Ahdora Mbelu-Dania: Passion is great, but purpose is better

Ahdora Mbelu-Dania is currently a Director at Trellis Group (@trellisgroupco). Trellis group is a group of companies in the brand development and experiential marketing space that has worked on several projects across various industries, with brands such as Microsoft, Google, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, Lagos State Government, Nokia, Diageo, Absolut.

Ahdora has a passion for innovation and a belief in the power of creativity to achieve extraordinary business results. She moved to Nigeria in 2008 and found that there were so many young Nigerians in the creative sector that were unable to harness their creativity and build sustainable brand/business structures – Trellis group bridges this gap.

In 2017, Adaora was mentioned in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “11 Africans that are changing the business landscape in Africa.”

She was also nominated in the “Entrepreneur Of The Year” and “Prize For Media Enterprise” Categories of the Future Awards Africa. She has been featured among Nigeria’s Under 40 CEO’s, and Top 30 Under 30.

Ahdora talks about finding passion, purpose, and creativity.


 How did your family background and rich cultural heritage prepare you for the success you experience today?

My family background provided a diversity of thought. My parents are from different racial and cultural backgrounds, and this provided an opportunity for me to understand diversity very early in life.

Hence, I keep a very open mind, and this allows me to forge relationships with people without bias for their backgrounds.

You seem to value creative thinking above traditional practice, has this always worked for you?

I actually value both creative thinking and traditional practice. I think both ideologies have their place in my life’s journey. The important thing is that I know how and when to apply either one to produce positive results.

Many people view creativity as rebellion and going against the norm. But I believe that everyone is born with some level of creativity, and thus there’s nothing to really rebel against.

We just need to harness this creativity to solve problems and produce great work. I try to stay away from the tag of “Creative” vs “Non-creative”.

At the very core, what is your company – Trellis all about?

As the name implies, Trellis is about providing a structure/framework that supports people to get their greatest work out to the world.

Trellis Group was created from the need to solve and bring light to the existing challenges faced in the African creative sector. We are a creative consultancy made up of a group of companies in the sectors of Brand development (Gr8an), Experiential Marketing (A2Creative) Talent Management, and Community Development (Socially Africa).

You definitely fit the idea of a superwoman. Do you face challenges as a creative strategist?

Being superwoman definitely comes with various challenges – even the superheroes in the movies have to fight people, and even their own emotional struggles.  

I have my fair share of challenges, especially as I not only work on the client side but also manage operations.

I am continuously dealing with solving people’s problems, and that sometimes means fully immersing myself in understanding the problem first, before I try to solve.

Being superwoman definitely comes with various challenges - even superheroes in the movies have to fight people - @ahdoraspeaks Click To Tweet

How do you identify ideas that are competent and sustainable and those that are not?

There two things I usually consider when I’m presented with an idea. Does it solve an existing problem And can it progress without the creator? I think the best ideas are the ones that can grow without the person who developed the idea. 

The world has got this entrepreneurship game all wrong. From my perspective, it isn’t about founders, as much as it is about solutions.

It isn’t about who did it, but rather that it was done. This is why as much as I respect investor pitches and all that good stuff, I also know that Purpose will always trump what everyone else thinks.

Be open to collaboration - if you don’t care about who gets the credit, you are more likely to do many amazing things - @ahdoraspeaks Click To Tweet

What do you look out for in ideas/projects that come to your agency for actualization?

With the projects we work on, we choose our clients as much as they choose us. Many times we focus on the people behind the projects.

We have been through the start-up phase where we’ve worked with people and projects that we didn’t necessarily have a heart for because it was profitable. However, we are now at a stage where we measure value very differently.

These days, we choose peace of mind over financial gain. I know it’s a bold statement to make, but it’s factual. I’m not as concerned about quantity, as I am about quality. Hence, a lot of our business is either return business or by referral.

How have you been able to juggle your demanding career and your role as a mother altogether?

I am still learning to juggle it all. I don’t have a perfect response to this question, especially because I really don’t believe strongly in “work-life” balance. At least, I don’t believe that it must be 50/50, and thus I don’t put pressure on myself or feel that I am falling short in my responsibilities.

I take each day at a time, and give as much as I possibly can, per time, with the understanding that to whom much is given, much is expected.

