iMag 100: Thando Hopa, HHP and Bonang Matheba

2013-10-10 11:00

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iMagazine celebrates South Africa’s most interesting people. We catch up with three of our most popular cover stars to see what they’ve been up to since gracing our cover.

Thando Hopa: Fashion’s new colour

Thando Hopa

Thando Hopa turned heads with her debut at SA Fashion Week in 2012. As one of about 4 000 black people with albinism in South Africa, she’s delighted about the unexpected opportunity to show the positive and beautiful side of albinism to the fashion world.

But despite the attention that has come with being a model, Thando remains focused on her career at the National Prosecuting Authority as a prosecutor, saying her main focus hasn’t changed, it’s just had a bit of colour sprinkled on it.

THEN As fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee says of his new muse, ‘She walked past me in Cresta shopping centre in Joburg and I just had to introduce myself. Thando has such presence and she’s so striking that she immediately made an impact on me.’

The designer says that his new model represents the opposite of colour. ‘I felt that combining her looks and personality with fashion was a very exciting prospect.’

Before being approached by Gert-Johan, she was dead set on being one of the best prosecutors in the country and making sure that justice was served.

She’s still pursuing that dream, but now she’s standing up for other people who look like her – on the ramp.

‘When I realised that Gert-Johan and I had the same vision about creating awareness for albinism, I was convinced that it was something I just had to do.’

This is only the beginning for Thando – a lot of work still needs to be done to make people more aware of albinism, and to eradicate the stigma.

‘I see a lot of young children with albinism and they have bad skin. It’s is a huge contributing factor to confidence. If they have good skin, they will have less to worry about.’

NOW Thando continues to turn heads.

‘I still do modelling work with Gert-Johan and I still enjoy it. In April I modelled his clothes at SA Fashion Week where he incorporated the SHOUT anti-crime campaign into his designs. I loved that show because as a prosecutor, that campaign resonated with my belief system,’ she says. After Thando made her debut in the world of fashion, the media, both local and international, wanted to know more about her. ‘I have done some fascinating interviews with Al Jazeera, UK Grazia and The Guardian. What I enjoyed most was speaking on local platforms and educating people about albinism. Making a difference is the reason I am here.’ HHP goes continental HHP HHP seems like random letters to those who aren’t in the know, but in most places in South Africa the letters HHP represents a star whose talent and impact is undeniable. He has been on many magazine covers but when he was on ours, it wasn’t for his music but for a cause he believes in.

THEN Rap artist Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP), known for his motswako (meaning ‘mixture’ in Setswana) music and hot lyrics, is not the most likely Scrabble player.

But for the past four years, the award-winning musician has been rounding up fellow celebrities to participate in annual Scrabble tournaments in aid of child literacy and education. The proceeds go to Active Learning Libraries South Africa.

Jabulani Tsambo explains that his son, Leano Laone (8) has a learning disability, but has improved because of the support he gets at his remedial school.

‘There are many other children who don’t get that support, and reach high school without knowing how to put together a simple puzzle,’ he says. ‘Those children need our help and the mobile Active Learning Libraries are able to reach those remote communities.’

These units travel as far afield as Ntabankulu in the Eastern Cape and Upington in the Northern Cape and are stocked with educational toys, such as blocks, playing cards, musical instruments and domino-type games, that help develop observation, listening and literacy skills.

‘My parents introduced me to Scrabble when I was about 10,’ Jabulani says.

‘They played every Sunday after lunch and I was the official scorer.’ He says it was a pleasure to adopt the project.

‘I’ve always loved using words and I’m also very passionate about encouraging kids to learn and improve on their motor skills and muscle tone.’

Each year, HHP gets his famous friends to challenge corporates to participate in the tournament. Fellow enthusiasts have included musicians Slikour and Shuga Smax, ProVerb, hip-hop crew Obita, Jo Da Silva of 7de Laan and 5FM DJ Jon Savage.

