Archive | February, 2019

Africa, we are the protector of the Gods

27 Feb


Most of our history dictates the journeys of men, with limited​​ documentation of the ​female-led​ warriors and heroine stories. The last decade we have seen a positive shift in the female narrative and as we are rightfully claiming our spaces in all aspects of life as we also need to hounor those who came before us. As my three passions in life are women, Africa, and the arts, I was really intrigued by​ this exciting project, “Protector of the Gods”.

“Protector of the Gods” is an afro-futuristic take on three of ancient Egypt’s most sought after queens Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. The story of each queen will be documented in each film respectively. This historical project will be directed by the creator, Kameko Tarnez.


Kameko Tarnez is an American world musician, soul singer, writer, director, and feature film, producer. He has collaborated with many icons such as Michael Jackson, Erykah Badu, Toni Braxton, Grace Jones, Rita Marley, Vanessa Williams and more. Kameko is also the owner of Archrok Entertainment, a full-fledged Artist Management / Production House. The company was formed by Kameko and a group of global investors interested in supporting the arts. They offer full start to finish production of television, film, commercials, music videos, photography, and music production.

I spoke to Kameko on his journey of writing and directing this epic trilogy.

You started the journey of writing this approximately six years ago, why was it so important to you?

I wrote “Protector of the Gods” because the stories of Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra have always resonated with me and I felt it was important to write about these historical women from an African perspective. 
Where did the idea come from?
I was raised by strong black women and I feel that Hollywood’s depiction of women of colour​, in general,  has been very limited. Therefore, I wanted to contribute to broadening the scope. I also felt it was important for moviegoers to see the rich culture of Africa, not just through the lens of slavery.  
Give us a break down of what to expect in each trilogy.
“Protector of the Gods” is an afro-futuristic sword and sorcery trilogy set in ancient Kemet. The trilogy follows the lives of 3 of the kingdom’s most powerful female pharaohs (Hatshepsut Vol. 1, Nefertiti Vol. 2, and Cleopatra Vol. 3) while they fight to preserve the royal bloodline, and protect the principles of the gods they praise.  
Where was it filmed and how long was the process?
We started filming Hatshepsut vol. 1 in 2018 in the U.S. and will continue filming Summer 2019 in S.A. 
Have you cast any African talent?
Yes, we have cast some African talent, and are now planning to do more castings in SA before we continue filming. I am proud ​to share that our mutual friend​ Thokozani Ndaba is part of the South African cast.

Can you reveal any big names attached to the project?
At this time, we are not revealing any of the A-list names that have attached themselves to the project. However, I can share that the actress Rhonda Ross (daughter to music icon Diana Ross and entertainment mogul Berry Gordy) is not only one of the film’s producers, but she will star in the film as Goddess Ma’at. In addition, the film will star the actress YahZarah as Goddess Sekhmet. She is best known for her work with Lenny Kravitz and collaborations with Erykah Badu.

As the writer and director, please share some of the dynamic moments that occurred whilst working o the project.
Since we are still filming, my memories are constantly growing. However, thus far, my most rewarding moment has been seeing the costume concept art presented by my creative collaborator Phillip Boutte Jr.  
When will it be released in cinemas?
The film will be released in Summer 2020. 
The executive producer of the production is Hill Harper and this is what he had to say:
“Protector of the Gods” is an epic and magical story that we have yet to see envisioned nor attempted by a Hollywood studio. I am honoured​ and excited to be co-executive producer of this amazing film and help bring it to audiences across the globe. I think it is essential that moviegoers understand and watch historically accurate depictions of African history, from more than simply a slave narrative. Now more than ever, audiences are hungry for stories such as these told without bias. I am excited to be a part of bringing it to millions around the world!

Ntethelelo- mastering the art of forgiveness.

25 Feb

Creating the ultimate sounding board for the voiceless.

In many spaces, activists have been seen and named as being the voice for the voiceless. We have now moved into a new phase where platforms are created so that those in need are given a safe space and encouraged to express themselves, as they know best. One powerful game changer who is practising this is Thokozani Ndaba, the founder of The Ntethelelo foundation.
I met Thokoazni almost two decades ago. We were both two lost souls looking for healing and try to navigate a plan to be the change in the world. We started our activism friendship/journey way back in around 2003 where we both joined POWA and went through the three-month intensive training courses and workshops. Since then we have been actively campaigning for the rights of women. Thokozani took it further.

Who is Thokozani?
She is a former Ford Foundation Fellowship recipient who completed her Master’s Degree at NYU’s Steinhardt Educational Theatre. This powerful warrior holds a BA in Applied Drama and Theatre from the University of Witwatersrand. She specializes in facilitation and teaching. She does excellent work on social justice issues using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques and a range of other applied theatre methodologies. She uses theatre as a facilitation tool in communities and as an educational tool within the classroom. Thokozani has also worked with the University of South Africa (UNISA) Psychology & Research Department where she uses theatre of the Oppressed to create safe spaces and enable dialogue with different marginalized communities with the hope of bringing about behaviour/social change, healing and personal growth.
She is the founder and director of Ntethelelo Foundation in Johannesburg, where she works with disadvantaged youth with the main focus on self…self-love and self-respect.

