Tag Archives: Waka talent

Rwanda’s catalyst​ for Hope!

9 Apr

My passions in life are Women, Africa, and the arts. On a recent visit to Rwanda, I had the opportunity of meeting the countries most celebrated artist and activist, Hope Azeda. I was introduced to Hope through one of my Ugandan sister, Fiona Marwa. It was the last day of my trip in Kigali and had a limited amount of time but Fiona insisted that I touch base with Hope, who was also trying to push through a crazy work schedule. I was fortunate enough as she made time between her meetings, rehearsals and running Rwanda’s top performing arts centre.
We met at a beautiful book shop in Kigali, which had the most breathtaking view that saw endless hills and immaculate gardens. On sitting down with her, her energy and spirit ignited my soul. I knew that although we had set aside 30 minutes to talk, it will be worthwhile.

So who is Hope Azeda?
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Hope is the director and founder of the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.
Hope Azeda was born in Uganda. Her parents, Norman and Beatrice, were born and lived in Rwanda but fled to neighbouring Uganda in 1959 as a result of increasing ethnic tensions following a Hutu uprising against Tutsi leadership.
Hope is one of 11 children and her sibling’s life in Uganda was spent living at a hospital residence, where her mother worked as a midwife. Her father lived and worked at a refugee camp, teaching maths and French. Hope later went on to study at Namasagali College in Eastern Uganda, where her love and passion for the arts began. This led to her pursuing a career in music, dance, and drama. Growing up, Hope’s relatives had told her how beautiful Rwanda was, so it had always been a childhood dream of Hope’s to return to Rwanda – a place she called home despite never having lived there. In 1998, Hope followed her dream and moved to Kigali. It was not easy as she had no friends there and was not fluent in Kinyarwanda or French (two of the languages spoken in Rwanda). Many of her family lived in Rwanda but unfortunately became victims of the Rwandan genocide.

Soon after her arrival in Rwanda, Hope founded the Mashirika Performing Arts Media Company in Kigali. At first, she used to sit with her students under a tree and work, they now work from a beautiful house in Kigali.
When she arrived in Rwanda, there was no infrastructure. She went on to say “the country was on its knees. It was in ashes and was trying to rise. As an artist, your instinct takes you there – what can I do?.

As we began chatting in the coffee shop, we realized that we needed a lot more time together and so he invited me to come and visit the centre and sit in on a rehearsal. A few hours later I arrived and a beautiful colourful house. As you enter, the entrance hall is a mirrored room, with beautiful quotes on the wall. The rest of the house is made of a kitchen and an office and I was led outside to the upstairs terrace, where the students are rehearsing for the show.
The terrace, like most of the ​Rwandan terraces,​ overlooks another spectacular view of Kigali’s rolling hills and perfectly manicures laws.

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Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.

Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company were established in 1997. Through different modes of performance including dance, movement, music, drama, and spoken word, Mashirika is constantly exploring new ways to develop, learn and create exciting theatre. The company uses the arts as a tool for social transformation. Partnering with organizations such as the Aegis Trust and the Ministry of Justice, Mashirika has produced many films, plays, and performances based on the causes and prevention of genocide, the Gacaca proceedings (a system of community justice in Rwanda, to help with community rebuilding) and the importance of unity and reconciliation. Mashirika uses performing arts to engage the audience, and teach about important issues. Through its use of interactive theatre and forum theatre, Mashirika is at the forefront of theatre for development; demonstrating its mission that performing art can be Mashirika Theatre Company

The mission
The Mashirika Performing Arts Media Company mission is to prove that performing arts is not only entertainment but a tool of social transformation and source of employment. Mashrika uses drama as a tool for social transformation, its productions intended to teach, commemorate and raise awareness of important issues.

Topics of plays have ranged from reconciliation to sexism and AIDS. Plays are taken to communities in villages and markets, intended to create platforms for civic dialogues to encourage development and reconciliation. Mashirika has been at the forefront of using theatre for development, using forms like interactive theatre, image theatre, forum theatre.

Combining art and activism:
As the Genocide had taken the front stage in the Rwandan narrative, Hope decided to use that as a way to find healing, create awareness and establish a brighter and positive platform for those to come.
The production, Africa’s Hope, was a theatre production which was commissioned in 2004 for the 10th anniversary of the genocide, more than 1,000 performers drew on personal testimonies from the war. Its running time was 100 minutes, which represented the 100 days of the genocide. The play was performed in Rwanda and in Edinburgh for the G8 World Summit in 2005. It also recently toured 15 schools and theatres in the UK.
The subject matter was incredibly difficult and it dealt with emotions and trauma through the eyes of a child. Hope, felt that as adults, they had messed up and wanted to explore the narrative through the eyes of the children.