I mean, my family and friends believe that I am an amazing mother, and I know I am. However, I have read mommy blogs that just make me look like child’s play. But I have learned to abandon comparison, and just enjoy my mommy moments – they are mine.

Your dress style is fiercely distinct and bold. How come you decided to stick with the classy suit and tie look?

This wasn’t a conscious decision.  My father was a banker, and he wore a suit every day throughout my childhood.

He’s a very stylish man, and I remember him having socks that match every one of his ties. I think it seeped into my subconscious.

It’s really just comfortable for me. I wear a suit (no tie) or Kaftan for professional outings. However, on my dress down days (which are very often now), you’ll find me in a T-shirt, Jeans, and a Hat.

We know Ahdora as a woman with many hobbies, one of which is horse riding. We’d love to hear all about it?

The Lagos city grind is intense, and horse riding is my way of tuning out from the hustle and bustle to relax my mind. For the few hours that I’m on a horse, I do not check on my phone or emails. It allows me to breathe, and while I’m riding, I often get clarity on some ideas or projects.

It is also a way of spending time with my Husband – we both get on our horses and ride off.

What do you say to young creative people who want to turn their passion into reality?

Passion is great, but the purpose is better. There’s a misconception that Purpose is about our “Why” alone. But the purpose isn’t just about “Why are we doing this”.

It is also about “Who will benefit”. When you understand that this journey is really about the solution, you’ll express yourself more confidently.

Be open to collaboration – if you don’t care about who gets the credit, you are more likely to do many amazing things. Finally, be Patient – Time is a great storyteller.

How have you been able to deal with multiple business ventures including your social projects in Socially Africa?

Socially Africa is a full embodiment of who I am. In fact, I run the for-profit side of my business, as a way to fund Socially Africa.

In the past 2 years, we have accomplished so much with the organization, with initiatives and projects funded primarily by Trellis, with support from friends and family donations.

With all the platforms that I deal with, there is an underlying philosophy that runs through them. So, as much as it sometimes seems as though I am doing too much, it’s actually one big circle with a thread of purpose running through it.

Recently you launched your first single, tell us about your singing career.

I don’t know if I can call it a singing career. I’ve always written poetry, and been a fan of conscious music – I’m intrigued at how the lyrics and intensity of a song can consciously influence people.

On a spiritual side, I’ve always likened myself to Joseph the Dreamer, as we share similar qualities and journeys.

Last year, I started reading closely about David’s transition from Shepherd boy to King, and how he wrote love songs to God through what we now know as the Psalms.

It’s very powerful. I ran away from music for a long time because I was worried about what my clients would think, and how people would perceive Lumina (The Rapper) versus Adaora (The Creative Industrialist).

Self-awareness is a beautiful thing  I’m now high up on Maslows Heirarchy of needs. I’ve hit Self Actualization, so I’m out here swag surfing as a “Rapper-preneur”. (I should copyright this tag).

My purpose is simple, I am a Bright Light, and I shine on other people. Simple. - @ahdoraspeaks Click To Tweet

Purpose is something you emphasize on. How did you discover your purpose?

I have always been interested in helping people become the best versions of themselves, and get their greatest work out to the world. I was always told that people were using me as a stepping stone and then abandoning ship once they were elevated.

At some point, it bothered me and it was very frustrating until I realized that it was a gift. Many people are searching for purpose, without realizing that it’s staring them in the face, but they’re too afraid to accept what it is. They think it’s too glaring, and they want it to be tough to find.

My purpose is simple, I am a Bright Light, and I shine on other people. Simple.

Your hair looks moisturized and beautiful always! What’s the secret?

The secret is…. wait for it… Water! I get this question a lot, but really I think my hair texture is as a result of my mixed heritage. I don’t have any regimen or specific preference for products.

However, I am sure that my hair would grow better if I considered product – I just don’t know how, and yes, I’ve watched YouTube tutorials.


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Incredible Women in Art: Maneo Mohale — I’m hella queer, and proudly so

Maneo Mohale is one of the most brilliant minds we’ve ever met. She is an arts journalist, writer, editor and a major LGBTQI advocate, who has written for prominent publications and has also created her own platform, The Talon.

Maneo uses her extraordinary talent to create a safe space for the LGBTQI community and black women; lending them a voice in order to share their own stories and experiences.

