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Thursday, December 1, 2022



(Above: 2022 Standard Bank Young Artists)

They're at the cutting edge of their craft; bold disrupters and innovators who challenge genre, creativity and style, the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artists were announced in Johannesburg last night.

Koleka Putuma is the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artists for Poetry

Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Billy Langa (Theatre Duo) jointly hold the title of 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre

Lady Skollie is the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art

Sylvester Thamsanqa (Thami) Majela is the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance

Msaki is the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Music

Linda Sikhakhane is the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz


Poetry - Koleka Putuma

(pictured left)

Whether you’re listening to her perform or reading her poems as texts, you’re sure to find Koleka Putuma a powerful presence – challenging, consoling, healing, provoking. Her first volume of poetry, Collective Amnesia, was published by Uhlanga Press in 2017; it has since spurred creative responses by numerous artists and activists. This was followed by the self-published collection Hullo, Bu-Bye, Koko, Come in (2021). As the latter title suggests through its allusion to music icon Brenda Fassie, Putuma’s sense of her craft and role as a poet is informed by the wide-ranging legacy of various South African wordsmiths, from stage divas to literary greats, who have come before her.


Theatre - Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Billy Langa

(Theatre Duo - pictured right)

They officially became “Theatre Duo” some seven years ago, but Billy Langa and Mahlatsi Mokgonyana have been co-creators since they met at the Market Theatre Laboratory.

Their landmark collaboration is Tswalo, with Langa as writer-performer and Mokgonyana as director-dramaturg. Among other accolades, the play won a Cape Town Fringe for Best Directing and Performance, a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in 2018 and a Naledi Theatre Award in 2020. It has toured widely in South Africa and Europe, and the text of this “epic performance poem”, in English and Sepedi, has been published in two editions (by Junkets Press and iwalewabooks)


Visual Art - Lady Skollie
(pictured left)

She was born Laura Windvogel-Molifi, but this artist has achieved renown through the persona of LADY SKOLLIE – a pseudonym she explains as follows:

“I want to be a mouthpiece. I’m that dirty auntie skollie who says what you’ve been thinking but never admitted to… coaxing things out of you with a bright and sunny disposition. Humour is a vehicle for social change.”

 There is thus a committed activism underlying her treatment of a range of subjects – in particular, the “forbidden fruit” at the intersection of lust, greed and power, and the deployment of sex as a weapon. Linked to this is her protest against gender-based violence, expressed in images that depict women as shackled, yearning to be free.


Music - Msaki
(pictured right)

One of the themes that emerges among the recipients of the Standard Bank Young Artists Awards in 2022 is the relationship between individual genius and creative collaboration, and Msaki’s career is no different.

She took South Africa by storm in 2019 when she featured on Prince Kaybee’s smash hit Fetch Your Life – a song that would prove inspirational and sustaining to many people during the difficult years that followed (the music video for Fetch Your Life has racked up 10 million views on YouTube). In the same year, Msaki teamed up with DJ Black Coffee on Wish You Were Here, one of the tracks on the Grammy-winning album Subconsciously. Recently, she pursued a very different kind of partnership with 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance, Kristi-Leigh Gresse, who immersed herself in Msaki’s music to spur her own choreographic work.

Collaborations aside, Msaki has a long history with the National Arts Festival. From a young age, Msaki participated in the Children’s Festival at NAF and brought productions to the Fringe as soon as her independent career began. She participated in the Dakawa Jazz Stage as Msaki & The Golden Circle and was awarded two Gold Standard Bank Ovation Awards. She has also curated multidisciplinary events, performances, and workshops at the Black Power Station.


Dance - Sylvester Thamsanqa (Thami) Majela

(pictured left)

Over the past decade, Bloemfontein-born Thami Majela has danced his way around the world, developing a distinctive repertoire that fuses classical ballet, contemporary dance and various African dance styles.

Early in his career, Majela had the opportunity of working with prominent South African dance practitioners like Dada Masilo and P J Sabbagha. In 2015, he was selected by Pro Helvetia for a research residency in Switzerland, where he created the duet Interim with Margarita Kennedy. Majela’s first solo piece, A Last One in Colour, developed into an international collaboration with dancer-choreographer Manao Shimokawa and filmmaker Axel Stasny. This spurred Majela into various short film projects: Sub Zero, Layered Waves, Each Passing Minute, iNxeba and Lilith, Lucifer and Eve.

Undeterred by Covid, Majela has continued to perform on various platforms over the last three years. He created The Last Supper for UJ Arts & Culture’s Pandemic Project, and his SPACTRAL (first featured at the Centre for the Less Good Idea) was part of the Virtual National Arts Festival in 2020. He has become a firm National Arts Festival favourite during the subsequent return to live performance, presenting Mommy Mommy in 2021 and POP (with Matthieu Nieto) in 2022. Majela also features regularly at the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience.


Jazz - Linda Sikhakhane
(pictured right)

Having pursued a musical journey from Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal to New York City and back again, Linda Sikhakane’s compositions and performances reflect a global jazz outlook that is firmly rooted in the local. His early mentors included Brian Thusi and Nduduzo Makhathini in South Africa and Billy Harper, Reggie Workman, David Schnitter and Charles Tolliver in the United States.

Sikhakhane completed his undergraduate degree at the New School in New York after winning the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship. He is currently enrolled for a Master’s degree at the Norwegian Academy of Music. But this saxophonist extraordinaire’s creative output has not been limited to his studies – he cut his teeth through long hours in the recording studio and on stage, working with a host of musical artists ranging from the late Sibongile Khumalo to Thandiswa Mazwai and from Feya Faku to Marcus Wyatt.



The festival “congratulates and celebrate the achievements of the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artists. As we build towards the 2023 National Arts Festival, the work these artists are creating will help define the mood and tone of our 2023 Festival and we look forward to working with them.

"The dates are set - June 22 to July 2, 2023 - we'll see you there!"


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