Q&A with Samihah Pargas

SAMIHAH PARGAS is a Wits second-year BA Linguistics and Psychology student who independently published her first poetry collection titled Early Mourning Hours at the beginning of 2019. The 19-year-old regularly publishes her poetry on her popular Instagram account, @shadesofherink, where she has amassed over 28 000 followers. She focuses primarily on themes of love, heartbreak, healing and spirituality.

When did you start writing poetry?
I started in Grade 8. I’d always been writing things actually as early as fourth grade. But my first poem I wrote in Grade 8.

What themes do you cover in your poetry?
The things that touch me very deeply. Spirituality, there’s conflict in the world, heartache of course, and love, self-love, acceptance. All things that I’ve experienced in a very intense sense.

Why did you choose the free verse style of writing poetry?
My style of writing differs sometimes. I think the fact that poetry in this day and age seems to not be confounded by any rules whatsoever allows me to feel free to express myself however I wish. I think it’s just the freedom of it, the freedom of the style. That’s why I use it.

Who inspires you and your work?
They’re not always writers; it’s people who pursue their dreams. In terms of writing this book they would be people who never told me that my dreams are too big. And then, in terms of [poetry] writing, my favourite poets are Yrsa Daley-Ward, Nayyirah Waheed, and writers like Arundhati Roy. How they write in such a visceral way, in such a raw way, really, inspires me to not be afraid of putting my truth on a page.

How did you publish a poetry collection at such a young age?
Two and a half years ago I decided I want to one day publish a book and from then on I started compiling [my poetry]. I would never foresee that I would actually end up doing it, so it’s not exactly as if I decided to do it at such a young age. And again, it was never something I told myself I couldn’t do at this age.

What has the reception been to your collection?
Beautiful. So currently, I’m still working on exposure for my book, marketing it, all the really technical aspects of writing a book. But people who have had it, obviously people who do read my work a lot, really appreciate the offering of love that it’s been. And that’s what I want, that’s the whole intention of it. I don’t write so that I may benefit from it but so that it can be received as love and light by other people. And I think that’s how it’s been for everyone who has read it so far.

Where do you want to go with your poetry?
Well, going back to two-and-a-half years ago, I never saw myself with this book in hand. So I can’t say that I do see myself anywhere besides hopefully, pursuing this passion in whichever way has manifested.

Q&A with Ian Mangenga

IAN MANGENGA is a Wits Geography, Archaeology and Environmental alumnus and recently started an organisation for young African women named Digital Girl Africa, to educate women on using digital technology. She is a former chairperson of Rethink Africa at Wits. She is an entreprenuer with the aim of empowering women by redefining the digital landscape of Africa. (more…)

Q&A with Niza Jay Ncoyini

Niza Jay Ncoyini is a Wits BA Dramatic Arts alumnus and is currently an actor, director, writer and filmmaker. The actor appeared in South Africa’s award winning film, Inxeba: The Wound as well as Green Matter and Hello Au Revoir. Born in Mthatha, Eastern Cape as Ndiziphiwe Izicelo Ziviwe Azamkela Ncoyini, the openly queer young black actor seeks to take over the film industry through telling stories in his own way.

What are you currently working on?
I have a starring role in a new South African feature film directed by Louw Venter and produced by Urucu Media, which will be released later this year. I’m also directing my first play While We Hate, which I also wrote. It will run at PopART Theatre in June.

What inspired your career in acting and directing?
Watching Sarafina. When I saw Leleti Khumalo on screen, I knew I wanted to perform and tell stories in the same way that she did. I’ve only been directing for a few years, so I’m really taking time to define my voice and fine tune my perspective. I want to tell stories that encourage people to be better than they are. I also want to tell stories that make all people proud to be whoever they are, because as much as I have a very unique point of view, I do want to create work and tell stories that resonate universally.

Have you always wanted to be an actor/ director?
Yes. I’ve always wanted to be a performer and a storyteller. I believe that creating art is a sacred act. There are very few professionally trained actors who are working in our industry, and it shows. The quality of our films and TV shows is a testament to the quality of writers, directors and actors that we have in the country.

What has been the highlight in your career thus far?
Being nominated for a [South African Film and Television Award] for my first role, and becoming one of the few openly gay black actors to get nominated for a performance role in a film. I was nominated in 2018 for Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film for playing Kwanda, one of the lead characters in Inxeba.

What challenges have you faced as a young black gay actor in the industry?
Very few people are writing complex gay and queer characters which I would be proud to portray, so it makes selecting work really hard. As much as I pride myself in being gay, overtly so, I also resent the idea that because I’m gay I have to play gay characters. I have the know-how and the skills to step in and out of any character.

What advice would you give to youngsters who are trying to get into acting?
Know who you are and know what you stand for. Work on your craft, don’t stop taking acting lessons/coaching, no matter how successful you get. There is always room for improvement. Engage with your industry, both local and international. When you know what is happening, you know what is out there for you to go after.

Q&A with Thokozane Dyosi

Thokozane Dyosi, a PhD student and associate lecturer in the Foundation Phase Studies Department of the Wits Education Campus, is the youngest in her department. Having struggled to graduate, she started a motivation campaign called #SeeYouAtGraduation to encourage higher education students of all ages in all disciplines to push through to the end and graduate.

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Q&A with Marco Zacchino

Marco Zacchino, 25, is a Master of Law graduate from Wits University who is currently doing articles at Allen and Overy. Not only has he balanced doing his masters and his work, but he is also a part-time blogger, a lover of fashion and has a passion for food.

What do you do?
I did a BA at Wits and majored in Law. Following that I did my LLB and have just received confirmation that I have passed my masters last week. I work for a firm in Sandton, currently doing my articles and it has been keeping me busy for the past six months. When I was in varsity, I was very heavily into blogging and now I want to get back into it.

What inspires your blogging?
Predominantly I have just been fashion blogging, but I want to branch into doing legal blogging. I want to offer legal help to students who are becoming lawyers and to allow people to follow my journey as “a day in the life of a candidate attorney”. It is something that I’m going to enjoy doing. I’m keen to get into that and start blogging my fashion like I did when I was at varsity.

How did you balance working and studying?
The transition from university life to work life cannot be underestimated. Nothing can get you ready for that, no matter what field you work in. I already knew what my hours were going to be like and now I usually work 12-hour days. It just means making sure that if you’ve got to come in early and get something out because you know you have to leave early to get to class to finish your degree, it isn’t about skill, you just learn it when you are forced into the situation. The transition is just a learning experience.

Did you always want to be a lawyer?
Funny enough, I always wanted to be a lawyer when it came to choosing my career in grade 11. When I was 15 I wanted to become a chef, but I was always very argumentative, and I wanted to do the opposite of what everyone else was doing and I was good at it, so Law just stuck.

What would be your one tip to a student currently studying law?
I think job wise, law students need to apply early. The sooner you get a grasp of getting your articles and you know what you want to do, you can get vacation work and start working on it. Do not leave applying for articles in your third or fourth years. Attention to detail is so important as a practical skill. At work, everything is important, each full stop and comma is important.

What are some of your downtime activities?
I think my fashion, blogging and Instagram keeps me busy. I also play a lot of soccer during the week. I think when you are at varsity you don’t appreciate how much you get to socialise and when you start working, socialising is such a luxury and it is something you really learn to appreciate.

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