Centre for Creative Arts Director on Mail & Guardian’s Top Young South Africans List
UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) Director Mr David wa Maahlamela has been named by the Mail & Guardian newspaper on its 200 Young South Africans list in the Film and Media category.
The list puts the spotlight on young stars who are shaping the country’s future.
Maahlamela dedicated the recognition to the hard work the entire CCA team puts in towards the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).
‘Accolades can sometimes be overrated since they often emphasise the end results exclusive of circumstance. It is for that reason I rely a lot on my personal monitoring indicators. External recognition is secondary,’ said Maahlamela.
‘The work of the CCA, for instance, cannot be judged without contextualising its staff complement and quantity of activities. Over and above, I am grateful that the external world is able to notice the unseen hours the CCA team under my leadership contributes to the media and film industry.’
This is Maahlamela’s second appearance on the list and he is thrilled to be featured under the Film and Media category for 2017. ‘I believe it is not much about me as the practitioner but rather the platform DIFF creates, and its contribution to the industry at large.
‘I have participated in large platforms such as Berlinale (Germany) and Cannes (France) simply because I head this great institution named DIFF,’ he added.
Of his support network, Maahlamela said: ‘I am fortunate to have such a supportive family. My mother was actually in town a weekend before the list was announced, and she was celebrating it already together with her 70th birthday. My siblings have been full of compliments. At work, most of those who know me have already conveyed their congratulations.’
Maahleamela is currently completing his PhD research on kiba poetry within the Zion Christian Church, exploring works of poets such as Petrus Molelemane and Johannes Mohlala.
Maahlamela, who hails from Limpopo, matriculated at the age of 16 but was unable to study further due to financial constraints, immersing himself wholly and highly successfully in literature for a year. He holds an MA in Creative Writing (cum laude) from Rhodes University.
In 2012, he was funded by the University of Columbia in the United States to pursue editing and graphic design studies at the Seagull School of Publishing in Calcutta, India. Maahlamela completed the Public Management and Governance segment under the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Programme.
As the co-founder of the Polokwane Literature Festival, Maahlamela served as a non-executive Director of the National Arts Council, and the National English Literature Museum where he chaired various sub-committees.
He has written four award-winning books, including the acclaimed poetry anthology, Tša Borala.
The recipient of the PanSALB Multilingualism Award and the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Award, he has appeared on Muvhango and the Voice of Africa TV series.
The former Johannesburg Institute of Advance Study Writing Fellow has had his literary works published in more than 50 literary journals and anthologies.
With more than 20 years’ experience as a professional creative practitioner, a lot of Maahlamela’s time has been dedicated to rural development. John Ruganda, a Ugandan playwright and editor of TurfWRITE, played a pivotal role in Maahlamela’s life when he was a teenager.
Ruganda ran what was the largest arts, culture and heritage festival in Limpopo at the time. ‘Ruganda taught me to speak less and let my deeds be my ultimate advocate,’ says Maahlamela. He aims to use the creative industry to unite Africa and exhibit internationally.
Words by: Melissa Mungroo firstname.lastname@example.org
Photograph by Albert Hirasen