Julius Malema at the Troyeville Hotel book club

While Julius Malema was not celebrating a victory after the contentious hate speech ruling delivered yesterday we were at the Troyeville Hotel dinner and book club listening to Fiona Forde, the author of his biography, in conversation with City Press Editor Ferial Haffajee.
The event was apparently sold out in just over an hour. The room was wall to wall with journalists in whose professional lives Julius Malema occupies a special place. The man is news. He strides across the public stage as if he owns it, and has a way of making even reasonable statements sound outrageous, flanked as they usually are by the spectacle of a tenderpreneur calling for the nationalization of everyone else’s wealth.


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The other “state of the nation”

#187. Attend the Flux Trend Review, which I did yesterday at the University of Johannesburg Theatre – a little spot of [architectural] light on an otherwise mostly foreboding campus (that was besides for the delicious food from the hospitality and tourism students – 10 out of 10 for the home-made biscuits). Ferial Haffajee, editor of City Press gave the opening talk, a state of the nation address that included lots of ripe bananas, a great soundtrack and even a soccerball giveaway (definitely a 2010 event trend). Maybe JZ should try that. Continue reading

The 2010 Flux Trend Review

#183. Plan ahead. The annual Flux Trend Review is a collection of essays brought together by Dion Chang, to put words to the “state we are in”. This year’s edition (the third) is from an eclectic mix of viewpoints on mostly everything under the formerly cloud-laden sky, from our relationship with technology and the social web to our overwhelming desire to slow things down, from the anticipated real impact of the soccer world cup to the world become undone by the global recession.There are big questions asked and answers given on everything from our health to the labels we covet.

Flux Trend Review Cover 2010

There’s talk of the power of word of mouse and lots about what’s shaking up the old media business (Irwin Manoim) and even an essay on how the rainbow nation hasn’t ended with a pot of gold by Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya. I liked the cute piece on soccer players eclipsing rock stars as the new celebrities and the idea that as the world reels from massive retrenchments and job losses there is a trend towards reassessing our working lives and re-crafting them to be less of a wage slave cliche.

So that’s the state we are in and you have to humour a trend consultancy that labels itself Flux. At this point I should disclose that I had a small hand in the book (as a copy-editor on the project). But it’s not for this reason that I am planning on attending the Conference this week (it’s my consolation for not making it to Cape Town’s Design Indaba). It’s an opportunity to have the bones thrown on what the future just might look like.

It all happens on Thursday (February 25) at the University of Johannesburg theatre in Auckland Park and the lineup includes City Press Editor Ferial Haffajee on the state of our nation (If all I know about Ms Haffajee is true then the nation would have got a better deal had they had saved their TV time for her instead of tuning into the more”official” S O N last week) and the “Green Bishop” Geoff Davies on the state of the planet. There is also Mokena Makeka, creative director and MD of Makeka Designs on the topic of “Urban Spaces for Modern Tribes” (he’s also in style bible Visi this month) and Sylvester Chauke, Marketing Manager of one of SA’s cheekiest brands, Nandos SA. There’s something on wellness in the 21st century and lots about living a digital life.

There’s even a bit of poetic license as corporate poet Lebo Mashile rounds off the proceedings. Definitely something to do in Joburg this week. For more or to book a ticket go to http://www.fluxtrends.co.za/

Soweto's fashion set

#148. Head to Joburg’s chic-est new 5-star hotel for the announcement of the winners of the Sanlam Fashion Journalism Awards.  Last week I had a chance to pop into the very exclusive-looking The Monarch Hotel on Oxford Road, a rumoured R64-million refurbishment of the old post office building. (I have an appointment to go back and get the inside story).

I was there to attend the awards — of which I was a judge, together with City Press Editor-in-Chief Ferial Haffajee, Radio 702 talkshow host Jenny Cryws-Williams and Kassie Naidoo, creative director at King James. Fashion commentator and trends analyst Dion Chang was the convenor. And the winners were…. in the fashion editing category Business Day Wanted’s Jenny Andrew for a feature called “Paper Dolls” — an exquisite spread created together with paper sculptor Hazel Buchan, an interpretation of fashion as art to mark the Joburg Art Fair — and for fashion writing, Millisuthando Bongela’s Street Smarties which was published in Elle magazine. They had some tough competition from the likes of  Sharon Becker, Mary Corrigall and Leigh Robertson.

Paper Dolls by Jenny Andrew

Paper Dolls by Jenny Andrew

Reading Millisuthando Bongela’s piece about the “street smarties” — brown on the inside and all colours on the outside — was  like unwrapping a shiny little treat. It’s a piece about a youth subculture who define themselves by the colourful gear they wear.

Their muse is vibrancy, their chronicler is photographer Lolo Veleko (who no suprises here is big in Japan and New York where they have a depth of appreciation for sartorial flourishes).

Bongela was the first to put her finger on that pulse in the popular press and to document what is a very interesting street-fashion movement not confined only to Soweto.

“In South Africa 15 years ago, a black person was identified by his language, the music he listened to or his level of political consciousness — or lack thereof. It would be wrong to say all black people dressed the same, but perhaps safe to say that if you were black, you mostly didn’t have time to worry about how you looked.”

“We have the freedom to look like this beacuse our parents struggled for us to be whoever we want to be,” Bongela quotes 22-year-old Kepi Mngomezulu.

“Dion Chang calls them ‘Joburg’s cool young things’.”

“These are people in charge of at least their sartorial destinies,” said the Village Voice. They called Veleko’s photographs of the fashion set “an antidote to the prevailing view of the ‘dark continent’ as a place of entropy and despair” ( Luckily it takes more than a Village to reflect the world we live in). Continue reading

A local Obama?

#80. Wonder whether SA can produce an Obama. Last night I was  at University of Johannesburg listening to a panel discussion convened by The Weekender on the topic: “Can SA produce its own Obama?” The premise for the discussion was: “In the USA the system was able to produce – against all odds, defying conventional wisdom, unsupported by the party machinery and despite deeply rooted racial discrimination [sic] – a new kind of leader. Barack Obama was elected because of his values, his message and his charisma. Could our electoral system produce the “right” leader?”.

Adam Habib, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the university and panel host took on the role of  “devil’s” advocate (and I am not for a minute suggesting he was pretending to be Michael Hulley) Continue reading