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IN CONVERSATION WITH SAMURAI FARAI, A RISING ARTIST

Farai Engelbrecht, also known as ‘Samurai Farai,’ is a multidisciplinary artist and curator who has carved out a niche for himself. The South African-born Zimbabwean artist, who moved from Rustenburg to Cape Town, is inspired by showing children that “they can do it too.” Farai debuted his work in front of a star-studded audience in March 2022, at the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz C Class. He spray painted the newly released C Class, as well as designing the event’s logo and artwork that accompanied the vehicle’s release. He has travelled to Black Coffee’s Grammy Dinner party and worked on a variety of projects since the launch. We had the opportunity to interview the young artist about his artwork, projects, and aspirations.

MUZI: We’ve been following your amazing artwork and would like to know who Farai Engelbrecht is and why art such a complex thing?

FARAI: Farai Engelbrecht is not the same as Samurai…you get the picture. Samurai Farai is a creative pseudonym and identity born in 2017 during an art school conceptual art project. But I think that personality is core to me; right now I’m supposed to be able to discuss things like my mental health and the mental health in the community and try to raise awareness about it – but I chose art because it was the simplest tool I found to communicate how I was feeling. It was the first tool I learned to use to express myself. Some people enjoy music, others enjoy cooking, and still others enjoy physical activity, but I enjoy creating and working with my hands. So, it delves deeply into my childhood experiences of happiness and trauma, but it now serves to inspire youth and show that a young black person can be an independent creative.

MUZI: In relation to your childhood trauma, I read one of your interviews – I believe it was on GQ magazine – about your upbringing. “Born in Rustenburg, Farai grew up with a Zimbabwean father. ” While he lost his father to cancer when he was young, he was raised solely by his mother – the strongest woman he knows – which ultimately shaped his sensitivity and views on gender.” Can you tell us more about that, as well as your overall gender views?

FARAI: What are my thoughts on gender? Wow, what a broad question. I believe I can say that toxic masculinity is something that is learned and inherited through generational trauma, and it’s a very insane rhetoric or narrative that I haven’t necessarily fully unpacked yet, but for a young man to lose a father leaves the narrative or journey of manhood very open, doesn’t it? Because there is no overarching paternal figure who authorises or dictates how you should be and behave, my relationship with my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sister shaped my identity as a man.

Growing up with these incredible women in my life taught me to be more accepting of different bodies and genders, as well as to question my own sexuality. So I believe that my sexuality is not determined or dictated by my father as a man, which is why I value my mother and the women in my life so much because they shaped my sensitivity towards myself and others.

   

MUZI: You studied art at Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art; I’d like to know which lessons in your art education proved to be the most valuable, and how you put them into practice?

FARAI: One of the first things I realised was that the gallery system would not work for me. I wouldn’t call it a lesson as much as an insight because implementations are frequent lessons, but realising I wouldn’t fit into the gallery system was extremely discouraging, but it also inspired me to calculate and figure out how I would survive without the system.

I learned to be the artist I didn’t want to be in art school. So these lessons, as well as the direct communication about money and the measurable value of my time. It’s not something they teach us in college; it’s something you have to learn for yourself, and you also have to spread that knowledge beyond the people by opening the gallery that I have and nurturing the relationships that I have with younger artists.

MUZI: Let’s talk about your beautiful new project with Mercedes-Benz Sandton. How did that happen?

FARAI: Mercedes-Benz Sandton approached me because they want to do a multidisciplinary project that involves various creatives, dancers, models, singers, and artists, and I believe they saw me as an artist who could contribute to this space. This opportunity resulted in one of the best creative places in South Africa in my opinion, because I believe the last person in South Africa to paint on a car was Nelson Mokamo, and the person before that was Esther Mahlangu, and now I can comfortably stoop to being the third South African to be able to paint a European car, and not enough people are aware of that.

MUZI: What do you hope to gain from this collaboration?

FARAI: I think what I’m trying to accomplish with this collaboration is primarily to inspire other people, particularly young people, and to plant the seed of motivation that it is possible, because there is no reason for me to be here doing what I do other than the fact that I gassed myself up to do it, and I guess I just want to plant in those seeds of hope in other people. Sometimes I feel like I’m sowing those seeds in my family, with my mother and many others. I believe it is more akin to the agency of moving with bravery. I’m not here to say, “Hey, I want to take over the world and be the greatest artist ever.” I just want people to feel free to be themselves.

MUZI: If you had to give a piece of advice to emerging young artists about what you have discovered in the industry, what would you like them to know about?

FARAI: I want others to understand that exhibiting in an art gallery does not validate you as an artist or imply that you contribute anything new to the world. I believe that we should stop viewing the gallery system as the pinnacle of success and instead consider how we can create, express ourselves, and present ourselves independently of these spaces – but in spaces that we own.

