MTN announces shortlisted candidates in prestigious MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards

A few weeks ago MTN announced that nominations were open for the Women In ICT awards and since then hundreds of nominations were received. Members of the adjudication panel have now selected the top three entries in the respective categories.

The awards seek to accelerate women’s participation in the ICT sector by celebrating and rewarding women professionals who have made a significant contribution towards the growth and development of the sector. In doing so, this initiative also aims to enhance the industry’s employer value proposition by attracting and encouraging girl children and young aspirant female professionals to consider a profession in the industry.

MTN is hosting the awards in partnership with Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio as well as ITWeb’s Brainstorm.

The top three shortlisted candidates in each category are as follows.

Leadership Recognition Award: recognises senior female executives in the ICT sector whose proven depth of experience in leading change, influencing business outcomes and leading teams has impacted positively on the organisations they lead. The shortlisted candidates in this category are:

  1. Carol Thomas
  2. Dr Madelise Grobler
  3. Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane

Innovator Recognition Award: recognises women who have introduced new methods, ideas, or products that are contributing in one way or the other to the delivery of a bold, new, digital world. The candidates are:

  1. Caroline Macharia
  2. Lindiwe Matlali
  3. Rene Pearson

SME Recognition Award: recognises wholly-owned, women-run enterprises that are viable businesses making inroads in the ICT sector. This is also extended to MTN employees who run their own enterprises on the side, using ICT to enable their businesses. The candidates are:

  1. Matau Ramapuputla
  2. Nomsa Makhanda
  3. Sivashni Moodley

Community Builder Recognition Award: recognises a woman who has made a considerable difference in her community through ICT, or use of an ICT tool to make a difference in the community. The candidates in this category are:

  1. Baratang Miya
  2. Gomolemo Motlhwai
  3. Martine Schaffer

Lifetime Achiever Recognition Award (Women Pioneer): recognises a woman who has longstanding success in the ICT industry, has demonstrated a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and has continually stayed ahead of the curve. The shortlisted candidates in this category are:

  1. Baratang Miya
  2. Dr HF Swanepoel
  3. Felleng Sekha

Excellence in ICT Journalism Award: this category seeks to recognise a journalist who has contributed immensely to creating a better understanding of the ICT industry through her reporting. The candidates are:

  1. Loni Prinsloo
  2. Paula Gilbert
  3. Simnikiwe Mzekandaba

CEO’s Award: this award recognises an MTN employee who has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and Technology. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Fatima Mayet
  2. Lerato Sebata
  3. Prudence Mokone

In addition to the categories listed above, a significant female ICT professional, whose contribution has helped to bridge the digital divide and facilitate access to telecommunication services, will be announced at the gala awards event later this month.

“We are delighted with the progress we have made in once again celebrating the excellence and distinction of women in the information and communications sector. The selection process was very challenging due to the high caliber of nominations received. As we continue to celebrate Women’s Month, and the strides that women have made in all spheres of life, it is humbling and gratifying that MTN, in partnership with Kagiso Media, also celebrates remarkable women who are making a mark in this technical and competitive industry.” Says Graham de Vries, Executive Corporate Services at MTN SA.

The winners will be announced at a gala event that will be hosted in Johannesburg on 31 August 2017.  Remember to follow the conversation on twitter: #MTNWIICT2017.

Samke Mhlongo

You know I often avoid the Search/Explore function on Instagram because it has a way of making me feel like my life is boring, dull. Heheh I’m sure people with self esteem find it inspiring.. but anyway, I managed to gather enough strength to explore and I came across Samke Mhlongo’s page. At first I was drawn to it because she travels a lot, looks amazing and take gorgeous pics too but as I scrolled through her page, I got to learn that she is super funny, an MBA Graduate, a Wealth Coach, founder and CEO of TNC Wealth Partners.

She also shares helpful information on her page about wealth creation and finances in general. For example, I loved, loved how she explained what unit trusts are, by making it relatable and funny.

So do check our her page on IG, there’s lots to find, but first.. here is Samke on Unit Trusts:

Samke Mhlongo

Dear Samke, What is a unit trust?

A unit trust is an investment option that allows you, to own a little bit of a lot of things. Huh?
Imagine you are hosting a dinner party for 6.
One guest wants a glass red wine (my friend @asandamaku), one guest wants a glass of white wine (my friend @drnandimd), two guests want juice (Don’t have such friends LOL), and 2 guests want a glass of champagne (Me and my fab friend @seth_shezi)

So, if you have a limited budget, it will be difficult to buy full bottles of the required drinks for your dinner party, when you could buy just a glass of many different drinks. Right?

Now, imagine many people had the same desire as you. To have a variety of drinks (diversified portfolio) but didn’t have the money upfront to buy the full bottles (i.e. invest in whole shares)

That’s exactly what unit trusts are. Someone (a fund manager) has put together a mix of drinks (a “mix of shares” is called a Fund, and they are held in a Trust) for people to invest in (buy units) by contributing what they can every month. Each R1 you invest, gets you a fraction (unit) of all the shares included in the fund, held in a trust (hence unit trust)

Why would you want to do this?

