#CreatePreneurAfrica, Tanzania Rhythm with Saxophonist Zephania Malembela

In his early childhood, he actively engaged in a school band playing Ndulilu, (a local flute). In later teen years he initiated playing the keyboard and joined in the church choir.

He tuned his destiny into a melodious pathway when he laid his hands on a harmonious discovery.....an abandoned saxophone that collected dust in a church.........

Welcome to the world of Zaphania Melembela, a saxophonist from the shores of East Africa, Tanzania.
Rooted in a musical family of love from the Sukuma ethnic group , where traditional music is a key component of every social activity, Zephaniah completed high school and relocated to Dar-es-Salaam to pursue a new chapter of higher education.
Education curriculums did not usually include any formal music lessons. In 2009 he enrolled at the Dar-Es-Salaam Institute of Technology and successfully completed his studies in Science and laboratory Technology in 2013.
The Institute of Technology was not a waste of time, it was strategic articulation to secure a day job and finance formal music lessons from beginner to advanced levels. The studies in technology became a great back up.
 |||A career in music was something that no parent in Tanzania would wish his/her child to pursue at the time|||
He never swayed from his passion for music, even though he had no formal music training.
The year 2012 marked an eventful turnaround year for Zephania. He met a friend from Nigeria who had a book on saxophones….and then there was a church with a forgotten saxophone that nobody bothered to learn playing.
A year of self-teaching continued with little progress. Then in October 2013, he met Frank Masamba , the famous composer and saxophonist since the 1980”s
Frank just returned from Mombasa(Kenya, where he worked as a hotel entertainer.
Zephania gained key insight into saxophone techniques and learned the foundation of African music.
This continued till 2014. He continued as a church musician and started exploring beyond church walls, engaging in music with other bands that were not in religious contexts. He also performed as a solo saxophonist at social functions.
In 2015 his formal music training continued when he engaged in music lessons with Innocent Mkuyuli, a pianist and music educator at the International School of Tanganyika.
His journey continued in music theory and practical musicianship on the tenor saxophone as a principal instrument, he continues with advancing to this present day.
Zephania has worked with bands like the Swahili Blues Band and performed at the Sauti Busara music festival in Zanzibar. He toured internationally with the band and performed with the King of Ethiojazz Mulatu Astatke at the African Jazz Village in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2015.
He has also accompanied a Jazz Music legend Tu Nokwe from South Africa during the Bagamoyo International Festival of Arts and Culture in 2015.
The music industry in Tanzania has evolved into much more opportunities for a committed musician to lead a successful career in music.

There is a calling for more instrumental and  music teachers are more performers.Technology  paves a way for artists to explore global markets in the music industry. Things have changed for the better.

Saxophonist Zephania Malembela
He has been featured in many albums by other artists both on religious and non-religious music arenas in Tanzania and outside Tanzania. He has been acclaimed by listeners and fans to have a rich tone with a special articulation on his instrument.
Currently, he is a member of the Pentanote Trio working with a renowned jazz pianist Barikeyz Mmbaga and his young brother John Mmbaga, a drummer.
 
He is working on his first solo instrumental album which focuses on a fusion of native music with western and jazz tastes. The album will be released soon.