We had the amazing opportunity to pick Maneo’s brain and chat about all the things that move her.


How did you get into the art industry?

The Art industry is extremely broad and feels a little incongruous with what I do with most of my time, (which is write and edit), but I’ve been writing for as long as I remember.

I only entered seriously into the realm of arts journalism at university, when I co-founded an online student journalism platform called The Talon alongside an incredible team and editorial collective.

I was a writer and an editor for the publication, but I really enjoyed editing there.

Soon after, I dipped my toes in all kinds of creative and journalistic writing and then landed my Global Feminism Writing Fellowship with an American feminist organization called Bitch Media, which really skyrocketed by interest in smart and sexy arts journalism.

Since then, I’m really getting a feel for the media landscape, and I’m loving the art that I am exposed to by both editing talented arts writers and trying my pen at responding to the waves made in the South African and broader global arts industries as well.

The media landscape is made richer and more meaningful with our voices in it - @ManeoMohale Click To Tweet

As an advocate for the LGBTQI community, tell us about what you do, including your work with Platform Magazine

I think there’s more than a little danger in forming an identity around advocacy and activism, so I tend to bristle a bit at the solidity of thinking of myself as an ‘advocate’.

I’m hella queer, and proudly so, and because of the spaces and access that I’m fortunate to have at my fingertips through the work I do, I try my best to make space while taking space in the world.

It’s a seemingly simple praxis, but it’s rooted in the radical and innate belief that we hold each other’s lives, liberation, safety, progress, in our hands. As an editor, for Platform and others, that looked like deliberately and consciously looking for and developing the writing of black women, trans writers, queer writers, etc., especially in spaces where there are more barriers to our publications than most.

It’s quiet, gradual work, but that’s the kind of work I love best. The media landscape is made richer and more meaningful with our voices in it, and whatever part I get to play in that is a real source of joy and pride.

Photo by – Kgomotso Neto

Who are your two favourite women artists and why?

I have a real soft spot for jazz and jazz writing, as I was raised listening to, and soaking up aspects of jazz culture since I was tiny.

Lately, I’ve really appreciated how South African jazz has widened to really centralise women and my two favourite artists right now are Thandi Ntuli and Zoë Modiga.

They’re electrifyingly talented, and I adore their approach to their craft so much. They make me want to become a better writer.

I love the art that I am exposed to - @ManeoMohale Click To Tweet

Who do you look to for inspiration?

It may sound really silly, but I’m inspired all of the time, everywhere I look. I’m surrounded by passionate and creative people. They’re my ever-expanding chosen family and just basking in their light is enough to inspire me.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I do! Some of them are still in the oven and developing, especially personal creative projects and publications that are forming on the horizon. But the one I’m most excited about it a queer reading series that I’m launching with some of my favourite people in the world.

It’ll be a space where trans and queer writers can read their work to an audience and share their process while building a supportive and responsive community at the same time.

We have such powerful, thoughtful, and innovative writing produced by trans and queer people here in SA, and I’m excited to lend my hand in creating a space for us to just bask in each other’s brilliance.

Photo by – Kgomotso Neto

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to become a creative artist?

Find your family, and start where you are. Finding, building and nurturing a community of people who are both supportive and critical is how I started on this convoluted journey – they were the first people I trusted to read my work, and created a bedrock for me to test my ideas for projects and pieces.

Also, what inevitably happens is a moment when you all look around the room at each other and say: “We don’t need anyone else to start something gorgeous. We’ve got each other.”

As a Black Queer Feminist, how do you navigate through challenges in the creative industry?

I think one of my main challenges, (asides from the given ones around navigating the triple whammy of racism, sexism and homophobia), is learning how to take up space while standing my ground, especially around some of the principles and values on which I refuse to compromise.

I’m not a particularly confrontational person, and I’m quite a sensitive bean at the best times, so learning how to be firm for myself is definitely an ever-unfolding lesson. When it comes to being fierce for other people, my writers, for example, I can do that in a heartbeat.

It’s instinctual for me to be protective. But when it comes to me, well shucks. But we live and we learn, and I think I’m getting better at it, slowly.