Well, investing R1 in 1 share is risky, what if the share price falls? Investing R1 in a unit trust is less risky, because your R1 is split across many shares, thus diversified, thus reducing your risk

See, easy peasy lemon squeezey (now I’m thirsty)

By @justsamkedotcom



Source: Instagram.com/justsamkedotcom

987 Women

One of my favorite features on Power FM must be the #987Woman feature they do every year around Women’s Day. It reminds me of that time Metro FM used to have celebrities hosting radio shows while we waited for them to announce the new line up, in April. Mmmh… come to think of that, do you think that’s why they ended up hiring the celebs as permanent hosts?

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. As I type this, I’m listening to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane interview Advocate Thuli Madonsela. I will admit that I first tuned in to see how they will related to each other given what we’ve heard and read about their “relationship” but it’s sounding civil so far. A little boring if you’re looking for drama (like I shamefully was *facepalm*) I guess that is to be expected because regardless of how they may really feel about each other, they remain professionals. And most importantly, adults!

I am really looking forward to Dr Makhosi Khoza’s Power Breakfast on Women’s Day. Especially because she’s on air right after the Motion of No Confidence, her show is going to be lit!


Any particular show you enjoyed and/or are looking forward to?

Also, what did you think of the Busi & Thuli show?


MTN Women In ICT Awards

The MTN Women In ICT Awards are back for the second year in a row and this year they promise to not just celebrate CHICAs who are making strides in the information and communication technologies sector, but also to showcase the opportunities that exist and attract young aspirant female professionals to consider a profession in the industry.

MTN, in partnership with Kagiso Media and ITWeb’s Brainstorm are inviting nominations from and for eligible female professionals to be considered in the following categories:

  1. Leadership Recognition Award: recognises senior female executives in the ICT sector whose proven depth of experience in leading change, influencing business outcomes and leading teams has impacted positively on the organisations they lead.
  2. Innovator Recognition Award: recognises women who have introduced new methods, ideas, or products that are contributing in one way or the other to the delivery of a bold, new, digital world.
  3. SME Recognition Award: recognises wholly-owned, women-run enterprises that are viable businesses which are making inroads in the ICT sector, and will be extended to internal employees who also run businesses on the side, using ICT to enable their businesses.
  4. Graduate Award (High Schools): recognises a top ICT graduate from a high school who finished top of their class. The award is open to females who graduated in the immediate year preceding the awards ceremony.
  5. Graduate Award (Tertiary): recognises a top ICT graduate from a tertiary institution who finished top of their class. The award is open to females who graduated in the immediate year preceding the awards ceremony.
  6. Community Builder Recognition Award: recognises a woman who has made a considerable difference in her community through ICT, or use of an ICT tool to make a difference in the community.
  7. Lifetime Achiever Recognition Award (Women Pioneer): recognises a woman who has longstanding success in the ICT industry, has demonstrated a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and has continually stayed ahead of the curve.
  8. Excellence in ICT Journalism Award: this category seeks to recognise a journalist who has contributed immensely to creating a better understanding of the ICT industry through her reporting.
  9. CEO’s Award: this award recognises an MTN employee that has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and Technology.
  10. Ministerial Recognition Award: this category gives the minister the opportunity to use their discretion to nominate a female ICT professional whose contribution has helped to bridge the digital divide and facilitate access to telecommunication services.

This year, the Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards has introduced a new category known as: The Public Choice Award. This category gives members of the public the opportunity to nominate an outstanding female professional in the ICT sector using an SMS platform. The dedicated SMS number will be unveiled in due course.

MTN Women In ICT Awards
Mapula Bodibe, MTN SA & Mark Harris, Kagiso Media

Mapula Bodibe, Executive for the Consumer Business Unit at MTN SA, says that despite the strides being made by women professionals in ICT, a lot still needs to be done to increase the levels of women participation in the sector.

“We are here today to launch the second edition of Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards. We dedicate this initiative to the millions of women out there who have, over the years, been the symbols of resilience, fortitude, hope and sustenance.

These women represent our mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues. It is these women that demonstrated an inner strength that is remarkable in the face of various types of adversity. Like a phoenix, they have, during times of great difficulty, managed to rise from the ashes and served as a source of inspiration to those around them.

The representation of and by women in the ICT is still negligible. Regardless of how bleak the statistics are, there are still pockets of remarkable women leaders in the ICT sector. I wish to appeal to these professionals to use their influence and positions to pave the way for other female professionals to thrive and prosper.

We need to dispose of the exclusivist: “I am the first woman to…” mindset. We have to re-awaken the nurturing spirit that women are renowned for – to mentor and coach female professionals who are still rising up the ranks,” says Bodibe.

