The Darling Exceptional Women Awards 2018
The Darling Exceptional Women Awards took place on 20 September 2018 at an elegant, intimate luncheon at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel. Hosted by actress Matshepo Maleme, the awards celebrated the achievements of five exceptional women in the entertainment industry, and featured a live performance by Sho Madjozi. Guests also had the opportunity to experience a manicure by Candy & Co before the event.
“The Darling Exceptional Women Awards is a platform that recognises excellence in women, not only in the entertainment industry, but also the Mothers, Sisters, Daughters to whom they owe their crown,” said Maleme, by way of introduction. Many
of the winners paid tribute to the strong women who had supported and inspired them
– family, friends and those who had led the way.
The awards recognised Best Newcomer, Social Media Influencer, Best Actress and Best Musician, and a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to entertainment legend
Thembi Mtshali. Actress Lorraine Engling presented the Newcomer Award to Kwezi Ndlovu, who got her first break on the telenovela Isithembiso and stars in the TV series The Herd.
Ndlovu thanked Bomb Productions for “giving me the platform and opportunity to be who I am today, and Darling for acknowledging my achievement”.
TV Personality Farieda Metsileng won the Social Media Influencer award, presented by Londeka Mchunu who described her as “easy to love and hard to forget”. Metsileng is
an actress, voice artist and production manager, who has appeared in 4Play: Sex Tips for Girls; Ses’Top La; My Perfect Family, and as Kandy in Isithembiso. She has an
extensive presence on YouTube and other social media platforms under the handle Pharoahfi.
Zimkhitha Nyoka won the Best Actress Award. Kamogelo Modisakeng presented the young actress with her award, describing her work as “greatly influenced by her rural background and having a deeper understanding of self and rootedness.” Nyoka has
starred in multiple television series including Mutual Friends, Gold Diggers, Isithembiso, Ngempela, Nkululeko, and the Akin Omotoso-directed film Vaya. “Acting is such a humbling activity – you get to see people, you get to know people,” she
said. “You can’t look at anyone and think you’re better. I’m honoured to have received an award that celebrates me as a performer.
With Darling we get to be ourselves, we get to be anyone we want to be.” The energy in the room increased as Sho Madjozi entered to receive her award for Musician of the Year. “She’s the ultimate carefree black girl, she’s constantly
referred to as a breath of fresh air and everything she touches turns into gold, “said Ziya Zulu, who presented Madjozi with her Darling Exceptional Women Award.”She’s completely unintimidated, and the young star has been producing hit after
hit after hit. It’s no surprise that different brands and big labels want to collaborate with her and gain her attention.”
Madjozi headlined at the first ever AfroPunk festival, and has been selected to perform at the social justice music event Global Warrior, both in South Africa and in the U.S. She has spoken at TED Talks and at Facebook headquarters, and in 2015
worked on a presidential campaign in Tanzania. She is also the youngest person ever to receive a writing fellowship from the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies.
Madjozi was born Maya Wegerif in Shirley Village in Limpopo.
“Her humble and rural beginnings are the root of her artistry, but she’s also a global citizen,” said Xulu. “Madjozi is waking South Africa up and inspiring the youth with something
they’ve never ever heard before. She introduced herself to the world as a Tsonga rapper – this alone has been a feat, as Xitsonga is a minority language that isn’t often celebrated in mainstream society. Her rise to stardom has shone new light on
the ethnic group and encouraged many Tsonga people to regain pride in their heritage”. Madjozi dedicated her Darling Exceptional Women Award to “all the crazy, sometimes
unlovable, stubborn women who came. before me, my own lineage. Thank you for passing down that stubbornness, so that I didn’t listen when people said, ‘no one wants to hear a Tsonga rapper’. I’m so grateful for that stubbornness.”
She encouraged South Africans to set their sights on succeeding not only locally but internationally. “Go global! Everyone’s looking at us to steal our style and our uSwenka, and it’s time that we were also central to that,” said Madjozi. “African
artists need to learn better than to let others get rich off of our creativity, our talent and our cultures.”
Madjozi also inspired the audience by saying that although this was her first ever award, it would be “the first of many, because we’re just getting started. For Shirley Village, for Limpopo province, for South Africa, for Africa, for black girl
magic worldwide – we’re taking this thing straight to the top!”
At the height of the event, Darling spokeswomen Portia Masiyiwa presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Thembi Mtshali. “Darling believes in empowering women, which is
the reason we are celebrating those who are doing exceptionally well in their respective fields and arenas,” said Masiyiwa. “It is an honour for me today to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to a remarkable woman, with over forty years of
experience in the entertainment industry.” Masiyiwa listed some of the highlights of Mtshali’s long and distinguished career as
an actress, singer and playwright, including performing with fellow greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Sipho Gumede and Abdullah Ibrahim; releasing her four albums; and her rich and varied work in film, television and
theatre – including international breakthroughs such as Umabatha and Ipintombi.
“Thank you to all the organisers of this special event, thank you Darling, for recognising your comrade. I also want to congratulate all the awardees. Congratulations! Keep it up. The girls are doing it!” said Mtshali when she took to
the podium. Mtshali started out by remembering the challenge of the past. “It goes without saying that apartheid extinguished the dreams of many black youth of my era”, she continued. “Some fought against an unjust system and others fought another act of resistance using their gifts, even when it seemed impossible. Today, the youth face other forms of oppression; but I want them to know that their dreams are on the
horizon.” Mtshali also took time to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the women who take on domestic work to support their families. “If I could show you a timeline of my life,
you would see numerous awards received both locally and overseas; but you would also see that I was once a domestic worker,” she said. “If you are a mother, domestic
work is a sacrifice, because you leave your family behind to take care of another.
This doesn’t take away from other working mothers who miss out on their children’s lives; but in South Africa, domestic work is also a means of survival. Today, many of our black women who have the potential to be award winning performers or doctors,
are shackled to a profession because their family must survive. I salute you.”
“It’s a great honour and privilege to be recognised with this award, especially in the year when we said goodbye to our mother of the nation, Mama Winnie Madikizela
Mandela, and also to a friend, my brother Hugh Masekela who was very instrumental in moulding my career when I was living in the United States,” she said. “Like him I wish to be there for many more young artists who feel like they need growing. Last
year, I unexpectedly said farewell to my great friend and collaborator Joe Mafela. The contribution he made to our industry, and my career will never be forgotten.”
“I thank God for giving me strength to continue, my lovely family and friends who are always there, cheering, my fans – without them I wouldn’t have a job! – and my
colleagues who have been with me on different stages, in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” concluded Mtshali. “I am who I am because of the people who have walked this journey with me. I want to say ‘thank you’ to all of them. Thank you!”