 Meet #CreatepreneurAfrica , Zephania Melembela

Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life? 
What drives me is love. I am a product of love, love from the creator, love from my parents and from the society around me. All the love I received and continue to receive has taught me to value an adventure of becoming a good person and to love every human being by giving my best out of talents and potentials which are invested inside me, music being a major part of me.
How did you find your passion and how old were you? 
The passion has always been with me from the beginning. I come from a musical family, a family that for many generations has taken a leading role of music in its society. My mother, being the nearest of all other family members became my inspiration as she would sing, compose and teach song to a local church choir and she even played guitars very well.
At an age of 13 years I joined the choir she was leading and I started learning to play the keyboard and she was my first music teacher even though she had no formal music classes. She knew how chords were supposed to sound though she didn’t know how to play the keyboard.
We would search and combine the sounds of the keyboard to match the guitar chords that she made on the guitar. That is how it started and the rest is history.
What about your passion appeals to you the most? 
To be relevant to my world by doing the things that complement my talents and potential endowed inside me. Music being among them. To make life a meaningful adventure for me, my family and every other people I can get into contact whether physically or through other media like this.
 What drove you to make money from your passion?
I believe that someone doing his/her passion and being rewarded financially, for it is a sure way of growing the passion to its ultimate potential. This is what drives me to make money from my passion. My passion has to sustain me and to make my family’s life progressive in all spheres that need progress. This is how commitment to passion intensifies. It doesn’t make sense doing your passion with all efforts and then expect to sustain your own life with something else. This will only kill talents and potential and the passion itself altogether.
When was the first time you were paid for your passion?
It was when I was 22 years old. I had my first payment as a church musician for a church which was just being inaugurated. Later I have been able to extend my horizon beyond the four walls of the church to non-religious arenas musically.
As I said, money is just a reward. I am committed to my passion beyond monetary expectations. Making money is not a goal but money reward facilitates me to achieve the goals.
What kept you going when you thought about giving up? 
No! Giving up? How can someone give up on being themselves? If someone gives up on becoming themselves then who do they want to become as a result? My passion (Music) is who I am, I have never tried to think of giving up because it is like betraying myself and trying to become someone else.
Yes, there have been challenges in the journey and they are still coming even now but I try as much to solve them. It is in solving these challenge progress realizes. I solve my challenges and try to seek other people’s help when things get beyond my capacity. I enjoy working in teams that way.
What motivates you every day to be even more successful? 
To live an authentic life, to be who I am and to unleash my full potentials as a human being. Success is a process and not a destination. When I wind up my day being better than the previous day musically then I am successful and this continues that way to me, trying to improve myself more every day.
What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you? 
Doubt is a source of wisdom. For me, being doubted brought positive results. It created to me an avenue to question my inner man and to make a decision based on who I really am and what I am supposed to do with the gift of life I have been blessed with. Though their doubts I was able to find myself.
I will always listen to their doubts about me and I will then keep perfecting myself in order to become my best.
What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you? 
My advice to them is; Look for that reason, that special purpose, that mission you were created for and then build a beautiful life for yourself and those you love around that reason.
Listen to your inner man and be true to yourself. This will lead you to living your authentic life. It is the best reward that you can do to yourself. Be determined, be dedicated, be disciplined and be willing to sacrifice for that reason. All the rest will fall in their positions. You deserve to be happy, this is the cost of becoming one.

#CreatepreneurAfrica – Cape Town’s ‘global lens’ wonder Ayesha Kae-Kazim

 

With a soul life purpose embracing diversity of people and places, eighteen year old Ayesha Kae-Kazim, educated in fourteen different countries all over the world,is ready to set 'global footprints'on the world stage in the narrative of captivating images.

An aspiring documentary photographer, Ayesha  Kae-Kazim is currently studying photography and imaging at New York University. Her creative vision was seeded in early life stages. Born into a prominent family of creatives, her magnetizing aspirations set off into the world era of imagery and its significant role in today’s modern world.

by : Ayesha Kae-Kazim

A modern age career in photography is backed by marvelous and creatives with amazing creations.  Ayesha’s global perspective inspires her vision to unite different communities through art. Her lens often draws her to striking colors and individuals lost in their element, performing the tasks they know by heart.

Gifted with a life purpose of meeting new people and learning about new cultures, she is drawn to experiences and lessons learned. Her ultimate passion is rooted in the visual medium of storytelling. A platform for juxtaposing communities and world exploring
By: Ayesha Kae-Kazim
“200 kilometers into the Arctic Circle, a place I would never thought I could have ended in…… Traveling to all these different countries my teachers and my classmates have been the one that I think I’ve learned the most from, about not only the country that we are in but also about myself and what I would like to give back from my journey”
 Ayesha Kae-Kazim

 

 

“You can be solid in your beliefs and your understandings of the world but you can also learn to cultivate them based on what you learn from others”
Ayesha Kae-Kazim
By: Ayesha Kae-Kazim

Meet #CreatePreneurAfrica Global Visionist Ayesha Kae-Kazim

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 Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?

I find myself continuously inspired by the stories of others. When I take photographs, my aim is to draw connections between the subject and the viewer.