Nominations for entries can be submitted at https://www.mtn.co.za/womeninict

If you know a phenomenal woman in the ICT sector, please log on to https://www.mtn.co.za/womeninict to nominate. The closing date is 04 August 2017. The awards will be held on 31 August 2017, in Johannesburg.

You can also follow the conversation on social media via the #MTNWIICT2017

Zoe Msutwana

It is true when they say dynamite comes in small packages. I first met the beautiful, young Zoe Msutwana while I was studying at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She was doing Information Technology at the time. Fast forward to 2017, Zoe is a Senior PR Account Director at VIVIDLUXURY, Founding Editor and CEO at GuideToCeleb.com. Oh, did I mention that she is also a Style Maverick and Pop Culture Expert, you must check her instagram account.

We had a chat to her about her career moves and what keeps her going.

Zoe Msutwana

Theo Tshanga: Please tell us about your childhood, what type of a child were you growing up?

Zoe Msutwana: I was a very fragile and spoilt child, thanks to my grandparents. I was born in a small town in the Eastern Cape called Centane, where I spent the first 8 years of my life before moving to Port Elizabeth, where my mom worked as a nursing sister.  Adjusting from a village to a big city was a huge challenge. I didn’t really struggle with making friends but I think I faced some challenges when it came to adjusting to the standard of education. For the first time in my life, I was exposed to quality education and I had to push myself to keep up to being taught in English for example and I guess that helped me become the super diligent student I was throughout my schooling life.

Theo: I understand that after matric, you went and studied IT. What made you choose IT?

Zoe: After completing my matric, I went on to study Information Technology, majoring in Software Development at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. When I was in Grade 11, I was 14 and just coming into my own, I caught the Fashion & Beauty bug. The following year, I sketched and designed my matric dance dress. Naturally, after matric, I knew I wanted to do something in either sector. My dad, who is a Professor and a huge advocate for education shut me down because I needed to study “something substantial”. IT was the next best thing.

Theo: Did you end up enjoying IT? 

Zoe: I’d be lying if I said IT was something I enjoyed. I hated everything about it. Something you need to know about me is that I don’t work hard, I work smart, and I felt like IT required me to work hard. I found programming to be particularly challenging, as it requires effort and passion, because the best programmers become great because of the amount of time they spend exploring code. I spent most of my time at the computer labs creating moodboards of Rihanna’s style, stalking Paris Hilton’s paparazzi sightings.

Theo: And That was the reason you changed from IT to PR?

Zoe: The biggest takeout from me studying IT was that it exposed me to the idea of passion and how much I didn’t want to ever find myself doing something I didn’t love. I’ve always wanted to be in the fashion and beauty space, but as I grew older, I learned that I could still play a part in the industry, without really making clothes or becoming a make-up artist. I decided to pursue a career in PR by enrolling for a Public Relations Management qualification at UNISA, while doing an Internship at a JHB-based PR agency. PR has proven to be the perfect tool to exercise my knowledge and skills in a space I love so much, enabling me to work with some of the biggest names in SA fashion and with beauty giants such as Revlon and Rimmel London.

Theo: Tell us what you love the most about your PR career?

Zoe: I absolutely love that it has exposed me to some of the brands I love the most. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on and represent brands that are authentically “Zoe” and fit my personality, which makes it a lot easier to be excellent in your job. I also love the fact that the PR industry is constantly evolving, hugely influenced by the media trends we see today. The way I think as a PR professional today is very different to how I used to approach PR solutions five years ago. Back then, a strategy that would result in a DPS for a brand was a win, nowadays, clients value digital presence and engagement more, meaning my creativity has be in line with what brands value now and in the next few years.

Theo: What brands did you oversee/managed thus far?

Zoe: In 2011, I joined At Vogue Communications as an Intern, working on the NBCUniversal account, which houses brands such as E! Entertainment, The Style Network, KidsCo, Universal and Studio Universal on the DStv platform. I was later promoted to PR Assistant then Account Manager on the same brands, overseeing Press Junkets for Kim Kardashian, George Kotsiopolis and local launches for Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Fashion Police, Tia & Tamera. The most memorable campaign I did being the Brand Evolution for E! Entertainment in 2012. Sylvester Chauke later poached me to join and head up the PR division of his DNA Brand Architects consultancy in 2013. At DNA, I managed the Brutal Fruit, Vodacom, Rimmel London & SAFW brands, while acting as PR Manager to the Bonang Matheba brand for three years.

Zoe Msutwana

Theo: In January 2016, you took a leap of faith and decided to go into business by starting a company called Mode Brand Studio, talk us through that?

Zoe: Starting Mode Brand Studio took me on one of the wildest rides in this journey called life. I had always imagined that at age 30, I would be this high-flying exec, moving into my husband’s Bryanston mansion. At 28. I was single with no hope of ever getting married lol. I started imagining a life where, perhaps, I would be living in that Bryanston on my own. I knew that continuing the way things were would not make it possible for me to achieve that goal. Together with a friend, we decided to start our own PR agency, which would specialize in strategic concepts that connect brands to the young and cool market. In our first year, we were fortunate enough to work with the likes of Boity Thulo, Sarah Langa-Heaton, Ayanda Thabethe, Nape Phasha, Luthando “Lootlove” Shosha, Candi & Co, while acting as the first local PR agency for Lucozade SA.