MUZI: Finally, what can we expect from Farai after this?

FARAI: You can expect more clothes from me, uhm, you can probably expect some music from me, you can probably expect some set design in the new year, and creative direction from just me being me.

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Designer at work

SuitablyNorma – Emerging Fashion Brand To Watch

It’s always exciting to see emerging fashion labels. On the other hand, this emerging fashion brand is taking big steps like debuting at Nairobi Fashion Week and launching a new men’s collection. SuitablyNorma is a bespoke and sophisticated fashion brand founded by Norma Mngoma, a seasoned entrepreneur and philanthropist. Fashion in 2022 is more about having a deeply original sense of personal style than being on trend. That’s why Suitablynorma offers unique looks that complement each individual’s style and personality. 

You have a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology (IT) and worked for many years as an executive in one of the big IT organisations, Gijima; You are also known for your charitable work, having established the Norma Mngoma Foundation. What sparked your interest in the fashion industry?

I’ve worked in IT for a long time and people don’t like to dress up, so I saw an opportunity and decided to launch my own clothing line to appeal to people who don’t like to dress up. For example, when the biggest annual IT conferences take place, most people want to be formal but don’t know where to get suits or special clothing. As a result, I saw a gap and decided to offer services such as tailored suits and personal styling. 

I also have a large corporate clientele that includes lawyers and doctors. Most people in the above professions don’t have time to shop because they are either in court or practicing. However, if they know that there is a place, they can call, ask for something special for a specific event, and have a tailor come to their home or office; and have fittings in their own comfort space, they don’t worry about what to wear or how to dress and just go about their business. To answer your question, that’s what sparked my interest in fashion.

Let’s talk about your SuitablyNorma clothing line, how it came about and what the brand stands for.

SuitablyNorma is perfect for you. As previously mentioned, we offer services such as dressing and styling people according to their personal style. Our bespoke suits are designed from scratch; It’s up to our clients what they want and I help a lot with my client’s style; Colour matching (day or night colours or colours for winter or summer) and designs based on customer’s body shape. So I always give advice. This is how our fashion line was created, which is influenced by the fit, because the clothes have to fit you.

This clothing line is designed for people who want to dress comfortably. I don’t like clothes that make you feel uncomfortable, but I do like clothes that are comfortable and functional; We use high quality fabrics that can go to dry cleaning at least 5 or 10 times. Our fabric is now breathable in the summer, so the fabric needs to be breathable so you don’t get too hot when wearing a suit.

Congratulations on your latest men’s collection, I love the men’s luxury tuxedo collection. Tell us more about it and what we can expect from SuitablyNorma in the future.

Our latest collection is inspired by the spring season, so there are lots of bright colours. I hadn’t thought about a men’s line since I started, until one of my close friends, Mohale Motaung, and my business partner, with whom I own a news platform in Dubai, talked me into it. So four months ago the three of us got together and came up with a spring collection for men. 

We are currently working with clients from East London, Swaziland, Botswana, The Netherlands and China to name a few and we intend to expand and have a client base in other areas. There is also some work in progress, which you will learn about in the near future.

How can my readers get their hands on your custom made clothing line?

We can be reached on Whatsapp, Instagram and our website and you can place orders by email. If you are not in South Africa we have a standard template that we have sent out to everyone and you can go to any seamstress and give us your measurements.

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blaqnificant

Thoriso Magongwa – The world respects excellence

There are many concerns about diversity in the ballet profession. According to Thoriso, many factors contribute to ballet’s lack of diversity: Economic inequity (ballet training is notoriously expensive), a lack of role models for aspiring black ballet dancers to look up to, and a lack of funding for underserved communities are all issues. Thoriso Magongwa is the first black ballet dancer to perform at the Czech Republic’s national theater. He studied at the Ballet Theatre African Academy and the National School of the Arts, and has performed in South Africa, Germany, Austria, and Russia.

Muzi: I am just curious, how did you end up in this profession and why ballet?

Thoriso: It is quite a simple story actually. I was at school and we had extramural activities and ballet was introduced. I used to be an academic when I was at school and I was always very curious as a child and wanted to do things that expanded my vocabulary and would lead me to unknown lands and when I started off with ballet, it was something I didn’t know anything about because in my family we don’t have a history of ballet dancers, my family is very academic.

When I discovered this world something just attracted me to it.  I like the physical aspect, the French terminology, I loved that it involved my body and I liked that it seemed quite exclusive. It was a huge challenge. It had this elitist thing about it that made me want to fit into it because I’ve always aspired to be the highest version of myself so I always wanted to be a part of that. So I went to ballet and my body was not the right body type but I pushed through, I was very diligent and focused and I knew that this struck the core with my tastes. I had a visceral connection to the synergy of the body, the music, the lifestyle and it took to become a ballet dancer, so that’s how ballet happened to me.