Her other works and projects since have dealt with other social topics from sexism to Aids, often performed in sites ranging from refugee camps to open football pitches and village halls.

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Ubumuntu Arts Festival.

In 2015, with a grant from the African Leadership Initiative, Hope set up the annual Ubumuntu Arts Festival, bringing music, dance, art and theatre to the amphitheater at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It attracts about 5,000 people per day. Azeda chose the venue not only for its symbolic value, but also because the performances give Rwandans a way to engage with the conflict both individually and as a group, or through what she calls “public introspection”. “The set is well-dressed, the scenography is there… It crosses into your own internal conversation,” she says.

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The G25 production
G25 is the latest theatre production, will commemorate 25 years since the end of the Genocide. When I visited the centre, I sat in on their rehearsals for this production. The production will be performed in two phases in Rwanda, after which it will be staged in New York. For the first phase of the production, Mashirika will collaborate with artists from the UK and Argentina, and their joint piece will be performed on April 12, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Amphitheatre, to coincide with the start of the official genocide commemoration period. The second phase of the production will see further collaboration between Rwandan artists and those from the U.S, and the performance will be staged at this year’s edition of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in July, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Amphitheatre. The production will then be staged in New York, in the US. On the production, Hope​ says, “The theatrical performance will be a collective of young voices questioning the past as they take on the responsibility of being guardians of a dark history they were never part of. The big question at hand would be; ‘why did one million people die in 100 days, in a country they love, with beautiful people and a beautiful culture’?”
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Azeda described G25 as “an open script of global concerns”, as the issues it seeks to address are not unique to only Rwanda, but rather a rallying call to global young voices to be authors of their own destiny.​

My time with the performers at their rehearsals​ and a few pictures taken in the house.


Through Waka talent agency, we aim to work​​ with The Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company and Ubumuntu Arts Festival with the aim of creating​ powerful Pan African​ synergies​s that tell our stories, in the most authentic way.

Slim slam dunks in Phokeng.

22 Oct

Slim the gift of givers.

This past weekend was an incredibly proud and beautiful experience for me, as my client Jerome a.k.a Slim Du Plooy traveled through to Phokeng. ​He was booked through The JR NBA to emcee an event and we participated in a number of accompanying events. Prior to the event​, ​I organised a special surprise for a few scholars at one of the local schools in Phokeng.

My Bafokeng pride:
I was born to The Bafokeng nation, my family​ originates​​ from a small village called Phokeng. Prior to my birth, my mother was a domestic​ worker for a white Jewish​ family, they were based in Johannesburg​. After my birth​, I traveled​ to Johannesburg where I lived with my mother. After a few months of living there, her employers took it upon themselves to raise me as their own. The arrangement brought about great opportunities for me but also many sacrifices as I was not brought up to know my tradition and customs and therefore did not grow up in Phokeng. Fast forward to forty years later, after completing my autobiography, Reclaiming the Soil. My book took over a decade to write as it took me through a process of trying to find myself, reclaim and understand my African identity and reclaim my African pride. Part of my journey and new life choices is to get involved in uplifting and empowering my community of Phokeng. I have participated in a number of events and project with Matale Secondary school.

So when Jerome Du Plooy a.k.a Slim called me to tell me that he was buying​ shoes for scholars and that he wanted to hand them​ over to a school I automatically thought of Matale Secondary School. I contacted the principal and we set up the logistics for the handover. Handing over the shoes was a great idea but it is important for scholars to hear from other about the stages of success. As Slim started his life living way below the poverty line, he speaks from a place of inspiration and empowerment. He shares his​ journey and celebrates himself. He is blatantly honest when it comes to teenage pregnancy and is very passionate about teaching the youth that there is a time for people to have children and that focusing on education is key.