Theo: What challenges have  you experienced as a young, black female entrepreneur in the industry?

Zoe: I could write about the challenges we faced in our first year. What kept me going was the fact that the opportunities were there. So many reputable brands gave us a chance as a young agency and I will forever be grateful for that. I got to learn very quickly that the system favours those with solid backgrounds, not so much the girl with a dream and a family that can’t necessarily give her that start-up/working capital. What also proved to be a huge challenge were the clients that would not honour their own payment terms and threaten to fire you when you chase up on outstanding invoices.

Theo: Hectic. Talk us through your exciting moments as an entrepreneur?

Zoe: There were so many! That first client sign off means so much more, knowing it was all “you”, no boss, just you and your beautiful mind. My confidence grew tremendously when it comes to my capabilities as a leader. People were saying yes and wanting to work with us because of our credentials as PR professionals. That was very exciting for me, very re-affirming too. Becoming an entrepreneur was the best thing I could have done for my personal growth. It forced me to become responsible with money, to be responsible for the work I was putting out there. I got to know myself a lot better, and it highlighted some of my hidden strengths. Being an entrepreneur requires bravery, that bravery made it easy for me to tap into my other interests and pursue them alongside Mode. The journey also taught me that being the “Independent woman” is overrated and dangerous. I learnt that it is ok to seek out help, and this has brought me closer to God, to my parents, and the rest of my family.

Theo: I believe you have recently received an offer you couldn’t resist. You are now a Director in Cape Town at VIVIDLUXURY, Africa’s premier luxury brand agency, tell us about that?

Zoe: I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great brands, but I had never managed a luxury brand before. This was a skill I felt I needed to acquire, particularly because of the Guide To Celebrity brand I am building and the direction I wanted to ultimately take moving forward. Oprah once said, “God can dream a bigger dream for me, for you, than you could ever dream for yourself.” I believe this is what happened in my instance. Joining VIVIDLUXURY and moving to Cape Town has been both a blessing and an adventure of a lifetime. However, God imparted the spirit of entrepreneurship in me, and it has done nothing but evolve me into a better woman, daughter, sister, friend and last but certainly not least, the best employee any employer could ever ask for. I view myself as a multifaceted businesswoman, with interests in PR, Publishing, Fashion & Beauty. For now, my focus is PR and Publishing.

Theo: You are also the Founding Editor and CEO for Guide To Celebrity, what is this about?

Zoe: Working in the PR industry has exposed me to a lot of behind-the-scenes action when it comes to this world, from how much brands would pay celebrities for endorsements, appearances, shoots, TVCs, bookings etc. Managing some of the biggest names in SA Entertainment taught me about the effort and investment it takes for celebrities to appeal to brands. I started Guide To Celebrity because I identified a gap in the market, no one in SA was reporting about celebrities and brands the way I do. Guide To Celebrity is positioned as an all access pass to the “Business of Celebrity”, whose mandate is to inform, educate and highlight the behind-the-scenes action of celebrity brand alignments, from the most iconic and lucrative endorsements, to the most forgettable and not so successful partnerships of our time. So if you’re a fan of pop culture just like myself and have a keen interest in understanding Celebrity Branding, PR and Marketing Campaigns, then www.guidetoceleb.com is just for you.

zoe Msutwana

Theo: Where do you want to take Guide to Celebrity?

Zoe: GTC has recently celebrated a few milestones, including turning 1 in June. I’ve also enlisted some of the most brilliant women and even bigger fans of pop culture to join the team. That is an indication of growth, because it means the platform is bigger than me. Last week, we also celebrated the reveal of the site rebrand, which I’m really excited about. I’m also looking into line extensions that include Books, Video Content and a YouTube channel for the Guide To Celebrity brand.

Theo: Anyone who knows you or follows you on social media knows that you are a POP CULTURE expert, what drew you to pop culture?

Zoe: I’ve always had a keen interest in the world of celebrity, not so much their personal lives, but how much money they were making and how they were making it. A lot of people don’t seem to understand why I love the Kardashian family so much, they know how to make money, it’s that simple. It doesn’t hurt that they are drop-dead-gorgeous and they continue to be about family, love and their wallets.

Theo: You are truly an epitome of beauty and brains. Let’s talk about your style, who is your style inspiration?

Zoe: Right now, it would have to be Zendaya Coleman. I love that her style is very chic, simple and effortless. I never want to come across as trying too hard.

Theo: Can you advise us on the items that women should invest in this season?

Zoe: Since we’re still in winter, it would have to be a killer pair of thigh high boots, a statement coat and I’m loving designer stockings, which I pair with skirts and dresses.