NOW The desire to help out hasn’t changed for HHP and this year he decided to take it even further. The rapper took on the challenge of walking from Johannesburg to Kenya in order to raise awareness about unifying Africa.

The campaign, which was named Daraja Walk, from the Swahili word meaning ‘bridge’. One of the aims of the walk was to be the one of the bridges that unites Africa and HHP went to SA, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya on his quest.

The idea for the walk was multi-layered, says HHP.

‘One reason was finding time to rediscover myself and my lineage. The other was to try be in the forefront of actively paving the way towards an African music industry and community. And another was genuinely wanting to know what lies beyond our borders and experiencing it as a fly on the wall. The intention was to become part of the African pulse.’

The walk was initially supposed to raise funds with the help of corporates to help students with scholarships focused on African Studies & International Relations.

‘Perhaps it was bad timing, but we didn’t get the backing we’d hoped for. It was only my DJ, Zondi Chakane and I, who were going to do the walk. We decided to rather make the walk about asking people to help us reach our destination, Kenya... put the theory of ubuntu to the test,’ he says.

In total, HHP walked 476km, with the rest of the trip including local bus and taxi rides and he learnt a great deal during that journey. ‘It taught me personally that God exists, mind over matter is possible and ubuntu is real.’

Bonang Matheba: Queen Bee!

Bonang Matheba

When she graced our cover, looking fresh, quirky and playful, she was on the verge of presenting a new show, The Link, on SABC1.

A lot has changed for Bonang since then. Before The Link even aired, Bonang was reportedly fired from the show for not disclosing that she was also working on musical reality show Clash of the Choirs on Mzansi Magic.

THEN She’s only 25, but Bonang has already achieved more than most people will in their lifetime.

She’s had a clothing deal with Legit, where she had her own ‘Miss B’ line, launched her own handbag collection called Baby Star, started her own production company, Bonang Matheba Entertainment, and created a fragrance called Just B, which will be launched in December – it’s all about being in control and making her brand work for her.

‘I’d rather focus on creating things that will strengthen my own brand rather than being a brand whore, endorsing every product in the world and abiding by everyone’s rules,’ she says.

Bonang also serves as an ambassador for the ‘Carry Yourself with Confidence’ campaign with Lifestyle SA and the Nelson Mandela International Day, and offers monthly mentoring sessions and empowering motivational talks to young women across the country.

She has also aligned herself with brands like Gert-Johan Coetzee, Brutal Fruit and Diva Divine. The talented youngster graciously credits her team – brand manager, sponsorship manager, personal manager and publicist – for her extraordinary success.

‘They treat me like a proper product, a brand,’ she says.

Despite her bubbly, party-girl image, Bonang is an astute businesswoman.

‘I’m not going to be this fabulous Bonang for another 20 years,’ she says. ‘I think what I’m doing probably has another three or four years – then it will all dwindle and it will be someone else’s turn.’

For Bonang, the best is yet to come. ‘There’s still a lot to do. I still have a talk show to do, a talent agency to open, make other people’s dreams come true, I still have a lot of CSI projects I need to do, be on a national radio station, make Baby Star the biggest brand.’

NOW Continuing in the spirit of giving everything she does 4 000 percent, Bonang didn’t let one setback stop her quest to dominate the entertainment industry.

She did a stellar job on Clash of the Choirs, showing off her range and ability to relate to all types of people in all types of settings.

And to prove that she has a crossover appeal that is bigger than any one station, by December 2012 Bonang was announced as a new Top Billing presenter.

She’s since worked as a judge on the MTV Base VJ Search and kept her 27 000 Instagram followers up to date with her crazy life.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bonang was named as one of Revlon’s ambassadors, the first outside of the US – no small feat and another victory for Bonang – and billboards of her face are plastered all over the country.

What’s to come from Queen B*? We don’t know but there’s no doubt that it will be big, bold and dazzling, just like her.

» Get your copy of iMag in City Press on Sundays

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