The blue-haired singer has performed as a member of Damon Albarn's Africa Express and on Beyoncé's visual album Black Is King. Her future ghetto funk and focus on body positivity and female sexual empowerment make her one of the most buzzed-about performers. Her latest single, "Bashiri" (Transgressive Records), is out now.
The Musician: Moonchild Sanelly
What's music like right now in South Africa?
It's all dance dominated. The newest genre is Amapiano, which has followed Gqom, a raw electronic music style that emerged from Durban, and with it the aim is to flex, not sweat. It's as if producers took Kwaito, a hip-hop-like phenomenon from 25 years ago, and remade it for today. It's cool, slow, and bouncy. Gqom is still there too, of course, its hyped and energetic sound now conquering the world. South Africa is known for producing completely new sounds and inventing whole genres—ask any big dance producer.
What tunes do you have on rotation?
I'm listening to a lot of Yanga Chief—he raps in Xhosa, a Bantu language. Also Sha Sha, who collaborates with DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small with vocals on Amapiano beats. Stiff Pap are an awesome duo from Cape Town fusing elements of Kwaito, Gqom, house, and hip-hop to create something original, and Darkie Fiction, a Johannesburg duo drawing influences from Kwaito, Afro-funk, neo-soul, and hip-hop. Their recent EP, Endaweni, is incredible.
Where are your top places to catch live acts?
Kitcheners in Braamfontein, a Johannesburg suburb, is so vibe-y and fresh. It kind of looks like a weird old English pub, but the sounds are brand new—an essential pit stop on a night out. And Zone 6 Venue, a huge former warehouse space turned club in Soweto, is great.
The Designer: Sindiso Khumalo
A sustainable-textile champion and a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize, the rising fashion star roots her pieces in powerful, history-conscious storytelling.
How would you describe your label?
We focus on unveiling the lives of women of color. My most recent collection is based on Sara Forbes Bonetta, a Yoruba princess who was sold into slavery in the mid-1800s, then later freed, taken to England, and adopted as a goddaughter by Queen Victoria. It's an ode to African folk tales, executed in handmade prints. As a young Black woman living with freedoms that were not afforded to my mother and grandmother, I feel a responsibility to tell these stories.
Who are other South African creatives you admire?
Thebe Magugu, who won the LVMH Prize last year. As a community we were gunning for him—Thebe's win was our win. Other names include Lukhanyo Mdingi, who debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2019; award-winning fashion and product designer Rich Mnisi; and knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo, of Maxhosa. I also love Githan Coopoo's sculptural ceramic jewelry and milliner Crystal Birch.
Which are your favorite Cape Town shops?
AKJP Studio is a concept store from creative duo Keith Henning and Jody Paulsen that stocks their own label in addition to 32 South African designers. And Glitterati vintage clothing in the Long Street Antique Arcade is packed with pieces from the 1950s to the '80s.
The Curator: Khanyisile Mbongwa
The award-winning artist and sociologist, who was appointed to oversee the inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale last year, defines her role as curing and caring.
What's the South African scene like at the moment?
The rise of African biennials and artist-run spaces has shifted how the global community engages with us. South Africa is positioning itself, interestingly, via private organizations that serve the public: Norval Foundation and Zeitz MOCAA are among newer museums, Maitland Institute and the Centre for the Less Good Idea are artist-driven, while the likes of Investec Cape Town Art Fair are more commercial. But all of this is informed by amazing South African artists, such as Sethembile Msezane and Mary Sibande.
What part does art play in the conversation on bigger issues?
I don't remember a time when it wasn't reflecting and responding. From the '50s Drum magazine era to the famous photograph by Sam Nzima of schoolboy Hector Pieterson, killed in the 1976 Soweto uprising; from the material documenting the freedom struggle at Mayibuye Archives to the work of queer and womxn creatives Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi and Zanele Muholi, art provides us with alternative perspectives and fortifies us.
Which emerging talents are you most excited about?
Those who exhibited in “On the Cusp” at the Stellenbosch Triennale, and twin sisters Noncedo and Nonzuzo Gxekwa—their conceptual and street-style photography seeks to project uthando (“love”) and nobuntu (“kindness”) back to their subject. Also, Asemahle Ntlonti, who magnifies objects to zoom into Black people's lived experiences.
“Iinyanga Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook): Athi-Patra Ruga,” curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa, runs at Norval Foundation through July 26, 2021.
The Chef: Katlego Mlambo
This rising kitchen star, who heads up hot spot the Marabi Club in Joburg's Maboneng district, scooped up South Africa's coveted Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star award last year and has cooked for President Obama.
Tell us about the South African food scene.
It's booming and evolving—I think a lot of chefs here have realized life is too short to be serving mediocre plates. My own style of cooking is aggressive, with savage flavors. A lot of different things influence me, from music or a movie to the woman who's selling street food on the corner. I want to change the world one plate at a time.
What's your signature dish?
My 12-hour braised beef tongue with smoked-parsnip purée and pickled mustard seeds. I grew up eating tongue, and the recipe is very nostalgic for me.
Where are some of the country's best places to eat?
I'm a fan of La Boqueria in Johannesburg—the tapas selection and cocktails are phenomenal. In Cape Town my go-to is the Pot Luck Club: delicious food and beautiful views. And Clarke's on Bree Street has a lush burger that always puts a smile on my face.
Any other Johannesburg addresses to know?
If I'm looking for a late-night hangout after service, I'll head to Sin + Tax bar, A Streetbar Named Desire, or the 999 rooftop bar at Hallmark House hotel. I'm a big fan of charity shops: Thrift Vintage Clothes, Junkie Charity Store, and Reminiscene—it's crazy how much cool stuff you can get for close to nothing. Or for old-school-style fresh gear, one of the many hole-in-the-wall places in Melville. For LPs, you'll find me in Afrosynth Records and Mr Vinyl.
The Architect: Sumayya Vally
Her all-female studio, Counterspace, is the youngest team ever commissioned to design the annual summer Serpentine Pavilion in London, set to open next year.
How would you describe your philosophy?
We are deeply inspired by Johannesburg. Our aim is to find and create design languages from and for Africa. I'm particularly interested in issues of identity, migration, and territory, and how these translate into form. I approached the Serpentine Pavilion with the same ethos—looking for inspiration in the fabric of the U.K. capital and the people in it.
Who and what is exciting you on the creative scene right now?
Everything about Johannesburg—its rogue systems and practices, the rituals of the people despite immense challenges, the restrictions, which are a call to arms. In terms of artists, I love what Mikhael Subotzky does working across film installation, video, photography, collage, and painting. Also Cape Town-based visual artists (and twin brothers) Hasan and Husain Essop, and Igshaan Adams, who explores the intersections of personal identity with race, religion, and sexuality.
Any other local tips?
Circa Gallery, the Kerk Street Mosque, and Diagonal Street for the architecture. For shopping, my go-to jewelry brands are Pichulik and Waif, and The Ninevites for textiles. Some of my favorite spaces are The Commune, a bookstore, café, and reference library; and chef Sanza Sandile's pan-African Yeoville Dinner Club. I also like to watch the sunset from the mine dumps you find around the city.
A look at South Africa's cultural scene
These images are taken from South Africa, A Road Trip by Mirjam Bleeker and Frank Visser, published by Uitgeverij Luster.
Original article appeared on Condé Nast Traveler | Author Fiona Kerr