Theo: If you had an opportunity to start your career journey over again, what would you do differently?

Zoe: Hmmm…maybe waiting until I had all the necessary resources before going into entrepreneurship on a full time basis. In the same breath, nothing about my career journey has gone “according to plan” and I’ve come to accept that perhaps, things have been going according to God’s plan. All the denials, detours, failures and all the lessons build character. I am the woman I am today because of my journey, and I absolutely love the woman I am today, so I wouldn’t change anything.

Theo: What drives you?

Zoe: One of my favourite quotes is “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be” by Diane Von Fusternburg. The quote represents everything my life is about. Knowing that each step I take is getting me close to the woman of my dreams keeps me going.

Theo: You’ve done a lot in your career, what’s next for you?

Zoe: There is still so much I haven’t done! I think this move into luxury brands is the first move. I also have a few goals I haven’t met yet and so many dreams to fulfill. God is in charge from here onwards; I trust Him with my dreams, so I’ll just be following his lead.

Theo: Thank you for your time Zoe.


By Theo

small voice

I was pregnant when I stopped working at Zara because I thought I had found a nice job in the industry that I have always wanted to be in. The little voice inside me told me not to, especially since I was climbing up the ladder there and thriving. The place was growing on me (funny enough I miss it at times), I don’t know whether it is the people I met along the way or the rush of the busyness or environment or maybe a bit of everything. Something said “don’t leave” but because I was tired and felt stuck and frustrated and wanted to push things my way, I badly wanted to shape and mould my own future looking at the clock thinking “time is not on my side”. I don’t know why I was thinking of that cause I was only 23. We hardly ever listen to our instincts (gut feeling if you may) yet they are our best of friends. 9/10 times when something unpleasant happens or when one makes a bad move, there had been that little voice advising them not to.

I moved to this new job and loved what I did there. Writing articles, brainstorming sessions, interviewing, the works. The fact that it was a Christian online publication was a huge plus for me as I thought it was going to help me grow as a Christian. It was owned by a foreign national, the offices were in Rivonia, and the publication that we were running seemed legit, getting more tickets to attend events, getting more recognition within the Christian circle, etc so I relaxed.

Alarm #1, My fellow colleagues were all young people fresh from varsity looking for experience so none of us had any in this industry and the few that did have experience were interns or had junior positions in their previous workplaces. The only older “experienced” people were the owner (we’ll call him pastor 1) and his second in command (pastor 2). When I heard of the salaries and the fact that nobody was experienced I understood why this company only had young women. When you are fresh from varsity and looking for experience you don’t choose, you dive in whatever is offered to you. You don’t even think of thehttp://chica.co.za/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=sharing&action=request&service=facebook&kr_nonce=c045df8baf&refresh=1&for=publicize&nonce=6f7950dd1a salary and if you do think about it, you don’t really care if it’s next to nothing because you understand you are not experienced and that is exactly what you are looking for. You go all out at your job and are happy. So my conclusion: cheap labour.

Alarm #2:  The person running this publication claimed to be a pastor but the dodgy behaviour I exhibited wasn’t that of a pastor. Owing drivers’ money, dodging them, going as far as pretending to not be in the office, not paying the workers, if not only paying half their salaries and when confronted he got aggressive, not paying Telkom therefore making it difficult for us to do our jobs. I realized all of this within the first week and I knew that it was a dead beat company and knew that I could go back to my old job. I knew it in my heart that they would take me back, not to be cocky but I knew my work, I knew I had tons to offer. I was a hard worker who knew how to do the job effectively plus it had been only a week and I had not even given them notice (which would have given them a chance to scout for a replacement). But my pride would not let me ask for my old job back, now that’s a topic for another day. I soldiered on.

Small Voice

After two months of being there, the office was empty, this online publication was now run by Pastor 1, Pastor 2, some young lady who just wanted a letter from the company so that she could graduate and myself. Needless to say, I ended up unemployed because living in Joburg with a salary of zilch was proving to be difficult. There were lessons I learnt from the experience:

  1. Thoroughly research a company
  2. Involve God in your decision-making
  3. Trust your instincts (perhaps it is God’s calm, still voice)
  4. Have Faith in God and know He wants the best for you even when things are not making sense to you, His ways surpass our level of thinking, we can never truly grasp the way he thinks.

So I went back home, unemployed and pregnant. Those were dark days but my loved ones served as a strong support system and I told myself I had something more important to look forward to – welcoming my precious little gift. My glowing diamond in the dark.

While I was still pregnant I job-hunted like crazy, even after delivering I was job-hunting but it seemed like the universe was conspiring against me. It would only be at a much later stage that I would have this revelation that it wasn’t the universe conspiring against me but rather things working out for my good (Romans 8:28), the Bible does not say that all things will be good but rather all things will work out for my good. Many a times we expect things to be easy, we expect them to make sense but it doesn’t so we frustrate ourselves trying to understand the mind of God because we don’t want to be kept in the dark.

