President Cyril Ramaphosa

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9min1100

So someone took a shot of Oprah’s trademark spirited salvo of gift-giving to her audience and made a crass meme ridiculing artists, creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs who find themselves in precarious positions because of the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s no joke, kuya nyiwa and kusazo nyiwa for a coupla months.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 209,000 people have been infected by the Coronavirus and just below 10,000 people have died. These numbers are expected to rise, with countries such as the US and South Africa still in the early stages of this pandemic. Mzansi President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced a National state of Disaster, banning all large gatherings.

Oprah Winfrey meme
Oprah Winfrey meme

It has affected global finances, the sport industry and has forced politicians to unify. But the art and entertainment industry, which more often than not isn’t taken serious, has also taken a heavy blow that has left its contributors stressed about where the next pay cheque will come from.

“This is pretty much 80% of my income so it’s definitely been a major crisis to deal with,” says Akio, DJ and Creative Director at Kool Out. “I’ve had about 15 bookings cancelled for the 3 weeks next month and that includes 2 countries outside South Africa. Beyond that, everything has been considered “put on hold” since we don’t really know what’s going to happen. If it reaches into June, then I have to cancel my US tour and possibly my Europe tour in August.”

The DJ recently got back to South African after a series of gigs in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. “Getting back in was pretty smooth, but I was worried. I think the strictest measures only begin today [Wednesday]. Also, the country I was in isn’t high risk and only confirmed their first case on Monday.”

Actress Nyeleti Ndubane, whose show Alice In Wonderland at the Pieter Torien Theatre in Montecasino has been cancelled with only a week left in the production, admits she is panic mode. “What scares me the most is the fact that this current state of uncertainty that is affecting all areas of our lives is something we just have to live with ‘until further notice’. I’m a performer. This Corona situation is making it impossible for me to do what I love- and the worst part is that this will be my reality- until further notice…”

For Melanie Ramjee, a PR specialist at Tutone Communications the pandemic has forced her clients to postpone big events such as the Boys II Men South African tour as well as the Scorpion King Live concert which were both meant to take place next month.  “…business wise [I’m] beyond panic. There’s obviously no money coming in, my husband is also in entertainment and we both don’t have business insurance, so ja they’ll be overheads this month where we probably won’t make ends meet,” she says.

“I think people are not making light of it in the industry, maybe outside of the [art/entertainment] industry people don’t take it as serious. I’m in a few WhatsApp groups with publicists and another one with music industry females and everybody is super panicked record labels…all gigs have been cancelled- that means artists and DJs are not making any income. I think the ramifications are a lot longer than we think they are, I think even when we get on our feet and things have calmed down, because I just feel we’re on the first wave. I think when that does happen, people will be paying bills that they probably could not have paid for three months…umm, I think as much as South Africans do wanna have fun and we joke about stuff and everything is a laugh,  this is serious.”

For a patron, if a gig is cancelled or postponed there’s always an option of a refund. But event organisers are left in tatters if they’ve already paid deposits to artists set to perform, in addition to the money invested in marketing and promoting a gig.

“I think it’s different for different cases,” says Ramjee. “I can only talk for my shows. For Boys II Men, they won’t return the money because they were paid 50% upfront, we just postponed the event. I think a lot of events are postponed until further notice, so a lot of the artists will keep the 50%. I don’t know of any instances where artists have been asked back for the money. But definitely from the promoters side, they have to return refunds to the public, they will stand at a loss if the event doesn’t happen in future. The return of funds, depends on your contract, really the truth is, there won’t be this sorta clause in the contract because it’s an act of God per se. People are gonna have to review their contract moving forward how that works. But definitely I don’t know of cases where artists have been asked for the money back, but then again some artists get paid on the day of the show or the day before if they don’t have proper management with contracts.”

Clement Gama04/04/2019
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6min8241

Change is the only constant in life, but then again why change it if it ain’t broke? Each year around this time, radio listeners are forced to adapt to new voices on their airwaves because of the alterations that occur on radio.

In what seemed like an April fool’s day prank on Monday morning, people weren’t hearing the voice of radio jock Justice ‘Just-Ice’ Ramohlola on his show Planet Haaibo, but were welcomed to the month of April by former 5FM presenter Nonala Tose on her brand new show.  Last night Just-Ice came on at 19:30 until 22:00, following Robert Marawa’s sports show.

Radio 2000 confirmed through their social media accounts that the renowned DJ will be on the night-time slot, a clear demotion from the coveted breakfast slot he and his team enjoyed. In a tweet, one Tiisetso Maloma said “Listening to the amazing Just Ice Ramohlola on Radio 2000, on the evening slot. This man is a champ. But management of the station is a joke.”

Listeners are puzzled by the station’s management, for removing a breakfast team that was liked by throngs of listeners from all over South Africa. “Puleng Thulo, station manager should just listen to the people, that’s wise leadership. Just-Ice is needed in the morning, qha!” said Davison Mohlomi Mudzingwa on Facebook.

While Dion Gabi put it poignantly in a Facebook post saying “This guy makes your troubles disappear in the morning bathong.”

The station has been hyping incumbent breakfast show host Nonala on social media, through images, videos and messages in a bid to encourage listeners to tune in, but some of the station’s audience don’t give a rat’s ass. “You guys got it wrong this time. Not taking anything away from the sister, but she’s more of a weekend presenter. 90% music 10% talk,” said Baks on Twitter, replying to a post by the station about Nonala.

