Jami Gavin, A.K.A. Ella G, has been spinning the decks at prominent EDM festivals and clubs in the country namely; Science Frikshun; Tomorrow Never Happened; Grietfest; and Oppi Koppi amongst others since stepping into the scene in 2013. Her specialty as a DJ is found within the various styles and tastes of the Drum & Bass genre and she’s one amongst the really few female D&B DJs out there which makes her something special, especially here in South Africa. When not mixing Drum & Bass tunes, she plays around with R&B and Hip-Hop genres which she has added to her music expertise as a disc jockey.
What are you?
A funky homo sapien
I am inspired by…
It could be anything, keep your eyes peeled, always absorb your surroundings, you never know what could inspire you. More specifically; other peoples work – hard work, nature, my family, my animal family, all the people I love.
Image by: Henk Steyn
A few of my favourite things in my fridge:
Tabasco, cheese and sparkling water.
5 most played…
- Vince Staples – Homage
- Nu:Logic – Driftwood
- SZA – Love Galore Feat. Travis Scott
- Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
- The Supremes – Baby Love
In my perfect world…
Fewer humans, more honesty, homes for all the doggos and cattos, equality for everyone, thing, space, ecosystem. Music.
What is creativity?
Being present and still.
Follow her on Instagram
Words By: Tsheola Asavela
Untangling the mystique behind braids.
Box braids and twists have a long and beautiful relationship with South Africa and black women all over the world. No matter the length, or size or style, braiding has been used for centuries to protect African hair while swagging it out.
Affectionately referred to as “Da Bratz” in South Africa, thick braids became popular with the emerging hip-hop pop culture of the afro conscious youth in the ’90s. According to an article on www.Essence.com, they were made iconically famous by Janet Jackson when she wore waist-length box braids in the 1993 flick Poetic Justice.
In the same year, Boom Shaka came out with their single “Its about time”; where the female duo consisting of Thembi Seete and the legendary late Lebo Mathosa sport waist length twist-outs in the equally iconic high ponytail. Over the years following that, Mathosa informally trademarked the iconic waist length blonde braids in South Africa.
Jada Pinkett Smith was styled in a braided bob when she played the role of Stony, who was the youngest of the female bandits in the 1996 classic Set It Off. Short braids are a favourite for young girls because they’re easier to handle, and they’re often embellished with beads to make them fancier and unique from the next.
Braided hair has remained the go-to everyday hairstyle for black women over the centuries. Unfortunately, “go-to every day” does not mean instant, as most of us know that getting braids done is a long and sometimes tedious process to accomplish all its majestic beauty.
To add to the mystique behind this historical hairstyle, research shows that Queen Nefertiti, who lived during the fourteenth century B.C was known for wearing dark blue wigs, and festive wigs were sometimes coated in a thin layer of gold. Dr Zinga A. Fraser, quoted in the Essence.com article says that historically, a specific look could indicate age, marital status or which clan one belonged to.
Braids in the 21st century come in every colour imaginable, and are still being worn for their intended purpose of protecting the complexity that is African hair and not so much as a reflection of age or marital status. SA pop star Sho-Madjozi is well known for her out of the box braids (see what I did there), that show influence from various African countries/Tribes as well as the world, the complexity and detail on her hair look nothing like the assumed “out-of-the-box convenience” that we all wish for.
Twars have even been fought over who is “allowed” to box braid their hair, such as the Kardashians being slammed for cultural appropriation. Plenty of arguments have also been had over the “appropriate” way for “African” hair to be worn. However, evidence shows that apart from protecting the hair, hairstyles are an expression of self and creativity. In the context of a global community, everyone should be able to wear their hair as they please.