When my daughter was four months I applied for a writing position in a leading South African news station. A week later I applied for an ENG camera operator position at the same station. Six months later I got the Camera Operator post, I was extremely happy, still am. I still wonder why God chose to give me the latter as opposed to the first position I applied for as that is where my passion lies but I have grown and I have crazy faith and know that all is working out for my good and because of that, I am happy and do what I do to the best of my ability.

It has been 11 months now and I have no doubt in my mind that this is only the beginning for me, my dreams are so big that they scare me but I have CRAZY FAITH and I will listen to the calm still voice as it directs me towards my purpose in life.



Guest Writer

This weekend was special in may ways. I got to spend time with some of my CHICAs and whenever I spend time with them, I get reminded of the reason we started this site and as tough as things get, that feeling energizes me to keep going. This weekend South Africa also commemorated Youth Day, and just to confirm, it is definitely Youth Day, and not Sarafina Day as SA TV stations would like us to believe.

On the 40th anniversary of June 16, 1976, Lebo Lukewarm, who is one of South Africa’s hottest young Photographers, started a Portrait Series called #YouFought4Me in remembrance of that tragic day. The results were something special …


… and so when he announced that he was doing the shoot again this year, I had to gather my connections and head on over there.
What I didn’t expect though, was that we’d be welcomed by friendly waiters offering us coffee courtesy of Nescafe, make up artists ready to get our faces beat and wait for it… a barber to cut the guys’ hair! It was a proper shoot and I was WOW’ed.

There is something endearing about young people who take their work seriously and the level of professionalism at this shoot, has made me a Lebo Lukewarm fan (that and this gorgeous pic he took of us). 


Knowing that there is meaning behind this portrait series, I felt a little guilty just sharing my photograph without exploring what that meaning is. I then had a brief chat with Lebo to go beyond the beautiful images, and to the WHY of #YouFought4Me. This is what he had to say:

Lebo Lukewarm #YouFought4Me

LeloB: We all know you as a photographer but I see there is “musician” in the mix, did the musician part come before or after photography?

Lebo Lukewarm (LLW): Well I’ve been making music since I was 12yrs old, I’ve just held the music card very close to my chest cause music is for me and I enjoy the fact that I can use it as an outlet to help me destress or express myself further.

LeloB: Ah I see, and where are you with the music at the moment, where can we hear it? 

LLW: I’m actually about to release an EP later this year on all platforms, my earlier work is on SoundCloud.com/camerashyguys

LeloB: I will certainly give it a listen. Now back to the subject of our discussion, I read online that you studied Photography at VEGA, how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

LLW: Haha! Firstly, I didn’t study photography at all, I did Creative Brand Communications at Vega. Photography was a bug that bit when I was still relatively young. Teaching myself, I subscribed to a photographer’s magazine called PIX and they would have some really cool tutorials. This was all before YouTube was on mobile devices as freely as it is now.

LeloB: Meaning it would be even easier now for someone to learn on their own. And what  do you love the most about Photography?

LLW: Knowing that at that very moment and from that very perspective, I am the only person in the world who captured that image.

LeloB: What inspired #Youfought4me, and what is the purpose? 

LLW: The #YouFought4Me Portrait Series was created off the back of watching way too many people tell our narrative for us as black people. I started this to try and inspire the youth to tell their own narrative and document it!

LeloB: Yes to that, plus we have the means to do that now! I couldn’t make last year, so I was impressed by how well organised this was. How was this year’s “event” different to the first one? 

LLW: Last year we were focused on the 40 years since the class of 1976′ and people came in for their portraits and they told us what it meant to be a youth in South Africa today.
This year we asked everyone to bring the person or people that they feel fight for them on a daily basis. It was about the connections that we have made through the years: families and friends.


LeloB: Aaah I liked that. It was great seeing people bring their parents and kids. Well done. You also seem to have put together a great team to work with you, tell us a bit about them?

LLW: The team was phenomenal, surprisingly this was all the first time we were working together. I think the pre production part of this project is what makes it run smoothly. I am just happy that everyone gelled so well together and that the team was focused, and everyone pulled their weight, for the entire day to run so seamlessly.

LeloB: They really did. Where do you hope to take this campaign?
LLW: I want this campaign to spread across the country and it is something we are already looking into, due to the public interest from the JHB one. I want the whole country to come together on this day and celebrate being South African.

LeloB: Except you can’t be everywhere to take everyone’s portrait hehehe. And on that note, a question that I think a lot of budding photographers will want answered – What camera and lens did you use for these incredible shots?

LLW: Haha! I do get that a lot! I used both the Canon 5D mark iii and iv with a 24-105mm 4.0f L-series ii lens

LeloB: All greek to me, but thank you. I teased you about New York but on a serious note, you are doing a lot of international work currently, including some work with Travel Noire. What can you reveal about your plans for the next year or so? 