Who is Slim?
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Jerome Du Plooy a.k.a Slim a revered emcee and motivational speaker. Slim grew up on the dusty streets of Kliptown, where​ he stayed in a one-roomed​ shack with his single mum. For nearly two decades he only knew of a life of poverty where he was used to living without electricity and running water. On the streets,​ he was taunted to join the fast and dangerous life of drugs and gangs. At some point,​ he chose that life and joined a gang who were involved in drug dealing​ and crime. Through the grace of God, he pulled himself out of a gang whilst on a drug run. It was through assistance from the NBA and Boston City Campus he was awarded two bursaries and studied towards his future.

Slim is now an accomplished actor, after featuring as a supporting role in Generations, Rhythm City, ​and Hope. Through​ the NBA, Slim has travelled across Africa and all the way to NYC as an emcee for the global sporting brand.

A few years back he founded The Slim Cares Foundation, through the foundation he wants to uplift and empower underprivileged​ children​. The foundation aims to ensure that these youth will have the same opportunities as those who come from welathy and privledged backgrounds. The foundation aims at providing basic and necessary tools and items for these youth, such as school​ shoes, advice, food, ​and clothes.

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He has emceed a number of sporting events and this year he was hired again by NBA to host the League Finals through the JR NBA.

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What is JR NBA?
The Jr. NBA is the official youth basketball participation program of the NBA. The Jr. NBA includes a free, membership-based program for existing youth basketball leagues/organizations. The membership is to help encourage and support youth basketball participation at the grassroots level and improve the overall youth basketball experience for all participants. The Jr. NBA aims to develop a lifelong passion for the game of basketball in boys and girls ages 6-14 by teaching them the fundamentals of the sport while instilling core values including teamwork, respect, ​and sportsmanship.

The shoes handover:

On the day of the handover, Slim was accompanied by his two friends and brothers form the Basketball world, Thabo and Junior.
Thabo Marotola is form Hoops 4 Hope and Mmoloke Junior is the head coach from Royal Bafokeng Sports and operates​ from theRoyal​l Bafokeng Palace.


Hoops4Hope:

Hoops 4 Hope provides the skills and support young people need to play team sports and face the many challenges of growing up in communities plagued with poverty, crime, and the HIV epidemic. Their dedicated team of MVP volunteers and All-Star​ staff are on the ground and help achieve long-lasting community benefits
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All three gentleman shared their views on success, laughter, ​and entitlement. These uplifting words were well received by the learners present, the videos can be found via the Waka Agency Youtube channel:
Shoes Handover at Matale secondary School.

Thabo from RBS

Slim talking at Matale Secondary school

For more information or bookings from Slim or if you would like to get involved with the Slim cares Foundation, please do contact us:
rsoei@wakaagency.biz
http://www.wakaagency.biz

Simba Mudereri becomes a truly Pan African voice.

1 Jun

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When I travel to a new country I always like to engage with people that fall into my three passions in life, being Women, Africa, and the arts. So when I visited Botswana a few years back on an activism assignment, I made the best of that opportunity. I was interviewed on a number of radio stations and one being GabzFM. The station is a young and powerful one that has a large demographic and speaks to the young and young at heart of Botswana. One of​ the presenters who I met at an event afterward​, was Simba Mudereri. I was not fortunate enough to have been interviewed by him, but we sat and spoke and exchanged stories, shared our dreams and expressed our passions. It was soon after that that I discovered that this man was not just passionate about the arts, his voice but a man of credibility. An incident occurred where he had the option to turn a blind eye but he took the higher road. He stepped up as a ​gentleman and provided protection and support to me in so many ways.

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Simba at his first Waka photo shoot.

Soon after that after watching his career, he soon became a WakaStar. I have watched him travel between Johannesburg and Gaborone on voice over assignments, pushing his dream and believing in his passion and God-given​ talent. I know after booking him for an emcee event, the testimony from the client will exude one of satisfaction at his professionalism and ability to represent any client or brand that he works for.

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In 2017, he was the official emcee from the TedX Gaborone conference. He has emceed a number of events from financial institutions, telecommunications, hotel and restaurant etc.
His voice has been heard in South Africa and across Zimbabwe.
He has been interviewed on many platforms​ from Cliffcentral.com, Transafricaradio, ​ and MetroFM with DJ Fresh.

