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Saturday, October 18, 2008


Six phenomenal South Africans honoured for their contribution to preserving and promoting heritage and culture.

The Gateway Theatre of Shopping and Kizo Art Gallery’s annual Heritage Art Festival once again offered an ambitious multi-layered, forward-thinking festival of more than a dozen art-themed events and The Heritage Awards was one of the major events of the festival line-up.

This comprehensive collection of exhibitions, workshops, installations, demonstrations, functions and retail opportunities has steadily gained momentum and is now probably the most expansive, exciting, significant and diverse exhibition of visual art and heritage to be held in KwaZulu-Natal and is considered to be one of the most important group showings of the year in South Africa. The list of participating artists reads like a “who’s who” of the South African art scene.

“We were incredibly proud and excited by the line-up and diversity of this year’s Heritage Festival,” says Kizo Gallery director Craig Mark. “We believe that together with our partners, we created an all-encompassing art experience talked to the people of our city – from ardent art collector to passers-by with merely a passing interest in participating in the arts. The carefully-selected range of events ensured that a full spectrum of heritage and arts opportunities was considered.”

The Heritage Awards, a high-profile annual event which saw six phenomenal South Africans honoured for their contribution towards the preservation and promotion of South African heritage and culture - took place in September at the Imax Theatre in Gateway.

The awardees were chosen by Kizo in conjunction with KwaCulture and the Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism. The awardees included singing diva Busi Mhlongo; activist Fatima Meer; people’s poet Mzwakhe Mbuli; Zulu cultural consultant Barry Leitch; the late ceramicist Nesta Nala and South Africa’s first poet laureate Mazisi Kunene.

Tireless defender of the oppressed since the 40’s, Dr Fatima Meer was a founding member of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) and has established a string of educational institutions, published more than 40 books on a wide variety of subjects and won numerous awards. She has served in a number of advisory capacities for the government and in spite of recent difficulties- the death of her husband and son plus several heart attacks - she remains a fighter and a champion of the under classes.

Mzwakhe Mbuli, the Peoples Poet, has spent his career fighting injustice and racism and promoting positive attitudes. Renowned for his outspoken commitment to freedom and justice, his uncompromising lyrics are set to classic highly-charged township music which has captured the hearts of the urban and rural communities.

Barry Leitch is a renowned Zulu cultural consultant and entrepreneur who together with Kingsley Holgate created Shakaland, the cultural experience near Eshowe. He was a key figure in the development of Sibaya Casino and Entertainment World and was consultant author for the impressive book Zulu.

Renowned for her beer-pots, the late Nesta Nala was one of South Africa's most prolific ceramicists. She won several awards and her work is represented in major public and private collections locally and internationally, whilst three of her daughters continue her legacy.

Mazisi Kunene was not only an epic poet but, in exile, was the Chief Representative of the African National Congress in Europe and America and played a pivotal role in the founding of the anti-apartheid movement. He also served as a Cultural Advisor to UNESCO which made him Africa’s Poet Laureate in 1993 and in 2005 he was honoured as South Africa’s first Poet Laureate.

Busi Mhlongo is a brilliant singer, dancer and composer whose music carries a strong message and defies categorisation. Drawing on various South African styles, it is fused at various times with contemporary elements from jazz, funk, rock, gospel, rap, opera, reggae and West African sounds in a fresh and exciting mix and has a universal appeal as does Busi's singing style and stage presence.

More information from Kizo Art Gallery’s curator, Nathi Kunene, on 031 566 4322 or email: