By Vuyo Madyibi
“Every great achiever is inspired by a great mentor.” Lailah Gifty Akita.
These sentiments were echoed in the Tshuma Mo! meeting, where Nokwanda Shabangu, digital content editor, profusely declared her admiration for her mentor in their project, Zanele Mthembu. Mthembu has over 20 years of experience in the film and television industry. Mthembu returned Shabangu’s praises as she complimented her determination, ambition and talent. The two felt a visceral connection as Mthembu’s yearn for mentorship spoke directly to Nokwanda whose name translates to “multiply herself,” thus resulting in a mutual conversation and excitement to begin collaborating.
Nokwanda was insistent on bringing an SABC spirit to the projects. Zanele expressed the exchange of ideas between herself and Nokwanda, mainly with regards to the ICT sector and the need to broadcast and distribute content to communities who don’t have access regularly in an attempt to educate and establish a distribution network.
To do this, they have begun mapping out various Wi-Fi spots in the townships of Gauteng, to understand how best to distribute the filmic content so it has far reaching effects. Subsequently, their primary objective lies in audience development. Thus, Nokwanda’s diploma in IT translates into her passion for open source software and thus the need to make software and film accessible in townships which pertain to this project. Conversations around the business and monetisation of the project has sparked robust conversations amongst the women, who are caught in the balancing act of developing this open filmic space through multi-purpose space as well as being able to generate income sustainably as a business.
The women’s determination is evident in their projects as they embarked on phase one, mapping the sites, and phase two, which speaks to the actual content. The women identify through their alternative screening proposal that infrastructure would be challenging however, remain committed to making use of different spaces to allow for the execution of their vision. Their aim is to create two-day film festivals screening Pan-African which would then have a Q&A session to boost engagement. This plan is structured around Wi-Fi zones to allow for its effective execution.
The project, according to Mthembu and Shabangu, expands on femininity and blackness. As women, they have harboured an empathetic and authentic understanding of all the complex facets of womanhood in the business world from their perspective running this project. Socially, the power it would have on the black narrative is identified by the women. As black people, the need for conscious representation on an African level is still prevalent. The women believe that their project will expand and consciously represent the black narrative to townships. Although they have identified and are troubleshooting ideas around data collection from the municipalities, they are in a state of progression and are ever tenacious.
Overall, the women have found inspiration and success from their collaboration as their working relationship is rooted in mutual admiration and respect. They are thankful to the AHSCE voucher scheme as they believe strongly in harbouring creative entrepreneurship in a higher education setting. They remain passionate and steadfast in their journey to execute their plans of screening films which will educate and empower townships in Gauteng.