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How to build a profitable creative business

creative live creative business
@ChristineArhu shares six tips she used to grow her creative business after a string of failed businesses Click To Tweet

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the leap to become your own boss and entrepreneur! But wait, what exactly is it you want to do? I’m guilty of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life.

In college, I took liberal arts as I just kept changing my major. After college, I became a mother and therefore stayed home with the kids. This really frustrated me a lot because I was used to working and depending on myself. So I decided to start a jewelry business. That business failed as I wasn’t making any profit and I had no clue how to use social media to my advantage.

So I started a VA company and that didn’t work out either! I then decided to get a real estate license and after failing the exam twice, I gave up (you see the pattern here…). I was still confused as to what I wanted to do in my life. With all the failed businesses I started, I felt like such a failure!

However, I kept asking myself why I couldn’t start and have a successful business. Why do I keep failing at all the businesses I start? What do I need (besides capital) to start and maintain a successful business? Then it hit me, I was basically trying to start businesses that I had zero interest in and I was doing it for the sole purpose of making a profit.

I had no purpose and zero passion. Yes making money is important, but you need to be passionate about the business you are doing. Realizing this, I sat down and really discovered what I was good at. And that was graphic and web design. So I began my journey as a Brand Designer and I haven’t looked back since.

So how do you create a profitable creative business? Let’s dive in….

1. Write your personal mission statement

The reason I say to write your personal mission statement first is that you have to know why you want to be a creative entrepreneur in the first place.

By doing this, it will make it easier for you to narrow down your niche and clearly define your brand. If you haven’t figured out what you want to do, write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

Next, write down what other people ask you for help with or what they say you are good at. Then look at the two lists and see which characteristics coincide and bam you’ve found your business! Download my free personal mission statement worksheet.

You have to know why you want to be a creative entrepreneur in the first place Click To Tweet

2. Find out who your target market or niche is

It’s important to know who you are trying to attract as potential clients. Why? Because being unclear as to what your services are will bring in clients and projects that you’ll hate!

When I was first starting out as social media and business coach, I took projects for the sole purpose of earning an income and ended up hating the projects! After really looking into strengths and weaknesses I was then able to narrow down my niche.

Having a niche helps cut down the guess work in your services. When you are first starting out as a creative business, you will want to offer all kinds of services under the sun! By choosing a niche, you create a clear path as to where and how you want your business to grow.

3. Write your goals

Writing down your goals is like writing down a road map for your business. Honestly, I prefer to write down my business goals rather than creating a business plan because once I finish writing the business plan, I file it and forget about it.

With goals, I can divide them into two major parts; long term, and short term. From there I then write down my yearly, monthly and weekly goals. I constantly refer to my business goals worksheet just so I know I’m keeping track of things and know where I stand in my business.

Don’t make your goals complicated either. Be realistic with your goals and think of them mini business plans. Write down everything from business expenses to your projected income.

I prefer to write down my business goals rather than creating a business plan - @ChristineArhu Click To Tweet

4. Create, create, create

What do I mean by “create”? Create products, services or packages that will earn you an income. That’s the whole point you started your creative business right?!

Some ideas of products are e-books, webinars, email series, and e-courses. These are known as passive income streams for they continuously make you money even while you sleep. Services can include web design, social media management and graphic design, photography and coaching. These services are pretty self-explanatory. Wherever your strong suit lies is what you should focus on to get clients

Packages are a form of services you would offer to your clients like different coaching services with different prices. These are on terms such as monthly, every 3 months, 6 months or intensives/retreats that you could do twice a year.

5. Blog

Blogging is crucial for your creative business because it helps you get clients and create a following to which is very beneficial to your business. Blogging is not easy but if you put the effort and consistency it will pay off.

When I started blogging, I was not consistent at all because first I hadn’t chosen a niche and I had no editorial calendar. After I was able to narrow down my niche, I then was more consistent with blogging. Knowing who you serve helps you create and research content for your blog so as to create a following and attract clients.

It’s crucial to remember to engage your readers by replying back to their comments. It ensures that they are talking to an actual person and not a robot.

6. Social media

Now, this is crucial for your business. However, you don’t have to be on every social media outlet! Choose ones that you think you will find your ideal clients and readers.

For example, if you are a graphic designer then Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook may work best for you since your work is more visual. Being on every social media platform does not mean you’ll get more clients, instead, you’ll get overwhelmed and actually lose clients because you aren’t engaging with them.