Ntethelelo means forgiveness- In her explanation of how the name came to fruition, Thokozani says, that Ntethelelo is her daughter’s name. She emphasizes the importance of forgiveness, forgiving ourselves first, then forgiving the people who hurt us. In order to move on with our lives, we need to break the chains that have been placed on us by abusers. These pains then hold us down and thus stop progress.
Their core values are of the foundation as based on community building.
Building a community through behaviourial change thus to influence social change. The aim is to bring healing and personal growth by using applied Drama and theatre. Thokozani focuses techniques of The theatre of the oppressed.

I had the opportunity of visiting the ladies at the Ntethelelo Foundation. The location is in the Northeast part of Johannesburg, in an informal settlement known as Sitjwetla. The community is made of shack​ dwellings, the community do not have access to proper​sanitation​n and safety and security is a major​ concern.
The ladies who have joined all live in the same area. As Thokozani, says, they have to come from that area as they all have suffered and experienced the same amount of trauma and understand and live in the same dwellings and demographics. The other criteria for joining are that they have to be between the ages of 12 and 19 years old. They have to understand that once part of the group they will be expected to follow the programs values, mission, and aims.

They weekly routines.
On Mondays from 15h00 to 17h00, they have literacy class, where they spend their time reading. Often tutors avail themselves for extra lessons in English, Maths etc.
On Tuesdays- They have a group Yoga class. This is to emphasize grounding and thus helping with effectively dealing with trauma.
On Wednesday, they have an open talking session. This day is reserved for outsiders such as guest​ speakers or parents. The mothers of the girls are often invited to come and share their challenges in a safe space. This space and time are also reserved for musicians who teach a class through music.

I was invited on a Wednesday to speak to the ladies. On my arrival I was introduced to the group through a series of dance and singing exercises, this is done in groups to establish focus amongst the participants. We start the exercise by one person dances in a circle, announcing who we are and then they choose another participant to follow the chain. I then engaged with the young ladies as we sat in a circle as we began to share our stories. At first, they were reluctant but then opened up about their harrowing life challenges.
Thokozani has brilliantly and carefully created a safe space for them to share their journeys as a medium to talk as well as space for comfort. One of their strict rules is that if the ladies do not follow the rules, the group will make a decision and if agreed the person will be asked to leave the group.
The focus on the foundation is to create a platform for young ladies to know that they have a voice, teach them about listening to each other and creating camaraderie amongst themselves. The aim is to create and maintain the knowledge that their present circumstances do not define their future.
Their testimonies were real, hard-hitting but essential.

The program does not only deal with open discussion and workshops on self-love, but Thokozani has also partnered with the Market Photo workshop on photographic training.
The ladies have access to cameras where they are encouraged to take self-images. These images are a reflection of their daily life stories. They use photography, using themselves as the mirror of the community. Using the lens as a tool to tell their stories.
At the end of the program, their work will be exhibited in a gallery space in Auckland California. Where only black women photographers are hosted. Thokozani has also secured a space at the Human rights festival which will take place at Constitutional Hill, in Johannesburg.

The foundation is made up of two directors plus Thokozani and two board members. Currently, they survive on donations.
I call you all corporates to try and lend a hand either through assistance with lectures on Wednesdays. Thokozani also ensures that she has a light meal prepared for the ladies at the end of every session, so food or water donations are welcomed. This is essential as many of the ladies​ go for days without a proper​ meal.
Due to the high level of poverty, often the ladies lack basic toiletries and necessities such as soap, menstrual cups or pads, deodorant etc

The reality of living in Sitjwetla

How can you help?

Use the banking details below to make a deposit directly into our bank account:
Bank Account Name: Ntethelelo Foundation
Bank Account Number: 62710646342
Name of Bank: First National Bank
Address of Bank: Rosebank
Town/City: Johannesburg
Country: South Africa
Reference: Your name / organisation / phone number

To find out what the foundation’s current needs are, Please e-mail them,

These Dam Blacks!

25 Feb


As Black communities from across the globe, we need to take ownership of our talents, acknowledgements​ and celebrate our excellence and achievements. My three passions in life are Womxn, Africa and the arts, so I needed to share a great initiative called ‘These Dam Blacks’.
After my exhilarating experience of being part of Abantu Book festival in December 2018, where my autobiography, Reclaiming The Soil was featured and Lebo Mashile moderated a panel, where I shared the stage with Mme Thuli Nhlapo. The three-day event included meeting with some of Africa’s most prolific writers, authors, publishers, speakers, and book lovers. The event created space for phenomenal discussions on and off the stage. One of the great conversations that I had was with Sabelo Mcinziba on his involvement​ and projection​ of creating safe Balck spaces. I recently caught up with him to chat about another powerfully​ Black initiative.