Written by: Nokwazi Phangela
Numbers | Exhibiton by Keneilwe Mokoena
It has always been a numbers game even before humans came into existence, I mean..in the beginning there was one right?? or as Catholic priest, astronomer and professor, Georges Lemaître first noted in 1927 that “an expanding universe could be traced back in time to an originating single point”…a whole single (1) point, a BIG BANG…can you believe it? no? who cares if you don’t …anyways…
It even gets crazier to think numbers may have a mystical relationship with your life and who you are when you are born; This can be discovered when you get your hands dirty in the study of numerology and most specifically the study of life path numbers. I could make a gazillion examples of numbers in non-verbal communication, the golden ratio, sacred geometry…technology, biology…life, but I’d rather let you come to experience it for your self in a few hours, today at the last leg of Numbers | Exhibition curated by 2015 Reinhold Cassirer Award winner Keneilwe Mokoena.
Date: 18 August 2018
Location: Hazard Gallery (Maboneng), Johannesburg
Time: 14:00 until late
What to expect
Exploring her identity as a woman by using the cow as a metaphor, she addresses with issues of sexism not only in society, but in her own home. Cow treads on and interrogates the expectations women are burdened with, such as mundane chores in the home, and how she grapples with such expectations place on her at home.
Mostly using thread and circles, DuduBloom explores the themes of habits and cycles in sub-themes of movement and anxiety. Those themes interlink and create repetition of one another in different ways and different situations, which constantly create new cycles Codes are numbers. Colours are hex-codes. Moods and emotions are colour sensitive. New emotions, sad emotions, unexplainable emotions, cyclic emotions, joyful emotions, hidden emotions, frustrating emotions, deep emotions. Colours are mood and emotion evoking. Colours are hex-codes. Codes and numbers. What number are you feeling today?
If geometry is the expression of deep mathematical truths through symbols, then it is through geometry that numbers can speak to us on a personal and philosophical level about our experience. The perfect circle is a abstract symbol with its foundations in mathematics, but has also represented the power of the female in ancient and modern cultures alike. In this work the artist’s obsessive repetition of the circle overwhelms the defaced male figure in the foreground, its masculinity disrupted and consumed in a flow of sensual feminine geometry. Mathematics cannot adequately quantify the dominance of masculinity in our society, but here it is used as a weapon to tear it down.
The interactive installation ponders on the significance of the number ‘7’ throughout nature, represented through the use of seven circles in the creation of The Flower of Life pattern. It’s an attempt at transforming space and creating an immersive sensory experience of stepping into a drawing.
Boitumelo’s work focuses on the internal disputes of patriarchy. The internalised discrimination. The effects of a woman wearing a hypothetical “socially accepted” garment or even a garment she wears to make it clear that she is outcast from society. How she sees her own body from the male gaze (whether it’s misogynistic or from religious view). The comparison between other women and herself. Whether she’s holy or unholy. Her devotion to her faith versus living a liberated life.
There are lots more other artists including video instillations to check out, so pull through.
Written by: Lethabo Ngakane
Ruby Gill – Winter. A sound track to adulting.
Ruby Gill is a singer/songwriter and “aspiring redhead. earth enthusiast” from Jo’burg who’s currently based in Melbourne, Australia. She wrote her first song at the tender age of 11 and has since managed to sharpen, whilst still continuing to explore her sound as a young womxn.
This track, ‘Winter‘ boasts a strong and passionate message about loving and matters of letting go of what must be left. This comes through her powerful and yet, soothing voice as she takes it between higher and calm notes. It is a well-balanced blend of Pop, mixed with the raw acoustics of traditional Folk sound, resulting in something that’s groovy and easy to dance to. An example can be found in the different guitar sounds; one being a rocking electric and the other being a therapeutic acoustic. Everything just comes together to form a lively and energetic song which contradicts the dead and lowliness of the cold season thus giving bright hope of what’s to come, for it’s not a sad song. As a songwriter, Ruby’s poetic yet comprehendible lyrics make her deserving of praise and as a singer, her voice alone is enough as a soother of sorts.
With the winter season nearing its end, I reckon jamming this song is the ideal way to wave it goodbye, with no hard feelings at that. By the way, the tune came out as an exclusive download, limited to only 100 for free but you can still down load it on the link below.
Words by: Tsheola Asavela
Meet Aliki Saragas , The director and producer of Strike A Rock, A Film about the Womxn of Marikana.
