Ayanda Thabethe hosts Afrimaxx Season 1 on DStv

Ayanda Thabethe brings Africa to the world

Local 25 August 2022

Ayanda Thabethe brings us African creativity to the max in Afrimaxx – in a celebration of heritage, art and culture

Ayanda Thabethe brings Africa to the world

Dusty musty history is a thing of the past.

As we head into Heritage Month, DStv design series Afrimaxx is showing us how creatives from across the African continent are drawing on their roots and their surroundings as the life blood for shaping not just African, but global culture.

Ayanda Thabethe’s job as Afrimaxx host is to meet with the curators of museums and creative spaces that are both developing new talent, and shaping a more nuanced vision of South African history. We chat to her about where she’s gone, what she’s seen, and how South Africa’s museums are transforming from being silent tombs of history, into vibrant, inspirational spaces. “We are becoming the global Africa in the sense that we are not trying to sell a narrative that Africa is the jungle,” insists Ayanda. “We are saying that we are modern, we are worldly, we take the past as our history, and we entrench that into our design,” she adds.

Watch Afrimaxx Season 1 Mondays at 19:30 on The Home Channel (DStv Channel 176)

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Proudly African, and South African

How did you come into Afrimaxx?

I’d worked on Africa Modern [the 2020 design series] with The Home Channel and they called me for an interview. I think in my own way, I conceptualise what it means to be a modern African. What I love about Afrimaxx is that it showcases the best of what we have creatively in the continent, rather than just our own countries. This all started when COVID was prevalent, and as much as I would love to go to all of Africa and meet all of these amazing creators, I like the fact that our story is being told by the people who live there in their own way.

How did working on this show affect your own African identity?

We in South Africa actually don’t really have a museum going culture. And I know that because I really didn't go to museums as much as I have now, being on the show. Just knowing how much history is preserved has really been an eye-opening experience for me. It has brought me closer to our history, seeing part of our journey as a country, and just to be proud of where that journey has brought us. And this show really connects to the stories that are very close to your own hometown.

Which museums and curated space experiences made a great impression on you?

Today we went to Satyagraha House in Johannesburg, which was the house that Mahatma Gandhi used to live in when he lived in South Africa. It’s especially light-hearted! Some people perform yoga there, and it's such an easy way to consume a museum space. You can stay there [it’s a guest house] and really experience the kind of life that Mahatma lived, as opposed to just going to museums to watch. That was the softer way to approach museum culture. I also visited the Nelson Mandela House, which carries a lot of history. They were able to keep some of Mandela’s writing and really personal items, and each room is a personal representation of who he was. The architecture and design of the space really try to keep the spirit of Mandela alive. I found that to be quite special.

We went to Constitution Hill too, which is a really high level museum because it houses some of the darkest history that we have.

Did you get to speak to the curators at any length?

One of the things that we’re doing differently in this show is that when we’re on location, we make sure to interview the people who are part of the building or the location, whether it’s the architect, design manager, or anyone who really has an in-depth experience of the space. We make sure to explain why it’s important that we should have that space. Look at Constitution Hill, [the design team] took the dark history we have, but they also incorporate a space where creators can thrive within it. They created a studio space for anyone who wants to be an artist or a creative, to be able to have their own offices and to network. You wouldn’t think that Constitution Hill, which has the Number Four prison [for men] and the Women’s Prison, would also be home to Creative Uprising, and hold so much creativity. It really shows that dynamic shift of how we’re shaping our future based on our past.

Tell us about one of the creatives you met and have been impressed by?

During our launch I talked to Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, who took the tradition of brewing from her home and started a beer brewing company. I love the confidence that she’s added because of the tradition that taught her how to do this. Passing down traditions makes an impact.

Watch Afrimaxx Season 1 Mondays at 19:30 on The Home Channel (DStv Channel 176)

The Home Channel (DStv Channel 176) is available on DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Compact, Family and Access. To upgrade your existing package, click here. Or if you'd like to Get DStv, find a service that suits your needs here.

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