On Cliffcentral he hosted his own podcast, called Random Musings.
He spoke about a dreaded question that many may be familiar with – “When are you getting married?” Simba looks at when is the right time to tie the knot, whether this institution still deserves a place in modern society, and whether or not age plays a factor in a successful marriage. Together with his in-studio guests, Simba provides advice on how to know whether or not you want to marry a particular person, or whether you are simply compatible with them. ​his gguests​included​ myself and Waakstars Kim Jansen​ and Mapumba Cilombo.
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He is not only a consumate professional, he is a God fearing brother, and my partner in crime. He is a powerful​ peoples person and makes friends wherever he goes.
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This year he made the decision to move back to his home country,Zimbabwe​. Simba knows and sees the need in using his powerful voice and be part of that enigmatic change that is happening in the country. He has joined the ZiFM family. Simba has replaced DJ Munya on the energetic The Rush  on ZiFM Stereo.
He truly lives and understand the Pan African agenda and I know that this journey will bring him challenges but he will definitely create an amazing platform and leave a mark as he did when left Gaborone.

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At present Simba travels between Harare, Johannesburg, ​and Gaborone for other emcee, speaking, ​and voice over events.

If you require additional information on his work, bookings and rates, please contact us.
http://www.wakaagency.biz
rosie@wakaagency.biz
Telephone: +27 0102861935

Lydia Forson: My African Dustler: A Diva Who Hustles

6 Nov

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In my previous blogs I have mentioned that I conducted the casting for Tinsel Ghana and Kenya. During the Ghanaian sessions I had the fortunate experience of meeting the acclaimed actress, Lydia Forson. Like kindred spirits we hit it off immediately. A few years later she came to South Africa as she was cast in the South Africa soap opera: Scandal. Back then many South Africans were not aware of the Pan African entertainment industry and therefore were not aware of the acclaimed artisans that emerge from across Africa, for us it was a great move and achievement. We continually crossed paths on our different interactions across the continent. Lydia is a go-getter, loves life and believes in standing up for justice, when the situation arises, I suppose that is why we are so alike. That is why she is my ultimate: DUSTLER!! A DUSTLER is a diva who hustles. A term I learnt from another Ghanaian DUSTLER, Anita Erskine.
I should also add that both Lydia and I are a little cray cray and have the capability of screeching very loud when seeing each other. In 2012 at the Ama-awards – African Movie Academy Awards , which took place in Lagos Nigeria, I was in the reception area, waiting for something when I heard a voice that I recognised, I turned around and it was Lydia. Normal people would have just greeted but the two of us were so crazy and happy that we both screeched at the sight of each other. One of life’s beautiful moments, that I will never forget.

The rest of that weekend we were thick as thieves. I was rather irritated when we were on the red carpet and a certain African TV presenter started to interview her and in the middle of the interview, the presenter said ‘ stop sorry I need to interview the Holywood guy.’ The ‘Hollywood guy’ was Issaih Washington, the Greys anatomy actor who was fired fin 2007. I was furious and let the presenter, (who I had actually trained when she started her career in 2010) and her producer know that we should celebrate our international stars in the same light as our African ones. The rest of the weekend was full of laughs and plotting our next moves across Africa. We remained in contact and of course she joined the WAKA family.
In 2016 while I was living in Uganda, she was visiting and of course we met and had an absolute blast. I secured an interview for her with our other Waka star Brian Mulondo on one of my shows that I headed at the time.
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Lydia and myself at the AMA-Awrds 2012.


Lydia and myself hanging out in Uganda and Lydia with the WAKA star Brian Mulondo.

For those of you, who do not know who she is, this is Lydia Forson:

She is an award-winning Ghanaian actress, writer, and producer. In 2010 she won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Lydia Forson’s acting career started with a cameo role in Hotel St. James (2005), Run Baby Run (2006), Different Shades of Blue (2007) and a stint in the reality show The Next Movie Star in Nigeria (2007).
Shirley Frimpong Manso, CEO of Sparrow Productions, who had previously worked with her in the Ghanaian television series Different Shades of Blue brought Lydia Forson back to the screens through the movie Scorned. This starring role led to her first African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) nomination as the Best Upcoming Female Actress.
In 2009, Lydia Forson starred in the award-winning The Perfect Picture. She has starred in A Sting in a Tale, Phone Swap and Masquerades. Lydia’s passion for her work is demonstrated in the extent to which she lives out characters in her movies.