“Remember Marikana” A slogan that is deeply etched in the crevices of our minds and hearts. It’s been 5 years since the horrific and brutal killings of Lonmin miners who went on a strike primarily because they were exploited as workers as well as the need for a dramatic change of their horrendous living conditions. In the wake of the massacre comes a story that is rarely told of how the womxn of Marikana rose “from dust and iron” to fight for their rights and for those who’s blood fell on deaf ears against a colossal mining company(3rd largest Platinum extractor in the world) – Lonmin.
On today’s #BehindTheLensSpecial we talk to Director/ Producer/ Cinematographer Aliki Saragas about Strike A Rock ,her first Documentary Feature Film and everything that surrounds this heart felt and ambitious project.
Lethabo: If a stranger had to bump into you let’s say, at the Gautrain station and they were intrigued by you, and they wanted to know who Aliki is… Who would you say you are?
Aliki: Well, that’s a hard question for a first one; Who am I? I’m trying to be an artist, an art activist; I am a feminist; my passion is photography. I love tea, traveling, music and I think that’s kind of who I am and I think as a young person I try to do the best as I can to try and bring awareness and solidarity to things I feel are important as well as things I feel that as young South Africans we have the potential and power to change. So, I guess in a nutshell that’s where I am at the moment.
L: Okay, so why did you choose this particular story?
A: This really started as part of my Masters… my Masters in Documentary Arts, and I’ve always been someone interested in gender politics and social justice. I came across this article by a journalist called Camalita Naiker who had written about the missing voices of Marikana. As someone who had heard of the Marikana Massacre, had seen it unfold on TV you know, had been incredibly distressed and depressed as well as angry at something can happen in post-Apartheid South Africa. I realized, and recognized from this article that there was this incredible group of women whose voices haven’t yet been heard, who haven’t been given the space in dominant media that they deserved and it’s seemingly erased from the discourse of Marikana. So, for me I felt like this is the story I wanted to tell and I was very fortunate to meet Ma’Thumeka and Ma’Primrose who are the leaders of the SikhalaSonke Women’s Organisation in Marikana and we started a relationship from there and three years later we’ve enabled to launch the film. It’s been an incredible process, an incredibly creative process with Sikhala Sonke. I’ve spent three years in their homes and with their families and so the story, is a really intimate story that is told from the women’s perspective, from the inside out.
Up until now really, the Marikana story has been told from outside in, with perspectives and experts kind of looking in- male voices dominating the space… for me I wanted to make a film that highlights their voices intimately from the inside out, and really just highlight their incredible activism; the empowerment, how they are so empowered. They are so empowering in the way that they fight for justice and accountability five years after the massacre and they are still fighting now. I just wanted to put their voices on the world stage and the film to be a mouthpiece for them.
For every mine in South Africa to be able to have a license to mine they need a social labour plan which is really a set of rules and obligations that they have to comply with which, is really about developing the community that’s around the mine and these are legal obligations.
L: Has Sikhala Sonke been relentless and resilient in their fight for justice?
A: One Hundred percent… completely… They formed Sikhala Sonke at a time of crisis, directly after the massacre to firstly unite the women of Wonderkop Marikana, and also to support the mine workers in their struggle and they have been doing so ever since. Really what people must also understand is that the living conditions in Marikana are (as Lonmin had admitted at the Commission of Inquiry) “the conditions are appalling”-you see those words? So the conditions in Nkaneng which is the informal settlement around the mine have no running water; there’s no electricity you know; there’s no ablution. When it rains , the water pours on top of their beds before water rushes in the household. These kind of conditions led to the strike in 2012.
They said they’re not allowed to march; they have to make another plan and get lawyers involved.
