Joburg is a city made for hustlers, movers and shakers, individuals searching for future success and the resources to achieve their goals. It’s vibrant, diverse and upbeat with a variety of cultures, lifestyles, nationalities, religions and opportunities. Here, you will find people from different ends of the country on their everyday hustle. Dancer Itumeleng Hlapane, singer Shekhinah Donnell and poet Conelius Jones introduce us into their Joburg hustle.
Award-winning dancer and choreographer, vocalist, actor, Converse brand ambassador and entrepreneur, Itumeleng Hlapane (28) led us into his life of hustling, born in Free State. Itumeleng developed a love for creative arts and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a professional dancer after matric. His first business, an entertainment company called Rhythm Arts Dimension, manages and developes dancers. He also became part of the So You Think You Can Dance competition as a choreographer in the year 2013.
After an incident in 2008 when he was diagnosed with physically induced asthma, Itumeleng realised that life is a blessing. His talent and expertise gave him the opportunity to work with South African dancer Somizi Mhlongo doing castings for AFCON and become Harold Van Buuren assistant choreographer and dance captain.
Itumeleng Hlapane has devoted his life to helping young people with the Business Education and Art Mentorship (BEAM), a non profit organisation with a TAX exemption founded with an aim of providing youth with a programme that will educate them to become social entrepreneurs. He end the conversation by saying to all the Joburg Hustlers “ keep your eye on the ball and don’t lose focus,’’
Shekhinah Donnell (20) has a Twitter bio that reads, “crazy teen out in the big city of Jozi no job just a dream”. This singer, songwriter, performer, student and Idols 2012 top 10 finalist, opened the doors to her apartment in Auckland Park to share with us her own story of being a Joburg Hustler.
Raised in Durban, Shekhinah realised her dream of being a singer when she was in grade 9 and after joining the school choir was later was involved in a programme called KZN Young Performers where she met the likes of Kaya Mthethwa and other artists. In grade 11 Shekhinah auditioned for Idols and was eliminated after failing to impress the judges but came back with a vengance to audition for Idols again in 2012, which she explains as “a life changing experience”. Shekhinah’s biggest inspiration is her father Philips, whom she looks up to.
It’s been a year now that Shekhinah has been on the hustle in Joburg working with a producer on her upcoming album. She aims for perfection and nothing less. She has written a song for Melissa Allison and continues to write for other artists as well. She has shared a stage with Danny K, Kaya Mthethwa and Mi Casa, to name a few, and also doing a cover of AKA song. Shekhinah moved to Joburg to get more recognition. “I came to Joburg to conquer,” she said.
Shekhinah just released her new single called “Hot Tears” on iTunes and has been on the hustle to get radio stations to play her song. She also performs at gigs to get her name out there. In the future Shekhinah hopes to travel the world with her music and continue to write songs for big artist overseas. She has dedicated her life to music and believes that there is nothing more important than believing in yourself.
After returning from a spoken word project in Germany, full-time poet, performer, and traveller Sibusiso Simalane, aka Conelius Jones (25), gave us the inside scoope on how he became a Joburg hustler. Born in an East Rand hood called Duduza, Conelius moved to Durban where he fell in love with poetry.
He moved back to Joburg three years to make a name for himself. “I wanted to be recognised as a poet,” said Cornelius. Since then his hustle in poetry has given him the opportunity to work with famous poets he always looked up to, such as Mak Manaka and Afurakan to name a few.
He believes that everybody has the yearning to voice their story and he uses poetry to explain his own personal experiences. Even though the art industry is not held in high regards in SA and other countries, Cornelius argues we have to change people’s perspective and create a demand for the platform of art. “When you give your all there is no way you are going to fail,” he said.
Drive and enthusiasm is what makes Conelius Jones and he believes he could win the noble prize for literature and soon publish an anthology of his work. He describes Joburg as a jungle for hustlers, where there are more platforms and people who share the same opinions. Also Joburg is a place that can fuse one’s passion for their craft. His last words to the youth attempting to succeed in Joburg are, “Carve your dreams into weapons.”
Joburg is a city with potential for every hustler. But everyone’s batting to be recognised, and people will pull you down so that they can rise. Joburg reflects the theory of Charlse Darwin “Survival of the fittest”, not everyone who comes to Joburg will achieve their mission, with the availability of drugs in almost every street corner, its easy to find yourself hooked to the high and fast life of Jozi.
Joburg can make or break you. Therefore You cannot sit back and relax, It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get where you aspire to be. These hustlers show that you have to snatch every opportunity that falls along the way.
The hustling world is made for everyone who has the perseverance, ambition and talent to attain their goals. If you are not ready to hustle, then Jo”hustle”burg may not be the place for you.
For more information about Jo’hustle’burg follow me @simplybobontle
Pictures taken by @itsKID_Darkness
Feature profile by Vusi Nsibande