Muzi: You mentioned exclusivity; how do you feel about ballet being perceived as a white profession?

Thoriso: That is a question that people are always drawn to. Ballet is a Eurocentric art form that originated in Italy and France. It is not a black and white art form; rather, it is a Eurocentric art form, and if you look at the history of Europe, you will notice that the majority of the people are Caucasian. Later on, it spread throughout the world, and people became interested in it. It later entered Africa as a result of colonisation. When we look at it in that light, we realize that black people were oppressed by apartheid and were denied access to the worlds of theatre and the fine arts. We only had to educate ourselves over time.

So yes, the majority of people who do ballet are Caucasian because it has been in their cultures’ history and DNA for so long, but that does not mean that it is not open to black people. The same could be said for horseback riding, cricket, or tennis; nobody is stopping us from becoming the next Serena Williams, for example. It is a matter of taste, interest, knowledge, and determining whether you truly desire it for yourself. I don’t think it’s a black-and-white issue, but rather one of personal preference.

Muzi: How can we bring ballet to the townships, particularly to township schools that do not have it? Ballet is taught in your multi-racial schools.

Thoriso: The tricky part is that ballet is not a cheap sport; leotards are expensive, shoes are expensive, stockings are expensive, fees for ballet exams and teachers are expensive, and so on. It also excludes people from underprivileged societies, making it difficult to participate. I know a lot of people in South Africa who go to the townships to do projects, but they are usually short-lived because money is required.

You need help from the government and sponsors; you need people to give you money so you can pay your rent and go teach the kids who can’t afford it. Most of the time, it is linked to the fact that you need to find a space to teach that ballet class because you cannot teach ballet on the field; you need that hall with the wooden floor-specific type of floor. Not every community or school in the township has that, so it’s a very complex and complicated conversation, but it’s one that many of us black people who do go into the ballet world can relate to.

Muzi: What lessons have proven to be the most beneficial in your dance training, and how are you putting them into practice?

Thoriso: Ballet is a very complicated art form. The most important aspect is the constant pursuit of one’s best version of themselves, which is taught through aesthetics, body type. Is your body forming the most beautiful, elegant classical lines? Are you in proper shape and form for the art form? Are you living up to your title and name, the ethereal being of a ballet dancer? That has so many things and avenues in trying to become that kind of person, and I think I took that into my personal life out of the stage in just emulating a very graceful persona and just being very regal and having a very classy persona (so to speak) because I learned through ballet and my training.

Thoriso: Can I answer categorically, and this isn’t just about dancers? It’s about the entire world. The dance industry, like soccer, rugby, or orchestra, the world respects excellence. People will accept you if you are good at what you do. People will notice and identify with a mediocre dancer, black or white. We have a tendency to look for excuses, categorize things, and try to figure things out. You must first determine your body, technique, goal, motivation, and what you want the world to see, and then project that to the world. Own your talent, your gift, and allow others to see only that. When I realized and learned this, I was able to project that energy in the brightest way possible, and it was the thing that opened the doors for me. Understanding that fundamental concept has led me to where I am and where I have been- the world responds to excellence.

Muzi: What are your current and future plans? Where do you see the ballet profession in the future?

Thoriso: I am currently preparing for the debut of a new show called Bolero. Unanswered Questions, a piece choreographed by my artistic director, deals with gender identity, heteronormative society, and the zeitgeist of what is happening right now in the world about people and pronouns (them, they, us, etc.), so he’s going into that whole conversation, which is quite interesting. Right now, I’m also dancing this extensive repertoire. I have a Sleeping Beauty production coming up, as well as a Nutcracker production, so I’m still in our company’s repertoire.

On a personal level, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be a stage ballet dancer. I’m using the universe and my talents, I don’t know if you know, but I have a YouTube channel and I do a lot of moderation for ballet galas and premiers and I interview a lot of artistic directors and ballet icons so I am pushing that and it is really taking off here in Europe and a lot of people like me for that and I want to expand it into beauty pageants and becoming an international presenter and also turning myself into a business and not just being looked as a ballet dancer. My future is a big question mark, but it will be a great one. In terms of Thoriso Mogongwa, the future will see me being celebrated and recognized for all of my hard work.

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WE NEVER DIE, WE MULTIPLY PUMA X COTTON FEST DROP NEXT WEEK

PUMA with the Cotton Fest team today announces the launch of the new PUMA x Cotton Fest F.C. collection set to drop next Thursday, 22 September.