This is what he shared:
‘These Dam Blacks’ came about as a result of a need to create spaces of affirmation for each other as black people particularly but not limited to the cities. There is a great sense of alienation that we go through as black people in this world and in the urban spaces especially so this space is an intervention to our sociability. We wanted a space that would affirm us in all of our 50 Shades of Blacks as we come from various experiences and have different ways to black but we black nonetheless in a white world – so out of necessity, the space had to be openly black and inviting to different experiences of blackness and thus it is a safe space and must be.

The emphasis on Dam!
We made a call out to people to gather at Emmarentia Dam which is also where we derived our name which is also a play on the word Damn as we believe that our position in the world as black people is the position of the Damned as Frantz Fanon coined it in Les Damnes de la terre, literally translating to the damned of the earth or as popularly known in English, The Wretched of the Earth. However, we have decided to use our agency to do something about our damnation hence the creation of These Dam Blacks as an affirming, collaborative and networking space characterized by a free-spirited and easy going approach that is different to the usual suit and tie networking events. The location itself on a park by a dam, on a Sunday afternoon with blankets and picnic baskets and games for adults and children, is something we think is a rare or unique contribution of These Dam Blacks.

What can we expect?
We pride ourselves in that we are a family friendly space (we have a Kiddies’ Corner) and believe that your development as a person can and must be in community with others. For people who do not have family in the cities as is often the case as a result of the migrant labour system or even upward mobility, These Dam Blacks becomes a family to attendees and this comes from their own testimonies.

How the Dam Blacks started.

At the first gathering of These Dam Blacks, five individuals were endorsed by the gathering to form the organising committee for subsequent events and this group is still intact doing exactly that, with this being the 6th Edition in Johannesburg starting from 2017 and one edition in Cape Town which has its own committee and other places are welcome to expand the network by connecting with us and set up a chapter wherever they may be and we have had interest in Limpopo, North West, the Eastern Cape, and KZN quite prominently and we are sure this number will increase as the brand grows.

Please share a beautiful moment that you experienced at one of the previous events?

A beautiful moment will differ for every Dam Black but for me, it was the overall success of the gathering and the explosive spirit that is the manifestation of black love. It is something that is hard to describe but when it is felt, it is unmistakable. That spirit has endured that on two occasions when we have been rained on, other Dam Blacks have opened their homes to us to host the event there and in both instances, it was absolutely beautiful as that opening of the homes comes as a result of opened hearts and a love for oneself and each other. So that ‘beautiful moment’ continues for me as space exists because it is the space that gives us the power to carry on and the magic that we are as black people given all of what we have been through. 

Which Dam Black should attend?
As mentioned, These Dam Place is an open space with a very relaxed atmosphere. So the invitation goes to all black people and it is a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs as they get to meet a potential client base. Given the open nature of the invitation, any entrepreneur who is an owner or seller of black-owned products is welcome to space. We collaborate strongly with BrownSense and they advertise These Dam Blacks on their platform. We also collaborate with Buy Black Mzansi and they equally share on their platform and other online based African markets are part of the broader network of These Dam Blacks. We invite entrepreneurs to set up an hour before start time. We are not exactly a market but are open to marketers so we do not charge for space as other platforms would if they are having a market.
Because it is an open and easy going space, we often deal with entrepreneurs as they arrive if they did not ask prior questions or confirm attendance themselves. As things stand, we will have the Abantu Bookstore so all the people who could not buy books at the Abantu Book Festival will get an opportunity to buy at These Dam Blacks and we will have some free books on promo.

Food and drink are provided. In the past, we have hired a catering company but we have also catered by cooking at a Dam Black kitchen offered by any of the patrons. We also encourage people to bring and share but principally we cater as we understand that some people do not have the means to bring and share and we do not want people to stay away from the space because they cannot afford this. The basis of this comes from our traditional systems as African people. If you host an event, have the entire means to host and as and when people contribute, it is to add to make it better but if one cannot afford, they must still attend because “Nongenankomo uyayidl’inyama.” – ‘Even the one without a cow eat the meat”.

This weeks program:

The set times are 12pm-5pm but the practice is that people will start arriving and mingling around 12 and we start typically an hour later once the majority of the people have arrived. We have never ended at 5 pm as people want to stay on till it’s quite dark around 8 pm and very often people organise drinks for themselves afterward with their new friends and old friends.

This week we can expect a wine education session by a black womxn winemaker. The day will include a circle where we introduce ourselves to each other before the organic networking session later. There will also be entertainment by two amazing local poets.

There will also be a break for eating and drinking all black produced everything and have a conversation about how we move supporting black business beyond end-user/consumers status but also investors. Other areas of discussion will be on the Black Panther movie in all its complexities and meanings to us a people.

If the heavens open up, what is plan B?
If it rains, we will move to one of the houses nearby as we have done in the past and this has not affected the quality of our events.

A closing note from Sabelo:
After all the black love, we hug (don’t wear sweet perfumes please) goodbyes and wake up on Monday to make use of the strategic contacts you made at These Dam Blacks.