For every mine in South Africa to be able to have a license to mine they need a social labour plan which is really a set of rules and obligations that they have to comply with which, is really about developing the community that’s around the mine and these are legal obligations. For example, the film unpacks that in 2006 Lonmin had a social labour plan; one part of it was that they had to build 5 500 houses in the community of Marikana. And then in 2011 by their deadline; and by the time of the massacre in 2012 only three show houses had been built out of 5 500. So, this is the context in which the women find themselves in; and they have done countless marches against Lonmin, some of which they were not allowed to march. They said they’re not allowed to march; they have to make another plan, and get lawyers involved. In other ways they have been speaking on public platforms since the massacre to try and bring a light onto the living conditions and what’s happening in Marikana, and they’ve been doing so seamlessly throughout and even managed to lodge a complaint at the World Bank for an investment that the World Bank made to Lonmin- $15 million dollars was invested into Lonmin for development which nothing has happened. Sikhala Sonke, comprising mostly of mothers and grandmothers who live in shacks were able to sit with Lonmin at a table through this complaint at the World Bank. This is an incredible group of women and the leaders; Thumeka and Primrose are the most strong, powerful women that are leading this movement.
L: I’m actually blown away by some of the things that you’re saying, and the level at which these women have been able to push and fight for their cause. And, when I was reading about the movie I came across the name Paulina… who was Paulina? I became very curious because Sikhala Sonke was started as a result of her death so, I would like to know, why she was killed and who she was.
She died as a result of this police brutality in the community and her name has kind of been forgotten in the whole narrative
A: A month after the massacre… not a lot of people really know that Marikana became a de facto state of emergency where the police would enter the community with impunity and raid homes for traditional weapons; or for violence that needed arrest or whatever the case is. But, they would do so by throwing tear gas into people’s homes you know; shooting rubber bullets, really in the community which is in essence a space where women and children live and walk around and just try to get by every day. So, what happened is, a month after the massacre this was all going on, the women had gathered, it wasn’t yet officially Sikhala Sonke but they had gathered and were waiting for other people to arrive. The police entered the community as they have been doing and just started firing rubber bullets. To Primrose who is one of the leaders in the film, I mean her story within the film and through her own leadership; she ends up being an MP in parliament. So, that’s incredible as well but-so Primrose was there. They were shooting rubber bullets and they all kind of hunched and just waited for the bullets to hit them, and Paulina was then shot. She was shot on her leg with a rubber bullet that got lodged into her leg; she went to go have an operation but died due to complication from the shooting. She died as a result of this police brutality in the community and her name has kind of been forgotten in the whole narrative, even when they bring up her name on the Commission of Enquiry; they said that her story fell out of the realm of what they were trying to achieve at the commission.
L: Are you serious?
A: Ja, there’s really been no justice for Paulina. As a result also of that, women did another march against police brutality and Sikhala Sonke was really kind of thrust into fruition from Paulina’s death. So ja, that’s Paulina’s story. The film is dedicated to her, and to her memory and we hope that this film as can bring more awareness to her story.
L: Indeed. I think it’s very important for her name to live on . This whole community came together based obviously on the Marikana massacre and the injustice that happened to Paulina. Her story needs to be told, people need to know that there were other casualties of the cause and I do hope in the future there’ll be more about her and what she stood for, and what she was about at that time as well… Just to go a bit lighter, is this your first film project?
A: Yeah! It is my first feature doc.
L: How was it embarking on such a huge project, and the experience behind it?
