1. Emma Dabiri, @emmadabiri

What: Scholar, commentator, TV broadcaster and author

Why? Dabiri is an Irish-Nigerian social commentator who bridges the divide between the highbrow world of academia and everyday life. Her insightful and informed contributions on social media during the BLM movement facilitated a larger awareness of the issues of systemic racism that plague our society on a platform that most of us use everyday. Her book, Don’t Touch my Hair, examines the politics of African hair in a pre- and post-colonial context and is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand why identity and hair are so intimately intertwined.

2. Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, @drtlaleng

What: Medical doctor, activist, author and special rapporteur to the UN.

Why: Tlaleng regularly publishes blogs and radio segments on female reproductive health and is especially interested in the medical challenges and stigmas faced by women in Africa. She speaks and writes often on the effect of HIV/AIDS on women, and is part of the fight to ensure equal access to quality healthcare throughout the continent for underprivileged and disadvantaged communities.

3. Ofentse Pitse, @ofentse_pitse

What: Owner and conductor of Anchored Sound

Why: Granddaughter of renowned SA jazz conductor Otto Pitse, Ofentse Pitse smashed through barriers as she became the first ever and youngest black female to own and conduct her own orchestra. Anchored Sound, a nonprofit 45-piece local orchestra and 30 member choir group, was co-founded by Pitse and its members are a selection of some of the best young musical talent from Katlehong, Tembisa and surrounds.

Pitse has been thrust into the limelight and is often a guest on local radio shows and podcasts. “I’m a believer in the black narrative and a believer in the black child” says Pitse, who excels at the English Horn despite receiving no formal classical musical training.

4. Solomon Omogboye, @solomon_omogboye_studio

What: Visual artist

Why: Nigerian-born but living in SA and practicing out of Joburg, Solomon Omogboye is a visual artist that you need to keep an eye on this year. Using charcoal, a palette knife and expressive colour, Omogboye creates large-scale portraits and landscapes that are an extension of his personal perspective of the world.

We all need a bit of upliftment and inspiration for 2021 and Omogboye’s contemplative yet energetic paintings vibrate with palpable energy. His silently powerful dancing ballerinas almost jump off the paper and into the room as he catches them in poses that express a pent-up kinetic energy.

5. Su-yen Thornhill, @chez_fong

What: Chef and hostess

Why: Su-yen is no stranger to Joburg gastronomes. She runs a pop-up restaurant from her home in Houghton, and her dinners are always booked up weeks in advance. Her food is an extension of her personality: bright, vibrant, eclectic, bursting with flavor and colour — and you’ll never be served the same menu twice.

The magic of the experience lies in being able to watch her work as she prepares the dishes in front of you in her kitchen, effortlessly combining tastes, textures and tones to create culinary masterpieces that challenge your palate. To dine with Su-yen is to appreciate the cultural importance of eating while getting a glimpse of the influences that have shaped the way she cooks.

Her first lunch of the near year is planned for the end of January so book now.

6. Ngoni Mtizwa, @in2winesa

What: Certified sommelier: Court of Master sommeliers Europe, Singita Sabi Sands Sommelier.

Why: Ngoni Mtizwa is part of a wave of fresh young local talent that is sweeping through South Africa’s wine world, and a casual scroll through his Instagram reads as a veritable who’s who of the best vintages that SA is currently producing. A sponsorship at the Cape Wine Academy gave rise to Mtizwa’s passion for all things viticulture, and his impeccable nose will sniff out the best wine pairings for any food occasion.

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