LLW: Well, there are few things bubbling under that seem to all have a 2018 release date on them, like most goals it’s all about working towards them.. I can’t really say much about them as things sit, but trust me it will all be revealed.

LeloB: We wait in anticipation. Lebo what advice would you give to someone who’s in matric right now and considering Photography as a career? 

LLW: You’ll never last if the reason you’re doing it is cause “it’s cool”. You need to understand that it is not a cheap profession to get into and there are a lot of people who are already doing it. So what you need to focus on is making sure you practice EVERYDAY and develop your style so that when you are ready, you stand out from everyone. If you’re in it for the money, don’t do it.

LeloB: That is sound advice, thank you. Any last thoughts? 

LLW: I’m just excited about the amount of young people that show up to the series. Granted you walk away with a new profile picture, but your involvement reaches an audience that might have never thought it possible to take charge of their story and write it the way they want to be remembered… If this series is all I’m remembered for, I’m not mad at that.

LeloB: I have a feeling it will be one of many awesome things we’ll remember you for. Thanks for your time Lebo. 

You can find all of Lebo’s work on via the #YouFoughtMe #NescafeGoldConnections hashtags and his social media pages @Lebolukewarm

Website: www.lebolukewarm.com




By LeloB

For the longest time, I’ve been sitting at my work desk, contemplating how to quit my job without actually quitting my job. A tad dramatic, I know, but what does one do when they’re faced with the desire to take a considerable amount of time off from work to focus on other equally important aspects of life, without suffering the dire consequences of unemployment? I need to go on maternity leave. The problem with that (not so) bright idea is that a baby is far from what I need right now, regardless of how dreamy “matching mother and daughter outfits” and “mommy and baby spa days” may seem.

I’ll admit that my daydreaming tendencies tend to get the better of me, and this has been a long-standing struggle (insert all my primary school report card educator’s comments), but I think I’m on to something solid here. The fact that somebody other than me has written a book, though purely fictional, about my desire to go on ME-ternity leave can only mean I’m no less sane than I was yesterday.


The idea that Meghann Foye outlines in her novel, METERNITY, speaks to the right for women who have no intention of raising children at that point in their lives to be allowed the same amount of time off from work as their maternal counterparts to raise:

  1. themselves (inner growth/ finding one’s true life purpose)
  2. a business
  3. a relationship and everything in between.

The character in Foye’s novel, Liz Buckley, is faced with an entertaining dilemma wherein she is a driven career woman in the fast-paced print media industry but is visibly exhausted from “picking up the slack of her colleagues who have kids.” Those who for instance spend fewer hours at work because they have occasional extra mural activities to attend with their beloved offspring. Extra mural activities which happen to take place during work hours.

Amid her exhausting work hours and constant feelings of contempt towards her colleagues who are parents, Liz happens to experience a case of “stress related nausea” which her colleagues quickly mistake for morning sickness and (as if the universe has finally heard her) just like that, Liz finally has a ticket to what Meghann Foye describes as “the mommy track”.  To be fair, Liz doesn’t claim the pregnancy- her colleagues do, she merely refrains from correcting their mistake. A little extreme for me to ever be able to execute without being annoyed by the idea of having to keep up with this lie, but Liz manages to milk this conception for every flexible hour and day off it’s worth. She even goes as far as wearing a faux baby bump and spending her extra time living, essentially, her best life. But what would a best-selling novel be without a little complication? Or a lot of complication in this case where Liz finds herself falling in love and having to decide whether to continue with her pregnancy façade or pursue the love of her life.

Naturally, Meghann Foye has received a significant amount of backlash from real life moms who feel her reduction of maternity leave to somewhat of a sabbatical is nothing short of obtuse. It’s not difficult to see how offensive it is to compare three to six months of sleepless nights and “nothing but vomit and poo” as one mother so graphically pointed out to “living it up” and enjoying the finer things in life, however, a lot of the backlash seemed to be condescending in a sense, making me wonder if some of the moms were not overcompensating for the “me time” they so desperately desired while taking care of their new born bundles of joy. Personally, I am still inclined to believe that there is a way to work around the politics surrounding maternity vs meternity which should allow both new moms and their childless colleagues to experience the same benefits without taking any value away from the other.

I’ve asked two incredible women who I know on a personal level and who live on either spectrum of this social debate (a debate which I may have purely created in my head- but am more than happy to humour) to share their thoughts.

ME-Ternity LeaveNolwandle Madlala i
s a loving wife and mother of two, who is also a Junior University Lecturer by profession and has just welcomed her second bundle of joy, Kwandamagugu, to the world. This is what she had to say:

“Believe me I understand why some Moms feel that extended leave should be a privilege. You attend to your newborn 24/7. When they sleep, you prepare for when they wake up. But, think about the joy you feel when you get to sleep in when someone else looks after the baby. Wouldn’t you want to enjoy that even if you didn’t want to or couldn’t get pregnant? No one enjoys waking up early to go spend their entire day making money for someone else. I reckon everyone, male or female, should enjoy at least a few months in a year recharging and resetting so they can go back to work feeling fresher, more creative, and eager to put their minds to work again (after mat leave, every Mom will tell you that their mind is itching to work out something other than the packet of diapers they need to buy).”