A: Ja, I mean, it was a process of over three years… I mean, I started the project when I was twenty-four. Starting, I was very concerned and always questioning myself: “Am I emotionally mature enough for this story? Can I tell this story responsibly, and give justice to the story? These are constantly questions-you know, I’m not from Marikana; I’m from Johannesburg; a young White girl. How am I going to give justice to these incredible people? These were the questions I grappled with throughout the process, and I feel as a documentary film maker, these are the questions you have to ask because you have such a responsibility; you have people’s representations in your hands. It was a huge learning curve for me and after spending so much time with Ma’Thumeka, M’aPrimrose and Sikhala Sonke, it became so much more than just a film that was about reinserting voices. It became to me a film that was so important about the current landscape; and about extractives; and about what they were still fighting for. It’s not just about the massacre which is the starting point in the film; it is about what is continuously happening, and not only in Marikana- it’s kind of like a microcosm for the rest of South Africa; and norms and extractions; and even the globe itself. It was really challenging-because it’s incredibly, obviously hard content. The community is really traumatized, I think a lot of people don’t realize how traumatized the community is; the women; the children; it runs really, really deep. And, there are organizations like the CSVR who are trying to assist with counselling, Thumeka herself is a counsellor in the community. So, obviously the content was challenging as a first-time film maker and as a woman you know, that also brought up its own challenges with funding; you know, a lot of it you have to do yourself to be able to get it into fruition. I mean, I filmed most of the film myself as well so, I must say that I had the most incredible team around me; mentors and producers that just held open doors for me, and I’ll always be forever grateful. We also had the Bertha Foundation; Afridocs; Women Make Movies to name a few. Even though it was hard to get funding, there was a group of people who felt that this film was worth being made, and I’ll always be grateful for that but that was also quite a big challenge. I guess at the end of the day like, this film completely changed my life; and as the film grew, I grew. I can’t see myself doing any other work because; the whole story and the whole process touched me so deeply. Ja, it’s completely my life now. We started a Big Impact campaign with the film too; it goes alongside the film so, as we do our festival screenings which, we we’re very fortunate and very humble to be doing quite well and winning some awards. we are screening at universities; schools; and organizations all across the country and even in other parts of Africa as well as the world which is really based in building public pressure to assist Sikhala Sonke with what they are doing. If you go onto out website: www.strikearock.co.za there’s a ‘Take Action’ page where anybody can choose which way they’d like to take action whether it’s organizing a screening; or supporting Sikhala Sonke directly; support the Big Impact campaign directly, there’s multiple ways in which people can assist. One of the greatest things actually is that MaThumeka, MaPrimrose and myself were invited by War on Want [confirm wording of organization at 12:20s] which, is this big organization, to go to the UK this week Friday (11/08/2017) and we doing this six-day tour of the film in the UK with solidarity groups like the Marikana Support Campaign; War on Want; Black Lives Matter movement]; and other feminist movements. We are going to be picketing outside Lonmin on the 16th of August with MaThumeka and MaPrimrose there to actually bring their story to their doorstep. So that’s also part of the campaign we are doing alongside the film, and I know that this is going to continue for quite a few years most probably, and I hope that it will put the pressure that we need.
L: With regards to the screenings and putting it out there, what are you hoping to achieve? What are you hoping, giving this film to communities around mining towns; communities in general who are suffering from such injustices will achieve?
A: I mean, there’s multiple things that we hope to achieve for organizations; and activists; and you say universities who watch the film, we hope that it stirs in them solidarity and anger to be able to build on this public pressure that we need. ‘Cause the more people see the film, the more people see the injustice and it kind of exposes it and then, we hope that that will put the public pressure that we need when we do hopefully take the film to policy makers and to the top- who needs to see it. And then for our community-based screenings at mining-affected communities; we have fantastic partners already like Amnesty International and what we plan on doing is to create social labour plan toolkits. Every community that we go to we show them what their social labour plans are for that particular mine, and what their right to recourse around that is, as well as feminist workshops. With regards to community-based screenings, it’s about knowing and inspiring people to see what (especially women in the community) Sikhala Sonke is able to do and hopefully inspire people to do the same, and to know what their rights and recourse are. So, those are some of the actionable goals we’d like to achieve through the release of the film.
L: One last question, please tell what the Sisters Working in Film & Television is, and what your role is in that organization?
A: Cool. So, SWIFT (Sisters Working in Film & Television) is a newly formed NPO for women in the television and film industry in South Africa. So, everyone who is in the film and television industry both in front, and behind the lens is welcome to join our organization. We launched officially in Durban, at the Durban International Film Festival this year in July.
