Mzansi, meet the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners

The 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist Awardees. Picture: Supplied

The 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist Awardees. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 30, 2022


On Tuesday, November 29, the arts community, family and friends gathered at the Inanda Club in Sandton to celebrate the artistic and creative flair of some of Mzansi’s young creatives.

From spoken word to incredible body movement through the art of dance, to music, arts and theatre, these local stars were bestowed with the highest honour in the industry as they were announced as the winners of the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award.

And the winners are: Lady Skollie (Visual Arts), Koleka Putuma (Poetry), Msaki (Music) Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Billy Langa (Theatre Duo), Sylvester Thamsanqa Majela (Dance) and Linda Sikhakhane (Jazz).

This group of artists from diverse fields represent a generation of South Africans who have given their all to a career in the arts.

Their work has already been recognised for its innovation, beauty and authenticity.

The winners will be given the opportunity to showcase their works at the 2023 National Arts Festival, with substantial financial support provided through Standard Bank’s sponsorship.

“The 2022 Standard Bank Artists are a cutting-edge and diverse group of creatives that are defining the South African cultural moment. We look forward to their fresh perspectives and original performances at the 2023 National Arts Festival,” said National Arts Festival (NAF) CEO, Monica Newton.

“The awards have made it possible for hundreds of artists to be part of the NAF over the last 41 years and to take their careers to new heights. We would like to thank our partners, Standard Bank, for their ongoing commitment to the arts in South Africa.”

Msaki. Picture: Themba Mokase

During her acceptance speech, Msaki thanked Standard Bank and NAF for the recognition of her talent, saying this award is the biggest highlight of her career.

“I can’t help but think of my first few years going to the National Arts Festival. I still can see my sweater with balloons and the Standard Bank logo on it. I was 6 years old. And I remember the taste of the candy floss. I remember the smell of the Monument.”

She said although she studied law, she always found herself gravitating towards the creative space.

“I followed a few paths where I thought I was doing something more important. I pursued a career in law. I looked up to my dad, who was a lawyer, but actually, he was a songwriter.

“He was busy writing songs about us in the kitchen and I knew that there was something about the arts and I knew that I was a student of creativity from a young age.

“I want to thank Standard Bank. I want to thank the NAF for showing me a real dream. I also want to thank the space for understanding that my message needs to dissolve in so many different spaces.

“Thank you for being open-minded and understanding that my willingness to dissolve is just the result of my passion and my devotion, and that all I am here as a vessel, and thank you for showing me that there are many people that think like me and putting me in this incredible company.

“This is one award that means something to me,” added Msaki.

Koleka Putuma. Picture: Themba Mokase

Echoing Msaki’s sentiments, celebrated poet Koleka Putuma, whose category is introduced for the first time this year, also expressed her gratitude for giving recognition to poetry.

“Thank you to Standard Bank and the NAF for recognising and honouring not only me and my practice but also the discipline and the magic that is poetry.

"Often when corporate meets poetry and other artists in practice, it is treated as an afterthought, a filler, or a thing in the background. Often given very little care, imagination, recognition and value,” said Putuma.

"It is truly a blessing and a gift to receive flowers here at home. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”

Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Billy Langa. Picture: Themba Mokase

Duo winners Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Billy Langa celebrated their bromance and their passion for the arts.

“Our families are supportive and for that, I am grateful, and outside of that family, I have found a brother. And I am truly grateful to walk this journey with you. I don’t know where I would be right now if it weren’t for you,” said Mokgonyana.

Langa also took to the stage to thank his partner: “There was a time, a very critical moment for us. We were going to Namibia to perform. This was our first trip together as a duo and things didn’t look good … there was no budget.

“We were probably going to sleep under the bridge trying to pursue this dream.”

Linda Sikhakhane. Picture: Themba Mokase

For Linda Sikhakhane, being a recipient of the this award is a dream come true.

“In 2007, I made my way to Grahamstown with the help of Dr Brian Thusi, where I met a lot of my friends in the world of jazz.

“At that point, one was not thinking about how the world would be in the future. But to see myself right now here as part of such a great lineage of important people that are contributing in some way to make this world a better place, through their talents, is a great honour,” said Sikhakhane

“I’m grateful for such a great opportunity, understanding how prestigious this award is. And I think this is one really important award.”

Lady Skollie. Picture: Themba Mokase

According to Lady Skollie this award is “long overdue”.

“Thank you Standard Bank for making the right decision, because to be very honest, I was about three months away from starting a ‘Standard Bank Must Fall’ kind of petition,” she chuckled.

“Art has always been there for me, even though I would pretend that my moral compass would make me a good person for other things, but art never rejected me.

“She’d always find me again and again, even when I’m in the darkest hole. Art would always be there for me.

“I always count on art. She never disappoints me. My advice for other artists would be to always look in the mirror because that’s where you can reflect on your life.”

Thamsanqa Majela. Picture: Themba Mokase

Thamsanqa Majela couldn’t thank his family enough, particularly his mother for her unwavering support.

He also expressed his gratitude to Standard Bank for its continued support of the creative industry.

“Thank you Standard Bank for acknowledging us as creatives. I think being creative is not easy. It shouldn’t be easy. If you want to create something beautiful, you need to go through the ugly.

“And it’s one journey that I have been through. I’m sure all the other people can also attest to this. But I’m grateful for this recognition, thank you.”