Being on every social media platform does not mean you'll get more clients Click To Tweet

One mistake I see business owners do is not reply to comments or engage their followers. When someone comments on your photo or post, comment back. It’s that simple. One rule about posting on social media is 80% either other people’s content, personable pictures, quotes, inspirations etc. and 20% selling your products and services.

You are responsible for your businesses growth and success.

3 things you need to know before turning your creativity into a source of income

shehive accra she leads africa creativity

It was Jeff Goins who said, ”A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. She is someone who sees the world a little differently than others.

A creative is an individual. He is unique, someone who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Some think of creatives as iconoclasts; others see them as rebels. Both are quite apt.

A creative is a thought leader. He influences people not necessarily through personality but through his innate gifts and talents.”

With this quote in mind, here are my three tips to getting started as a young African creative.

1. You are creative

You were born with immeasurable gifts and talents, you influence through your gifts of leadership, communication and a unique way of seeing things. This is the first step; you must believe that you are. It’s not all about throwing paint on canvas or pumping out eBooks. That’s only part of it.

Do you do excel sheets like no one else can? Are your PowerPoint presentations clear and concise, leaving everyone stunned? Can you conjure up delicious meals with meagre ingredients? That, my friend is creative.

Untangle that knot in your head which says that you must ‘forget about your hobbies and concentrate only on getting a good job as an accountant/lawyer/doctor’. Do you know people are out here getting paid to wear different outfits every day? (Some do this while holding down a full-time job, but still… getting paid for that ‘I love to dress up’ hobby!)

YOU.ARE.CREATIVE.

Accept it, embrace it.

2. Your creativity often feels effortless but sometimes, it feels like it takes massive effort

Do you intrinsically and effortlessly know how to arrange flowers? Can you look at a plant and know exactly if it has had too much water or too little?

Let’s also say that you know how to arrange your office in a nice way, people always wander in and hang around, simply because you can decorate on a whim.

You know how to use eye-shadow colours everyone has written off as too bright for girls of colour but you… you know how to use it in the right amounts.

Or you’re a writer. Writing romance novels comes to you easily… but sometimes the words just don’t seem to come. You design nice clothes but some days it feels like you’ve designed it all, seen it all and you sit there looking at your sketchbook, uninspired.

You are a TV producer but you haven’t had a good idea develop in months. Everything is boring boring boring!

Understand that sometimes you are in the groove, and sometimes you’re in a funk. This is normal. You are always creative, but your creativity is affected by so many situations. For example, your attitude, how tired you are, how comfortable or uncomfortable you are in your surroundings.

3. You MUST learn to embrace criticism

We are the generation of, ‘Oh, you made this? Well, it didn’t speak to me, therefore, it’s not good enough.’ We are quick to write someone off if we don’t like their work.

We are also the generation that cannot take any form of criticism because ‘hating’ or ‘hateration.’ ‘She didn’t like my work; she is totally hating.’

Who made you the authority on all things?

When you receive criticism it is important to listen to it, and decide whether it is constructive or destructive.

‘I think what you made was great, and I think you could improve it like this’,  is constructive criticism.

‘This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen!’, is destructive criticism. I know you’ve seen it on popular TV shows, and we love to watch because we love to see other humans humiliated.

Criticism shows you what is working and not working about your creativity. It makes you better. Embrace it. Learn to pick out the good criticism to help you move along. The way you sit and patiently pick out the bad beans from the good ones is how you must treat criticism. With patience, and determination.

Go ahead, get started using your gifts , talents and those quirky things you wrote off as  hobbies. Use them to start a business and propel yourself to heights you never thought you could reach.

Nomthandazo Tsembeni: I was given a gift to pass unto others

nomthandazo tsembeni

Nomthandazo Tsembeni does not call herself a musician or a poet but an artist. She does not classify herself in one basket, her talent allows her to explore each and every artistic bone in her body.

She speaks very passionately of her talent and gift which allows her to be who she wants to be. Nomthandazo doesn’t have any limitations and for her, the sky is not even the limit. She wears so many hats one will start to wonder about their own journey.

SLA contributor,  Lerato recently got an opportunity to speak to this vibrant woman. Nomthandazo shared many gems on being a performer while working a full-time job and gave us a glimpse of her award-winning poetry.


