News Brief

These South Africans are Being Awarded Presidential Honors

From veteran musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka to actress Mary Twala-Mhlongo, these distinguished South Africans are receiving national orders from the president today.

The national orders are the highest honors that can be bestowed by the president of South Africa to South Africans and foreign nationals who have not only made it their business to advance democracy, but improved the lives of other South Africans. These awards include, among several others, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli and the Order of Mapungubwe.


Among the recipients is internationally recognized musician, Yvonne Chaka Chaka. She received the Order of Ikhamanga in silver for her contribution to music and bringing about social cohesion in South Africa. Chaka Chaka's song "Umqombothi" is perhaps her most well known and was from the 2005 album Hotel Rwanda which was used for the movie with the same title. Back in 2017, Chaka Chaka was awarded the Global Good Star and Power Award by BET.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka - Umqombothi (South Africa) youtu.be

Legendary actress and mother to celebrity and television personality Somizi Mhlongo, Mary Twala-Mhlongo, also received the Order of Ikhamanga in silver for her lifelong work in film and television. Twala-Mhlongo has acted in the historically important 1992 film Sarafina alongside Whoopi Goldberg as well as Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and even The Dark Tower alongside Idris Elba. Twala-Mhlongo received this award along with fellow performing artist, Nomhle Nkonyeni.

Mathata Tsedu, a veteran journalist who for decades has dedicated his life to seeing the liberation of South Africa, was also awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in silver. He is the former editor of City Press and board member of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

In a special award, the Order of Mendi (for bravery) was awarded posthumously to Thapelo Tambani, a 9-year-old boy who drowned whilst saving a friend of his who had fallen into a construction pit. He is the youngest to ever receive this award.


Photo by Ned Dishman, courtesy of Pops Bonsu.

In Conversation: Meet Pops Mensah-Bonsu—the Ghanaian Former Pro Player Trailblazing the Front Desk of the NBA

We speak to the general manager of the Capital City Go-Go about his journey to professional basketball stardom, his hopes for the Basketball Africa League and more.

Nana Pops Mensah-Bonsu didn't take basketball seriously at first. For the now General Manager of the Capital City Go-Go and a former player in the NBA and European leagues, the game wasn't as exciting as other sports. "For me, I was impressionable," he says, "I was young; all my friends played soccer and ran track. That's what I really wanted to do."

Born and raised in London, England, the former pro with Ghanaian roots (whose name stems from his middle name, Papa—the equivalent to 'junior') grew up playing soccer and running track. His older brother started playing basketball, a relatively invisible sport compared to soccer, when he was about 16 in the early 90s and eventually moved to the U.S. on a scholarship. Mensah-Bonsu says that when parents witnessed his brother's experience, they took it as an opportunity for the rest of their children to do the same—allowing them to have a better opportunity to succeed.

Mensah-Bonsu's dad introduced him to basketball and took him to the other side of London where he started developing his skills. After juggling the three sports with basketball on the back burner, Mensah-Bonsu eventually realized his potential once he made the move stateside himself as a teen. Making a name for himself as a student-athlete at George Washington University, his work ethic led him to a professional career in both the NBA, playing for the likes of the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors as well as internationally—playing for clubs in Spain, France, Turkey, Russia and Italy, to name a few.

Retiring in his early 30s, Mensah-Bonsu is still a part of the game—but on the decision-making side. Currently serving as the Capital City Go-Go's general manager of the G League (the official minor league of the NBA) in Washington, D.C., he's trying to blaze a trail for more diversity and inclusion in the NBA front office. "I really want to do my best and succeed at this next level because I know how profound and impactful it can be if it's done well," he says. "I put pressure on myself to work extra hard to make sure I can get to this position where I can have that impact on these guys and show them a mirror image of themselves and show them how possible it is."

We caught up with Pops Mensah-Bonsu to learn more about his journey navigating basketball stardom to calling the shots behind the scenes, his hopes for the newly established Basketball Africa League and more in the interview below.

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25K. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

How a 3-Year-Old Song Earned SA Artist 25K a Deal with Universal & a Co-Sign From AKA

We interview 25K, the South African rapper poised to be the country's next star.

AKA was so moved by up-and-coming Pretoria rapper and producer 25K's single "Culture Vulture," he gave him a slot on his monumental Orchestra on the Square concert in March.

"The whole process when Kiernan (AKA's real name) reached out," recalls 25K, who will later admit AKA is one of his favorite artists, "that was like a dream come true for me. We were doing a gig, when I got home, I got a text, and it said, 'Yo, this is Kiernan, hit me back.' So, I saved the number, I was like, 'Yo,' then he FaceTimed me. He was like, '25K, I just had to reach you, dawg. Your song is great,' So, I was out of words. Just listening to him talk to me. He was like, 'Bro, we need to cook up something.' But eventually, time will tell. So the people will get to hear."

Thabiso Khathi, the respected hip-hop head & record label executive popularly known as Hip-Hop Scholar, as well as the newly appointed Head of Urban at Universal Music Group South Africa, lets the cat out of the bag. "I don't know if the world knows that AKA officially jumped on the remix for 'Culture Vulture,' which we will be bringing out in the next few weeks," says Scholar. Today, him and the label have gathered journalists at the Universal Music Group headquarters in Rosebank to witness the young artist's signing.

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News Brief
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Nigerian-British Actor Susan Wokoma's First Rom-Com Feature Film Is In the Works

She's set to write and star in BBC Films-backed 'Three Weeks'—a rom-com drama about abortion.

Just two months ago, we got wind of Susan Wokoma landing a series regular role in CBS' new comedy pilot, Super Simple Love Story.

The Nigerian-British actor and 2017 BAFTA Breakthrough Brit honoree continues to make power moves in entertainment, as it was recently announced that she's in the process of writing her feature debut, Three Weeks, Variety reports.

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