  1.  How did you find your passion and how old were you?

When I was around 10 years old, a friend of my dad’s let me experiment with his digital camera.

This was the first time I had handled a DSLR and I was instantly drawn to the way I could capture my reality from different perspectives and in varying atmospheres.

I went from taking photos of flowers and landscapes that I found generically ‘pretty,’ to capture the candid moments between friends and family. I took comfort in the ability to record and replay memories and thus, photography became a way for me to create a visual journal of my life.

  1.  What about your passion appeals to you the most?

I have never been fond of writing and didn’t grow up keeping a journal or diary. When I discovered photography, it became a way for me to document the moments that were important to me, exactly as they happened from my point-of-view.

The thing that drew me most to photography was the way in which the medium allowed me to share my stories with others while remaining true to my reality.

  1.  What drove you to make money from your passions?

I have yet to make money from my passion! I’m currently in university studying Photography & Imaging and hope that this will take me on the right path to a fulfilling career both in financial and emotional capacities.

  1.  When was the first time you were paid for your passion?

N/A See Above.

  1.  What kept you going when you thought about giving up?

Before applying to university for photography, I constantly questioned whether studying a subject within the visual arts field would be the right decision for my future.

However, after talking to family friends who work in areas including film, music, and photography amongst other creative areas, I realized that no matter how much I tried to steer away from this path, would always be drawn to photography. Knowing that I am now receiving guidance from artistic mentors in university motivates me to cultivate my vision and work towards establishing myself as an artist.

  1.  What motivates you every day to be even more successful?

My peers within university consistently motivate me to work harder within the photographic field. Through class critiques and discussions, I learn about new ways of looking at the world especially within environments that I once considered overly familiar.

What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who continue to motivate and support. For one thing, I feel that I have been my biggest critic and I have learned that sometimes you are the only one standing in your way. I may not always be self-assured, but I am learning to have more faith and confidence within my work.

  1.  What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?

It sounds cliched but follow your dreams. As I mentioned before, no matter how much you try to deny it, I believe that you will always end up doing what you are innately drawn to.

Instead of diverging away in search of a ‘more stable’ career, I would encourage those who are passionate about the arts to dive straight in and give their 100% to establishing their career.

#CreatepreneurAfrica : Story-teller, Poet and Filmmaker, Cape Town’s Weaam Williams

A vision to transcend bigotry and reach a realm where people realize their aspirations and dreams,soul spirit, South Africa's Weaam Williams, weaves her conscious story-telling voice beyond borders... as a poet,a writer,a filmmaker and a performance artist.

With a cinematic vision as an activist and Muslim woman, Weaam Williams, a screenwriter, director and poet , was anointed as a member of  Film Fatales, a New York-based organization representing women directors.

She seeded Tribal Alchemy Productions, a  visual medium platform specializing in video and photography.

Her directorial debut, Hip-Hop Revolution,  hit the international scenes at Silverdocs in 2007. It won the Best Edited Film Award at NYC Reel Sisters Film Festival in 2008 and was broadcasted in 28 countries.

In 2009-2013 she undertook an independent filmmaking project for Southern African distribution.

A Khoe Story Docu-Trilogy, is a three part documentary series about the language, genocide, and remaining culture of South Africa’s indigenous people.

Khoe Story  was officially acquired as material for  South Africa’s high school curriculum, as well as  universities as an awakened historical knowledge  of SA’s indigenous people

Her latest iconic film, “District Six Rising from the Dust”, was initialized when she moved into District six with her cinematographer husband Nafia Kocks.

d6 rising from the dust trailer from Tribal Alchemy on Vimeo.

The vibrancy and culture of District Six is rooted in a personal story examining intergenerational pain and wealth dispossession. It reflects an aurally and visually rich perspective, with nuanced Cape Malay community moments.

Weaam Williams is currently working on a screenplay for a feature film and will soon start production for a short film titled “Two Hues”  as a  writer and director.

 

Meet  #CreatepreneurAfrica’s  Cape Town’s ‘Conscious Storyteller’, Weaam Williams

Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?

I am passionate about telling stories, this I would attribute as my true passion.

I am an activist by nature and my documentary portfolio is inclusive of many human rights films which were inspired by people or causes I was passionate about at that particular intersection of my life.