It’s a fantastic organization because it really came out of a need that women aren’t necessarily safe in the industry; that they needed mentorship and skills; that they felt they needed a connection and network of women. I’m involved in the advocacy sub-committee of SWIFT. What we really focussed on is the fact that women really, in the film and television industry in general, in South Africa don’t feel safe. We launched a survey in the beginning of the year which was for sexual harassment and discrimination, and the statistics that came out of that survey were really appalling. For example, 70% of women don’t feel safe in the industry; I could send you all the stats if you like, I can’t think them all from the top of my head. It’s horrific, and so what we currently doing is we are currently busy with the #ThatsNotOkay campaign which we launched yesterday at the Mzansi Women’s Festival. It’s a campaign to bring awareness to sexual harassment and discrimination on on set and hopefully put in place as a code of conduct that all the big players in the industry will have to advocate for people to sign so that women can be protected against sexual harassment and discrimination. That’s what I’m currently doing at SWIFT is that we pushing the #ThatsNotOkay campaign, to make it safer for women in the industry. But SWIFT is very Multifaceted since we’ve got mentorship and skills programmes where young women can be mentored by other professionals to kind of bridge that gap from the university to the industry.
We also have Sisterhood Cinema, which shows transformative roles of women in front, and behind the lens you know, kind of an empowered representation. We’ve got a very large social media group and following and ja, it is a really great organization. We officially have been around since the middle of last year; we’ve officially launched and we already got a huge following and footstep around the country. So there obviously is a need for this, and hopefully we will be going from strength to strength.
L: Wow! Look, you doing amazing work; your team, the people you working with, you guys are really standing for something very powerful. Most importantly, you giving back also, empowering communities and empowering yourselves at the same time so, I really feel like I’d like to thank you first and foremost for embarking on this journey. I believe that you have found yourself as well in terms of what you wanna be about you know, in life, the whole spectrum. I believe. I feel like congratulating you- “congratulating” is not the right word but, I am humbled and I respect what you are doing. I hope this reaches as far as it should, and applies the right kind of pressure and lives get changed thoroughly through Marikana; through the SWIFT organization you know, I wish you all the best.
A: Thank you. Thank you very much, I really appreciate that.
Stream Strike a rock on Afridocs watch it on Sunday 20th August at 10pm (CAT) on BET Africa, DStv channel 129
Words By: Lethabo Ngakane
Devour Ke Lenyora – We’re almost there EP
Devour Ke Lenyora is an emcee/songwriter, with a vocal ability as well who hails from D-Town (Daveyton), Benoni. This is her first EP project titled We’re Almost There, and it has a total of 5 tracks and a lot to say.
The intro is titled ‘Things I could’ve said’ Which is an emotional foundation for this project. She goes through a soft retort of things that she wishes she could have said to what seems to be a significant other that she left vulnerable because of her inability to love him, the song is broken by hooks of her melodies over an acoustic guitar, singing “Thula, thula sana, umama uzobuya” (quiet down son, mother will return) words we believe are to a person she couldn’t mother nor love.
‘Blood On My Hands 2.0’ is divided into three sections – a snippet from the Lauryn Hill – MTV Unplugged album followed by a sinister yet sincere verse that she drops after pouring herself a drink, the verse consists of confrontations with God on judgement day, relentlessly hustling and deep thoughts about breaking the chains of poverty against seemingly insurmountable odds; and it closes with an outro from another Lauryn Hill clip topped by a few bars where she spits metaphors which compare her skill and demeanor to greats such as Thandiswa Mazwai and Brenda Fassie to name a couple. The beats are pleasantly mellow and enchanting, with some Jazzy and soulful elements that make them easy-going to the ear.
With joints like ‘Something To Believe In’ being a perfect example wherein she talks about faith, with Mx DaFrxshPrince on a joint effort in the composition. There are some interesting production vibes with unique and catchy beats as well, which are found in songs like ‘Envy’ and the love joint ‘Seasons Change’. As for the matter of the lyrical content, Lady Di pours out her heart and mind with all the honesty she can conjure up in her serious, matured style and her seasoned lyrical skills. She ends the EP with ‘Visible Ghosts’ where she talks about her dad.
I would certainly rate We’re Almost There as being amongst the D-Town classics and generally speaking; I rate it as a good and insightful listen with some lovely beats to relax by.
Words by: Tsheola Asavela
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