Her Filmography includes:
• Hotel St. James (2005) – Cameo Roles
• Run Baby Run Becky (2006) – supporting role[5]
• Different Shades of Blue (2007)
• The Next Movie Star Reality Show (2007) – Third Runner Up
• Scorned (2008) – Lead Role
• The Perfect Picture (2009) – Supporting Role
• A Sting in a Tale (2009) – lead role[6]
• Masquerades (2011)
• Phone Swap (2012)[7]
• Kamara’s Tree (2013)
• “Scandal” (2013) (South African Series) – Aku[8]
• A Letter From Adam (2014) Writer/Producer[9][10]

Her awards include:
2009 – African Movie Academy Award Nominee
2010 – African Movie Academy Award Best Actress in a lead role[11]
2012 – Ghana Movie Awards Best Screenplay ‘In The Cupboard’

Just over the past weekend she won the award for her performance in the Peter Sedufia directed film, Keteke, at AFRIFF. African International Film festival.

AFRIFF is week-long annual film festival that takes place in Nigeria Founded in 2010 by Chioma Ude, The event normally the festival features award shows and film training classes for industry players. This year’s edition, which took place from October 29 to November 4, was climaxed with the AFRIFF Globe Awards Globe Awards at the Eko Hotel & Suites.

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Lydia also writes a thought provoking blog, that can be found via http://www.lydiaforson.com. In her blog she serves a fine tea of woman issues—and occasionally runs into politics, causing havoc with her honesty and opinions. One of my favourite pieces included the following one, posted on October 9.

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Her blog writes:
So guess who took over the runway at this years Glitz Fashion Week!!
You guessed right. Meeeeeeee!!!!
I still remember cat walking in my living room in  as a kid and telling everyone I was going to be a model.
Then the world stopped me before I could even dream any further,  by telling me I was too big to ever walk the runway.
Who’s laughing now?
There are no limitations to what you can  do with your life. if you put your mind to it and you’re determined, the world will have no choice but to accommodate you.
Big thank you to Latasha of http://www.aboutthatcurvylife.com for allowing me to do this and Abaya of Lagos for the amazing outfit. 

Lydia believes that the day we stop dreaming we end our existence, and that only dreams give us a hope and something to live for.

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The Angolan Goddess and media mogul: Weza Solange.

31 Oct

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Weza Solange

As I continue profiling my Waka talent, today I would like to introduce you
Weza Solange, our Angolan Goddess and media mogul.
Weza is a TV presenter, actor, producer and digital influencer from Luanda, Angola.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Diploma in Business Management, is a familiar face to Channel O audiences who have seen her as a presenter on screen.
Weza Solange first got introduced to the whole of Africa during Big Brother’s amplified 6 season.The Angolan beauty caught our attention with her exotic and captivating accent, not forgetting bold personality. 
Weza still remains a household name within the Pan African entertainment industry and with a new role on one of South Africa’s most popular soapie, Weza still has a lot to offer the industry.

She also starred as Fumi Uche in the Mzansi Magic telenovela Inkaba, from 2012-2013.

Weza produced her first TV show, called Acceso VIP.  It’s a lifestyle entertainment show that aired on Jango Magic, DSTV channel 513. Many people don’t know about it because it was in Portuguese, specifically for the Angolan and Mozambican market.

Weza presents the first Portuguese PanAfrican travel show of its kind. It is called Conheca Mzansi, meaning Meet Mzansi. It is aired on Zimbo TV.

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Her showreel bouquet includes:

10 Over 10 – Season 2 – Commentator – Herself

Big Brother Africa – Season 6 (Amplified) – Housemate – Herself

Generations – Season 1 – Hope

iNkaba – Season 1 – Fumi Uche

The Channel O Africa Music Video Awards – Season 8 (Channel O Music Video Awards) – Red Carpet Host – Herself

Her TV hosting roles include:

Host of ‘Top Mais’: A music and lifestyle show, aired on Channel O.
Host of the first Miss Africa pageant, 2016.
Host of TV Show Extrem Conversar
V-reporter for the voice of Angola
Co-host on 2016 Miss Africa Calabar for Climate change.
Guest presenter at 2016 MTV Africa awards.
Charities:
Angola and Mozambique brand ambassador for Sadia foods.
Angolan ambassador for the Africa International Hair expo.
Involved with Adopt A School Charity Organisation.
Doctors Without Borders.

Weza has received many accolades including:
Voted Angola’s most influential celebrity in social media.
Johannesburg fashion week.
Africa fashion week

Her production credits include:
Production of Acesso VIP- Entertainment show on DSTV
Producer of Nzianga guesthouse, TVC
The Voice Angola
Project manager of the Online team for ‘ Big Brother Angola’.