My work ranges from “Hip-hop Revolution” to “Khoe Story Docu Trilogy”, a series about the history, language, and culture of SA’s indigenous people.

This series brought the genocide of the indigenous people into the
foreground in 2011/12.

I don’t stop being passionate about these causes, but rather allow communities to use my films for activism purposes. The Griqua Nation and other indigenous groups have used the Khoe Story extensively for lobbying purposes – for recognition of the “mother tongue” etc.

I do, however, as a story-teller move on to new projects and my most recent film “District Six Rising from the Dust” – is the first personal narrative.

I have undertaken to tell the story of my family being forcibly removed from District Six, and my own journey after being restituted a house awarded to my grandfather. This film was completed recently and will be exhibited in 2018.

It has inspired my community in District Six, and also encouraged a call to action. I am, however, moving onto fiction narrative projects. I am currently in production for a short film and writing a screenplay for a feature-length film. I am very excited about both these projects.

However, I cannot speak of them yet.  I have a background in poetry and performance poetry. I stopped doing performance poetry when my film career took off as filmmaking requires a great deal of commitment and is all-encompassing.

I found very little time to nurture myself as a poet. However, I have a deep love for poetry and sometimes still write the odd poem when I feel inspired – however, it’s been a very long time since I have shared my poetry with audiences. I hope to do this again

 How did you find your passion and how old were you?

At high school level, I had shown a flair for languages and writing – I enjoyed creative writing. I also wrote plays and got my friends to act in them.

I think I was about 14 years old then. I guess my passion as a writer/director started then. My abilities as a poet I discovered at 16, during the matric end of year holidays and when I started university. I started to explore writing poetry. I was very young at university and needed to process all of the information I was receiving, the cultural paradigm shift and poetry was my way of expressing what I was feeling as a young person, and trying to make sense of it.

Also, English Literature was one of my subjects and provided a platform to explore the literary greats and be inspired by them. My work as a filmmaker has a strong foundation in writing, as films start on paper with written concepts which eventually progresses to a screenplay in the case of narrative or a strong treatment in the case of a documentary.

What about your passion appeals to you the most?

Once again it is the aspect of story-telling. In the world of film, it
starts with a screenplay/ treatment and ends on the cutting room floor (editing). Fortunately, I have the ability to do both write and edit, which means I am a very involved filmmaker and storyteller.

I do, however, allow room for critique from donors, close friends, and colleagues. This is integral to the story-telling process of filmmaking as one tends to get immersed in the work. I, therefore, need that outside objective eye. My production company Tribal Alchemy Productions coined the term “digital storytellers” which has been hugely plagiarised I now see this phrase everywhere. What can I do?

I know that many have of my concepts have been copied and plagiarised – it’s a soul-wrenching battle which I choose to no longer fight. I now hold my cards close to my chest and only impart information of projects on a need to know basis.

What drove you to make money from your passions?

I have always been able to generate income from my writing abilities. It started as free-lance journalism and getting paid as a performance poet. My first paid job in the film industry was as a writer for the drama series Soul Buddyz.

When I decided that I would like to direct, it was also my convincing writing which allowed me access to funding grants to direct my passion projects.

I am now writing a commissioned screenplay which I will direct. I think it’s been small steps and an unfolding journey.

 What kept you going when you thought about giving up?

To be honest, I have never thought of giving up. There are times when I feel really low and feel weighed down by circumstances, be it a rejection letter or financial strife living the artist life.

However, I have always been able to rise above this and keep chiseling, crafting and planning. I allow myself to experience my feelings, but at some point, I will pull myself up and say “Fuck them all – I believe in myself”.

I will think of a new plan and continue working. I also seek solace in
nature. I find after walking in the forest the weight lessons, and I am able to cope. Every single artist has to face rejection, and those of us who are not born into old money have to find means of sustaining ourselves and families with our passion. It is very hard work maintaining this balance.

My husband and I are both filmmakers and between the two of us, we
can take a production from beginning to end. We constantly inspire, comfort and sharpen each other to become better at what we do, to increase the value of our work as our cultural capital and future investment.

What motivates you every day to be even more successful?

