional.

Beyile, the founder of the styling consultancy and magazine The Threaded Man, creates a show that feels like listening in to new friends talking about surviving "the industry." His guests are young black South African entrepreneurs, and Beyile is able to create a sense of intimacy on the show because he relates to their struggles. The discussions vary with topics like finding the right investors, African men and depression, romance and entrepreneurship, and how starting a business ages you emotionally.

The show airs every Tuesday on Cliff Central. Guests have included Masonwabe Ntloko, Laduma Ngxokolo, Aphiwe Mkefe, Langa Mavuso, Lulama Wolf, Lerato Kgamanyane and many more.

Here are highlights from five episodes, including some older ones, that show why #TheThreadedExchange is worth listening to.

"I'm Angry with Tshepo the Jean Maker"

This earlier episode features Tshepo Mohlala, the founder of the denim company, Tshepo the Jean Maker. In the episode, Beyile asks Mohlala what has fueled his success. Explaining how his childhood struggles motivated him he says, "Anger is what really drove me to be an entrepreneur." Anger is not the most marketable emotion, and this makes the episode feel less calculated than a story from an entrepreneurship panel. The episode ends on a lighter note as Mohlala talks about other ways his childhood has influenced his work including the story behind his collection "Wenawedwa" which is named after his ex-girlfriend.

Listen to the episode here.

"Amanda Black: Hitting the Right Note"

This recent episode features singer Amanda Black, and you can feel how much Beyile is inspired by Black's work. "I think your music frees people," he says in the middle of the episode and it's clear that he's been meaning to point this out for some time. Instead of a conventional interview about new music the singer is working on, Beyile and Black talk about the complexities of having a public career while trying to grow personally. Though Beyile says he has learned to be careful about speaking too openly about his life and his family, the episode never feels like Black and Amanda are being stingy with talking about their personal struggles.

Listen to the episode here.

"Feed Your Passion"

Beyile's guest in this episode is Luyanda Mafanya, a private chef and food blogger who built her brand on Instagram. Mafanya's story about becoming a chef is charming as she talks about how she would spend hours at the supermarket before turning a corner into an isle with an interesting ingredient. In a moment, a regular shopping trip would be the beginning of a creative new dish. When Beyile asks Mafanya whether it is her age, her gender, or her race that has caused the most hurdles in her career, she explains that not going to culinary school has caused the most difficulty. Mafanya learned how to cook from her grandmother and from tutorials on Youtube, and the show explores the possibilities and limitations of learning a craft online.

Listen to the episode here.

"Guard Your Business"

This is the episode for folks who are waiting to hear entrepreneurs talk more openly about the intersection of politics and business. Inga Khubeka, founder of the interior design agency INDALO, goes on a hilarious rant about the ways that governments refuse to give creatives opportunities. When Beyile asks him what he hates most about being an entrepreneur he says, "If there's a deal happening at the department of education or whatever the case is, they won't take a person who is skilled and talented for such a project. They will take just take a clown because they know someone who is politically affiliated." Khubeka doesn't hold back, making discussions about building a sustainable business that could be dry enjoyable.

Listen to this episode here.

"The Realities of Being a Young Black Female Entrepreneur"

This episode features Charmaine Ngobeni and Amanda Sibiya, the co-founders of the consulting agency, Conte Creatives, and the publication, Conté Magazine. The conversation gets into the politics of being a black female entrepreneur in South Africa as the guests tell stories about inappropriate men in business, navigating friendship with a business partner, and whether the term "Alpha male" should be given a new meaning. Though Beyile and his co-host Joe Nawaya sometimes ask questions that are too predictably gendered, they still try to confront uncomfortable topics that lead to engaging conversations about gender in business relations.

Listen to the episode here.

(Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

Blitz the Ambassador Named 2020 Guggenheim Fellow

The Ghanaian artist and filmmaker is among 175 "individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."

Ghanaian filmmaker Blitz Bazawule, also known as Blitz the Ambassador has been named a 2020 Guggenheim fellow.

The musician, artist and director behind he critically acclaimed film The Burial of Kojo, announced the news via social media on Thursday, writing: "Super excited to announce I've been awarded the Guggenheim 2020 Fellowship. Truly grateful and inspired."

He is among 175 scholars, "appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation's ninety-sixth competition," says the Guggenheim.

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Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Spotlight: Nicole Rafiki's Images Merge the Contemporary with the Traditional to Challenge Stereotypes

Get familiar with the work of Norway-based Congolese visual artist Nicole Rafiki.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Nicole Rafiki, a Congolese visual artist who uses symbolism to challenge stereotypes in a critical way. Read more about the inspirations behind her work below, and check out some of her stunning images underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Facebook and her Rafiki Arts Initiative here.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

As an interdisciplinary artist, I use symbolism to re-imagine and challenge the stereotypical depiction of spaces, contexts and the people who are affected by global migration. I view my work as a platform for dialogues about identity, fluidity, place, and belonging. As an artist with a diverse cultural, historic and artistic background, I use art to inform, engage and heal. Because it is too easy to fall into the trap of promoting idealism or clichés, I make it a point to be critical and analytical in my work.

What is the message behind your recent photo-series "The Crown"?

This work came about after I had been stuck in Lagos traffic for 2 hours, listening to a radio show about the role of women in the household. One middle-aged woman called in to say that a "proper woman has to be domesticated". Listening to that radio show just made it seem like, for many people, it doesn't matter how educated, professionally accomplished or otherwise successful a woman is as long as she does not have the required domestic skills required by the African society. The urban attire complemented by traditional African elements illustrates the double role that many young African women have in our communities. And yet, that point is made against a yellow backdrop, symbolizing our power, historical achievements, hope and optimism for the future.

As an African artist, what do you want to communicate with your art about the continent?

The core message in my art is the promotion of our personal and collective healing process. That is only possible if we all understand the importance of playing our part. I believe that this is a very important time to be active in the contemporary art field. We have reached a historical point where Africans from the continent and the diaspora are challenging the status quo in the art industry by creating their own platforms to discuss, share and challenge the dominating philosophical, artistic, political and cultural perspectives on art. We have the power, individually and collectively to create a different legacy for the next generation and have personally just begun exploring all the possibilities out there.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Mkono" (2018), in loving memory of my grandmother.Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Untitled" (2019), in loving memory of Benon Lutaaya. Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Not without my bags" (2019)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Kadogo (2019)"Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Mwenye imani haitaji macho" (A man of faith needs no eyes), (2019). Model: AfrogallonismImage courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Crown" (2020)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Crown" (2020). Model: Deborah Kandoua AffouéImage courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Kwabende" (2019)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

6 South African Podcasts to Listen to During the Lockdown

Here are six South African podcasts worth listening to.

South Africa has been on lockdown for almost two weeks as a measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and it looks like the period might just get extended. If you are one of those whose work can't be done from home, then you must have a lot of time in your hands. Below, we recommend six South African podcasts you can occupy yourself with and get empowered, entertained and informed.

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Photo courtesy of BLK JKS.

7 South African Punk Bands You Should Check Out

Here are some South African punk bands—old and new—that you should be listening to.

For many years, the punk scene in South Africa has been thriving through a hands-on DIY attitude in which bands can foster their own homegrown audience without relying on mainstream culture. Music festivals like Soweto Rock Revolution have played a big part in it. Bands like National Wake showed the way and TCIYF are following that path and making punk more relevant than ever in the country.

Here are seven South African punk bands you should check out.

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