ME-Ternity LeaveNyasha Dzumbunu is an equally loving wife who has a full-time career as a Chief Financial Officer and a growing fashion business, House of Perle. Nyasha and her husband have no kids as yet. This is what she had to say:

“I’ve been trying to balance spending quality time with my loved ones, a demanding full-time career in finance and growing my business which needs a lot of tender loving care & attention. Then there’s the much needed me time, which continues to evade me unless I make a concerted effort to get it: time to exercise, recuperate, introspect, read an inspirational book or just watch some mindless junk really. At certain moments, I wish I could literally freeze time, for some guilt-free rest & to catch up on what feels like a never-ending to-do list. I find that I’m having these moments more & more frequently now.  I would love to start having kids in the not-so-distant future, so am I being greedy for wanting me-ternity before I apply for maternity? A girl can dream…”

A special thank you to Nolwandle and Nyasha for indeed humouring me and sharing their thoughts on me-ternity leave.






I am a young professional in South Africa today. I fall under the statistics that cover a small group of people who, through academic achievement, have shown the potential to make a meaningful impact in the country and the world at large. I clearly recall a lecturer addressing us as a room full of students during my first year in university. He said “look to your left, look to your right. One of you will graduate in record time from your degrees”. This, he said to a room full of students who were considered to be the brightest of the brightest in the country at the time. We sat, rather uneasy at his uttering in Beattie hall at UCT as we looked to begin our academic careers.

He was right.

I am one in three.

The tone of a declaration as such presupposes a pride in an achievement of this calibre. But it’s not. It can’t be. I was registered for grade one in the year 2000 among 10 55 397 other bright eyed students. At 7 years old, I was one in 10 55 397. Twelve years later, I sat to write my matriculation exams with 496 090 other students across the country. That amounts to 47% of the students that I had entered my grade one class with.

Attaining a “bachelors pass” meant that I was one of 120 767 who became eligible to study towards a bachelors degree at a registered university out of the 496 090 students who wrote the NSC exams. That is, in essence 24% of the total.

I started grade one as one in 10 55 397

I wrote matric as one in 496 090

I entered university as one in 120 767

I graduated as one in three.

I cannot be proud of a system that has gradually culled my peers by unthinkable proportions and left us, the ‘surviving’ population with the falsified notion of victory. There is no victory in the dwindling away of a generation through a filtering system that does not take into the account the compositional elements of the substance that runs through it.

I was washing my hands in a public bathroom at a nearby mall a few weeks ago when a man walked into the bathroom. It was fairly late in the evening and he was unsure whether someone was in the bathroom. Dressed in the clothes of cleaning staff and with his face fully covered, he apologised for his abrupt entrance and asked me if I had seen someone dressed like him. Feeling slightly uneasy at the image of this man, who was now fully established in the ladies bathroom, I gave a slightly panicked a “No”.  

Then before leaving, he glanced back over and said “I know you”.

Shock horror.

To my surprise, he addressed me by my name and surname.

Rightfully surprised by this encounter, I asked him who he was and how he knew me.

This is when he took his mask off.

I didn’t recognise him until he told me his name. He was a young man that I had attended primary and high school with. Same grade, same classes, same subjects. He went on to express how delighted he was to see me and praised me for looking well after so long.

I often re-envision this encounter and it gives me chills. I was super awkward and I did poorly to hide my surprise at the engagement. But worse off, I did that thing that white people do to black people when they feel guilty about their privilege and try to over compensate (you know that thing). It was horrible (please don’t judge me because the Lord knows my heart and I have repented- so sit down)

But all of that has left me with the sense that we should not and cannot be a generation that celebrates our exceptionalism when it comes to success.

Life for many young professionals in South Africa, myself included, reflects nothing of the real state of society. We are able to work in the Sandton skyscrapers and go to the bushes out of leisure and not circumstance, not solely because we went to good schools, were exposed to good opportunities or didn’t take the falls. It is because our falls were cushioned, our hands were led and somewhere along the journey, we were made to believe that we could. Nothing of this should be exclusive.

It is not enough to be one in three when there is so much space at the table. I want to be one in 10 55 397.

By Nozipho




Are you free on Tuesday night, 30 May 2017?

Keen on having dinner with us?

CHICA would like to invite 10 of our readers to an intimate dinner hosted by Google SA in Johannesburg. The evening is for us to get together, share a good meal while chatting about our lives as women in the workplace.

So if you’d like to join us (and we hope our loyal readers will), send us an email to info@chica.co.za and if you have a CHICA username, be sure to let us know what that is.

Look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Oh, let us know by tomorrow, Friday, 26 May at 15:00.

by LeloB