Designed in collaboration with fashion savvy, rap artist Riky Rick and inspired by the sport aspect of the festival’s “University of Cotton Fest” collegiate theme, the collection’s DNA is rooted in 90’s football jerseys that have become iconic and revered fashion statement pieces.

The collection includes a T7 tracksuit top, soccer shorts,football top,and soccer balls designed by the late Riky Rick himself.
 “We are very privileged to be able to bring what turned out to be Riky’s final collection to the market. As with everything Riky did, he was hands on with this collection and ,” said Hayden Manuel, PUMA South Africa Sportstyle Marketing Manager.

As part of the launch, PUMA has committed to a R100 000 bursary for final year AFDA students to cover shortfalls on their fees and assist them to graduate.”The arts were close to Riky’s heart and he was a former AFDA student, so we and Riky’s family agreed that supporting the students would be an appropriate way to honour his legacy,” said Manuel.

The capsule collection is supported by an exciting marketing campaign featuring Riky’s wife Bianca, kids  Maik and Jordan, his brothers Themba, Toby and Sheikani, alongside the rest of the Cotton Fest fam.

“Building on Riky’s legacy to creating a platform for young creatives, our family fully endorse the campaign, especially with regards to the bursary and giving back to students. We are also excited about the range coming to life finally, and ready to go to market” stated Bianca Naidoo.

The PUMA Cotton Fest F.C. collection will be available at most PUMA.com outlets from next week.This includes the following stores:
Gauteng: Menlyn, Braamfontein Select, Eastgate, Fourways, Mall of Africa, Sandton
Western Cape: Cape Town Select, Sportscene Canal Walk, Promenade, Waterfront, Vaal Mall
Kwazulu Natal: Gateway, Westville Pavillion
North West: Rustenberg COLLECTION
 

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SNAP UP AN EXCLUSIVE COOKBOOK AND SEE SIBA MTONGANA COOKING UP A STORM AT DSTV DELICIOUS INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND MUSIC FESTIVAL

Get ready for a globe-trotting explosion of sounds, street food and high fashion while fighting hunger by donating to Chefs with Compassion!

 The DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival returns to Joburg’s Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in 2022. Taste of Gauteng is gearing up for a festive weekend of good times, great music, spectacular food, cutting-edge fashion and a hearty helping of ubuntu. Take home an exclusive recipe book and contribute to the fight against hunger. After a two-year absence all the stallholders on the Delicious Food Mile are eager to pull out all the stops. From Mozambican prawns to local flavours of shisanyama, kotas and mogudu, from gourmet burgers to Italian wood-fired pizzas, Korean dumplings to Japanese ramen and poke bowls.

Celebrity chef and Siba’s Table presenter Siba Mtongana will be cooking up a storm in the Ambassador Lounge. DStv Delicious Festival: Our Story & Recipes is available to pre-order at www.thatfoodguyshop.co.za. Try your hand at Lorna Maseko’s Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Spinach, Tomato, Chilli and Biltong Jam.

For the first time in the history of the DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival, tickets for Saturday have sold out within six weeks of going on sale – signalling South Africans’ voracious appetite for fine food and music after the festival’s Covid-enforced two-year absence.

Times are tough for many people in Joburg, and festival-goers have the opportunity to give something back and help to fight hunger thanks to the festival’s partnership with NGO Chefs with Compassion Since its inception as a response to the first lockdown in 2020, which left many people out of work and vulnerable, Chefs with Compassion has served more than 3.3-million meal

through its network of more than 30 community kitchens, by rescuing 1.5-million kilograms of food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

In the spirit of ubuntu, the DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival and its partners hope to raise money to help Chefs with Compassion continue feeding those who have fallen on hard times

Visit www.deliciousfestival.com for more details about the festival.  A limited amount of Delicious Picnic Lawn tickets are available on Howler at R890-00 for Sunday, 25th September.  To find out where to purchase DStv Delicious Festival: Our Story & Recipes (R390 incl. VAT), visit www.thatfoodguyshop.co.za or email publishing@thatfoodguy.co.za.

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Facebook – DeliciousFestivalSA

Twitter – @DeliciousFestSA

Instagram – @dstvdeliciousfestival

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style crush

Lindiwe Suttle -Performing artist, Songwriter and Style Icon

Lindiwe Suttle is the daughter of Felicia Mabuza – Suttle, a businesswoman and talk show host. She is a multi-talented person, which is admirable. Suttle is well-known as an artist who understands how to combine the greatness of fashion and the power of music, attracting a wider audience than usual.

She has styled international celebrities such as Beyonce Knowles, Ciara, and Cynthia Nixon, to name a few. Lindiwe Suttle is a true fashionista who isn’t afraid to try new things and experiment. Her effortless style and timeless beauty have earned her the title of our latest fashion obsession. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite looks from her.



Instagram: @lindiwesuttle