You are a performing artist and an award winning one for that matter, what is your genre of music?

I have been exposed to a lot of genres. Commercial house music is what a lot of people know me for although I love music without any boundaries.

I do afro-pop, afro-jazz and soul music because it connects me to my first love, poetry.

You don’t have your own album as yet. Where have you been featured and how was the experience?

I have been featured on DJ Nova and Tapes song called “Ndihoye”, “Heal Your Heart” by Tapes and “George” which was a remix by Rabs Vhafuwi who is known for “Count Your Blessings”.

Working with different artists has helped learn to appreciate the gift of others and the learning is limitless. It is not about what you want but what needs to be given or done to produce results.

I was given a gift to pass unto others, to heal and mend broken souls. It is God-given, something I had to obey and not because I want to appear in magazines and billboards but it is my calling.

I never compare myself with others. Art is a spirit, you can not create art but can transform from one level to another.

You seem to be an artist of many forms, do you regard yourself as a singer or poet?

I regard myself as an artist, I define myself as God’s best Stanza. I can sing, write music, stories, come up with a script for a play, play drums and I am still learning how to play a guitar.

If one classifies oneself according to one discipline then there are limits to what one can do. Trying to define myself in a specific form will confine me.

I am not an ideal woman but a woman in reality. A woman in reality can have it all and do anything they want to and are comfortable without limits because they define their own beauty and success with no pressure to be perfect.

Tell me about your awards, what were they for?

I have three awards, two online international poetry awards which I received in 2012 and 2013 and one from Moduwane District Arts Festival in 2012.

The first international one from AllPoetry was in 2012 from a poem I wrote for a general category called “The Hardest Part”.

“The hardest part

About having both feet is that

We are unable to jump a certain step in life.

In order to be successful,

You need to work hard.

For you to be wealthy,

You need to have some knowledge about poverty

And for you to be somewhere,

You have to start somewhere…”

It defines the limitations of one’s body parts through defining each part, its function and where it is limited to do certain things.

Another award I won in 2012 —Moduwane District Arts Festival— was with a poem was called “Mmabotle” which speaks of the beauty of a woman. I got the first price.

“Side by side, she would move her hips.

On her head, she put nkgo alokga metsi.

She left me drooling as she licked her back lips.

That woman left me choking on my own saliva.

This chick makes the traffic stand still tsi…”

I was again awarded by AllPoetry in 2013 for a general category for a poem called “Reality shaded in 3D pencil”.

“What if

Our bodies are graves of dead emotions?

What if

We think we are over certain people,

Yet we carry the corpses of their deceased images deep within us?

What if

Our faces are tombstones of pain and unhappiness

And the smile we wear is just a marble stone making the whole womb luxurious?….”

AllPoetry is an online platform where various poets from all over the world submit their poems and the best poem is selected. It gives global poets a stage to get to know one another and to introduce themselves in the industry.

nomthandazo tsembeni
Photo credit: Ntsako Mbhokota @ Carob Magazine

Growing up in a small town of Welkom, do you think you are getting enough exposure?

I grew up in a location called Thabong and yes, I am getting enough exposure. It is not about where you come from but about the work you do and where you see yourself in the future by associating yourself with the relevant people that are in the same field of your expertise.

Coming from a small town must not limit or be in a definition of who you are, it is about exposing yourself to things that will assist you to succeed in life. Yes we have limited access to resources but that is not an excuse to not try. It is about how you present yourself, the love and respect for your art or whatever that you specialize in.

I have had the honor to work with the likes of Jerry Mofokeng, Tina Mnumzana, Tinah Mnumzana, Ntsiki Mazwai and Wilson B Nkosi among others. I have been featured in local newspapers like Express and have been on the finals of Welkom’s Got Talent 2014.

I have performed at the State Theatre in Pretoria and the MACUFE Annual Festival in Bloemfontein and have recently been on the cover of Carob Magazine for their Woman’s month issue. I have also been interviewed on 90.9, Mozolo FM 98.2 and CUT FM 105.8.

I have not limited myself to anything based on where I come from. Instead, I have sought for help and used social media to get access to other things.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

It is so unfortunate that I have so many fellow colleagues that I would like to work with and I have to list only a few so I will only mention four artists.