Nonala at her new job. Photo by Radio 2000

Responding to Baks, Similo Silwana said “I am in agreement with you. In the end, it’s Nonala that some listeners will criticize instead of management. I listened to Ice last night and wasn’t sure if he was standing in for Bambo (Johnson) or it’s his new slot. Maybe it will crush ego of decision makers to bring back Ice? He’s missed.”

The people have spoken have made their voices heard, will the station leaders heed their calls for change?

It’s things such as these that highlight the paucity of leadership in our country, it’s not just in politics but also in sport, entertainment and media in general. It’s similar to last month when President Cyril Ramaphosa took the train, and saw how commuters struggle on a daily and him coming out saying “heads will roll” because of what he witnessed. My immediate response to that was “What the fuck, sir?” Are you telling me you didn’t have a clue of what was happening on the ground all this time? Most leaders in this country are out of touch and seem beyond reproach.

It’s interesting to see what will happen at Radio 2000 in the coming days and weeks, because it’s clear that people just want Ice in the morning.

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10min2210

NEVER have we seen, at least in recent history, South African females channelling the spirit of the women in 1956 as they did yesterday with the Shutdown marches that took place throughout the country.

A noble initiative organised by ordinary women, that charged females in South Africa to shut down the country by staying away from work to march against women abuse that the country has disgustingly and embarrassingly gotten use to.

“…Only to have one of the female march marshals to say ‘Leave her, let’s go comrade’ and for the life of me I couldn’t fathom what she said….”

Whether you were in Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit or even Maseru in Lesotho- all women were invited to join this historic and important occasion. The marches were delivering 24 demands to the government, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.

#Total Shutdown itinerary.

Thousands of women were part of the procession in Pretoria, which Palesa Makua was part of. It had women gather at the old Putco depot, where they walked to the Union Buildings to leave their demands at the President’s office. Makua caught up with the march in town. “The atmosphere was so intense…heavy…somewhat triggering. Not merely the physical presence but also the virtual world made sure that we knew we were not the only one,” says Makua.

“I also imagined how the older generation eyabo Mama Lilian Ngoyi and her likes felt when they marched. Even though it was for a different cause but still, the fact that women stood together side by side was absolutely moving and heartfelt.”

There was adequate police presence that helped regulate traffic. But at the arrival to the Union Buildings, a scuffle broke out between police and women protesters. Protesters refused to hand over a memorandum to Minister Naledi Pandor on behalf of the government and demanded President Cyril Ramaphosa personally receive their demands.

Makua, who is also the founder of the Her Skin Speaks exhibitions, was disheartened by the inhumane act or lack of sympathy, by some of the women marching. En route to the Union Buildings, the marching females came across a woman from Venda who was robbed. “She was promised a job interview, only for it to be a scam. She had nothing but her qualifications with her.”

The traumatised lady was crying hysterically as Makua and her friend walked past her, then approached to find out what happened. “Only to have one of the female march marshals to say ‘Leave her, let’s go comrades’ and for the life of me I couldn’t fathom what she said. I mean, we are claiming to march for women who are victims and here is one, a practical example and we’re told ‘move along comrades’ I was so livid and sad. My friend gave her money to get home and we caught up with the march.” Makua says.

“To me, that showed just how much middle class these marches have become. Ignoring the primary women who are actual victims. Even the language we use to communicate our cries, does not accommodate women and children in the townships who had no idea what actually happened today.” Among those in attendance in Pretoria, was the mother of Thembisele Yende who was murdered at Eskom in 2017.

There were schisms days prior to the march between #Totalshutdown organisers and the ANC Women’s League Young desk. The Total Shut Down march organisers made it a prerequisite for women to be draped in black with a touch of red, to which if not heeded, you wouldn’t be able to be part of the march. The ANC women’s league young desk had apparently also planned a march for August first. The ruling party then proposed the idea to march together with the momentum-gaining Total shutdown, but instead they would wear ANC doeks with all black attire. That didn’t go well with the Shutdown group, as they are an apolitical movement that had strict rules against party regalia. Also, the Total Shutdown made it clear that no men should be part of this march, which the ANCWL also disagreed with.

The ANCWL march took place in Joburg, where ladies and some gents met at Constitutional Hill and marched to the Luthuli House in the CBD and also where a moment of silence was observed.

It’s rather disappointingly childish that one, who endorses the same policies you do, is barred from marching together with you merely because they are wearing different colours. Imagine Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters, arguing about team colours on a march to the Premier Soccer League offices about how the league isn’t commemorating victims of the Ellis Park massacre.

A woman, who said she was ANC’s provincial secretary of the Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal, was marching together with the Total Shutdown women in Durban. Speaking to the eNCA’s Dasen Thathiah, she said “Yesterday we spoke to them telling them, that this is a united march against gender based violence. [They] said no political regalia is allowed, but we told them that people are from different wards and different branches, some came with their regalia on.”

The sisters of Zolile Khumalo, the Mangosuthu University Of Technology student who was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend a few months ago, were also present in Durban to support the purposeful march.

Makua says another friend of hers, who was in Joburg was prevented from getting on one of the buses that picked people up from their various stations, to the meeting point. “…Just because she wasn’t dressed in black…what the hell is that?”

Except those little big things, Makua believes the march served its purpose. “I actually hope it did. Although we were marching, there were cases of some of the women we marched with, one car got broken into and another stolen. This to me, means even when we are trying to communicate with the male figure, they are still not interested.”


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