Of course, there is the need of self and seeking validation for work which
we have invested huge amounts of time and energy into. However, I am also
motivated by my children – as a co-breadwinner where both parents are
artists we have to strive for excellence as a means of survival. It’s as
simple as that.

What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?

To be honest, there haven’t been many. The ones who have shown doubt, are not doubtful of my abilities but rather holding on to a white-male power threshold or generally do not agree with my POV.

I have managed to work as a filmmaker for many years because there are so many people who believe in me and show this either via funding grant support, acquisitions of my films, commissioned work or supporting my work as audience members. To those people who never believed in me, it is their loss I will continue with my craft and continue to be the voice of the marginalized.

The test really is whether the work resonates with audiences, and I must say with every single piece of work I have tackled, the communities affected feel that I have done their story justice. I am not going to sensationalize, white-wash or taint a story to gain props. I have a responsibility as a story-teller to do this work with integrity.

What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?

My advice is to know what your strengths are and to focus on this. Continue practicing your craft even if you are not getting paid in the beginning, do it for the passion. To become better.

I am not saying you must work for free all of the time, but rather take the time to invest in yourself to master your craft. Be careful of who you share your ideas with, I have been bitten too many times.

The closest of friends can run off with your concept and duplicate it. The film industry is incredibly hierarchical be respectful of this hierarchy for someday, you too will be a producer, director, DOP or whatever it is you want to do.

However, do not allow anyone to belittle or exploit you. Stand up for yourself if you feel this is happening. Put in the hours and surely you will someday reap the benefits.

#CreatepreneurAfrica- Nigeria’s sounds of ‘Positive Force’ – Femi Kuti

Eldest son of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, grandson of political campaigner, traditional aristocrat and women's right activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti is renowned in his own right.

Femi Kuti, committed to social and political change reaching an ideal free and fair Nigeria, blends colorful tunes into distinctive balanced sounds with 'Positive Force' , the band he seeded in 1985.

Femi Kuti was born in 1962 London and grew up in Nigeria. His musical career started at the tender age of fifteen when he played in his fathers band Egypt 80  in the year 1979.

In 1986, December the 13th, Femi initiated the launch of Positive Force, his own vibrant with his sisters Sola and Yeni as lead dancers. This was his independent launch apart from his father legacy. The very first Positive Force performance was the University of Lagos.

 

In 1989, he released his first record, No cause for Alarm.

  •  By 1991 MYOB was released and four years later the Femi Kuti album was released. In 1998  the release of  “Shoki Shoki”  garnered widespread acclaim.

In 2000  he opened The Shrine, his club, where he recorded the live album Africa Shrine. He won a Monaco “World Music Award” that same year! In 2001 he collaborated with Common and Mos Def on Fight to Win, and then toured the United States with rock band Jane’s Addiction.

Due to personal setbacks, there was a four-year absence. But there was a re-emergence in 2008 with Day by Day and Africa for Africa in 2010, his third Grammy nomination.

His diverse  knack of artistry expanded in  the next Grammy nomination, No Place for My Dream . Like the legendary Fela Kuti, he is committed to political and social causes and fights for the emancipation of Nigeria.

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Meet #CreatepreneurAfrica  Femi Kuti,Nigeria’s ‘Positive Force’ 

 

Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?
My passion, my soul passion is music. I aim to be as good as I can musically. My driving force is my family. I love for my family, my children, my music and making people happy.
How did you find your passion and how old were you?
I knew from a very young age must have been 5,6, or 7. It was just a question of how. Finally went full time into music joining my father’s band at age 16/17.
What about your passion appeals to you the most?
The love for my children, it is uncompromising it is. And also my commitment to keep trying to be the best I can musically.
What drove you to make money from your passions?
 It’s never being about money really. Love for what I do must important for me. Remaining steadfast to what my music stands for.
When was the first time you were paid for your passion?
As an instrumentalist playing in my college school band then my father’s band the Egypt 80.

What kept you going when you thought about giving up?
I never thought about giving up.. I even got broke but remained committed.

What motivates you every day to be even more successful?
My music. The love for what I do.
What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?
 People who doubted me?…..
I have nothing to say to them😊.
What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?
Remain steadfast, remain committed and totally be honest and true to life.
We are  one people, one world
One people One world
US/Canada tour July/August