  • Aus Tebza (Tebogo Sedumedi) who is from Gauteng Province and plays base guitar.
  • Asa who is a Nigerian-French artist who sings pop, jazz and indie pop.
  • Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Maphumulo who is the African God of House Music from KwaZulu Natal.
  • Samthing Soweto (Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba) who is from Soweto and does acappella.

Tell us about Nomthandazo, how does performing and art  make her feel? Who is Nomthandazo when she is performing?

I feel alive when I am performing, I am actually fulfilling my purpose, the reason why I was born. I have been sent to heal, mend, teach and help (deliver) people. I move from one space to the next when I perform because every time I ascend the stage, for me, that is taking a step further as far as my art is concerned.

People come to tell me I helped them to get over whatever they were dealing with. I get a lot of feedback that my performances makes them get a certain feeling and find a certain kind of healing. People confess their problems and quote my work. That also motivates me to keep writing and performing.

I knew I was meant to be a performer from a young age when I could sing lyrics fluently, the pitch, tempo and everything from the age of 4. I never saw myself doing something else than just live art.

When I was doing my matric, I started asking myself if I am doing this for fun or must I take it seriously. I realized that this is not just anything but a gift, I do it effortlessly because it is a gift. I respect each and every person who comes to watch me deliver what I have been called for.

I listen to the spirit and everything that comes to me I do it there and then. My art is spiritual as I too am of the Spirit.

Tell us about your book, God is a Poet. What is that all about?

God is a Poet is an anthology of poems, short stories and quotes. Everything is original and I have written them myself. The book includes poems that I have written from high school and have been edited to meet the maturity of the work that I write now.

The name “God is a Poet” came during one of my performances when I was reciting back in 2013 in Kroonstad at a poetry session hosted by SoulStud (Phindile Mathonsi) who is originally from Mamelodi and an artist in his own right.

The words escaped my lips as I was reciting, magic was created from that moment and I knew that was going to be the name of my book. At that time, the book was ready but I didn’t have a title for it.

Because I am a spiritual person, the title “God is a Poet” made so much sense to me because in the beginning; God was with the word, the word was with Him and He was the word. Everything he did, He used words from the creation of nature to a human being, hence I emphasize that He is a Poet and I am his best Stanza.

When was it published and how long did it take you to write it?

I self published it in 2015 and it took me a long time to get everything together. I can say it took me 3 years to finally say I have a book.

My book is self published, therefore you cannot get it at book shops but from me for now. Anybody looking for any of my two books —the other one is Time is Never On Time and that is an ebook— can go to my website or my Facebook page Lady Black Poet. Anyone can also get me on Instagram or by email.

Apply Today! €20,000 Cointreau Creative Crew Grant

Cointreau Creative Crew

If you’re a creative living in Nigeria, it’s hard to get people to believe in your dreams. From your parents who are still hoping you’ll become a lawyer to customers who are always begging for discounts, the struggle is real.Struggle is real

Cointreau Creative Crew To The Rescue

That’s why we are so excited to share that following the launch of Cointreau’s global philanthropic program (Cointreau Creative Crew) in Nigeria in April 2016, the CCC is now accepting applications for the grant!

The objective of the Cointreau Creative Crew is to promote the development of women’s creative freedom and expression. The program also seeks to support women towards contemplating about their initial dream and extending it into a tangible creative reality. As a finalist in the program you’ll also get mentorship from creatives and entrepreneurs including SLA’s very own cofounder Afua Osei.

The program will provide an entrepreneur with €20,000 as a means of support for their creative project. The grant is also open to men so if you have a co-ed team, that’s cool too. €20,000 is serious money ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Let us type it again in case you missed it the first time – €20,000.

It’s hard to find opportunities that are focused on the creative arts so don’t let this one pass you by.

What Do You Need To Do To Apply?

Step 1: Visit the Cointreau website and learn more about the company and the Cointreau Creative Crew.

Step 2: Ensure that you meet all of the requirements. All applicants must be over the age of 23 and residents of Nigeria.

Step 3: Submit an incredible application. Show your passion for the project and how winning this grant will take you one…or several steps closer to achieving your dream.

#CointreauCreativeCrewNG #WillYouDare #DareDreamCreate