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Africa By Design

Aesthetes, artists, style mavens and fashionistas convened at the Design Indaba in Cape Town to showcase the best of South African creative talent. Demand was high and sales were brisk.



As Cape Town basked in the glory of being named the World Design Capital 2014, the words ‘design, creativity and innovation’ rang loud at this year’s Design Indaba held in the popular Western Cape city. The annual conference focused on how these elements can positively impact the world.

Shweta Wahi

It was an early March weekend of fun and discovery for the creatives, artists, designers, hipsters – and ordinary folks – who made their way to the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC). There were 500 exhibitors, from Mikhela Hawker, who makes lampshades from recycled plastic bottles to others, such as Galago, which designs and tailor-makes leather sandals on the spot, in less than 15 minutes.

Part of the event was a three-day conference on creativity, which included talks by some of the world’s top entrepreneurs, creative minds and trendsetters, such as computer scientist Juliana Rotich from non-profit tech company Ushahidi, Ivorian architect Issa Diabaté, and South African photographer David Goldblatt. Tickets sold out quickly and for those who could not attend, the conference was simultaneously broadcast across four South African cities.

Kathrin Kidger

The Design Indaba is a platform for exhibitors to showcase their products to consumers and industry buyers. Hearing the story behind the conceptualization, design and creation of a product directly from the people who make them, also helps drive sales.

One designer present at the event was Susan Slee, the owner of Maneki and creator of Mannetjie van Staal – meaning ‘little men of steel’ in Afrikaans. This former goldsmith and jewelry designer displayed an ethnic and animal-themed range of cutlery. Her fascination with the simplicity and quirkiness of children’s drawings led to the creation of the van Staal family. Her stainless steel cutlery range features six characters, each with a name and story. The range has since expanded to wood, carved by Zimbabwean artist Nathan Kenias.

Kathrin Kidger

Yet another participant was Palesa Litha, an emerging designer who studied music before moving on to jewelry design. Her 2014 range, manufactured at an incubator in Rustenburg in the North West province of South Africa, explores the parallels between music and design.

The showcased designers were required to have at least two years’ experience in retail and had to have attended various workshops throughout the year, encompassing everything from costing and retail management to media training. Ten of these designers will now  go on to be a part of the South African collective at international trade fairs in in 2014 and 2015.

The Cape Town Fashion Council (CTFC) booked a R1-million ($93,722) space – the largest at the expo – to showcase 40 emerging and established designers. The CTFC develops entrepreneurship among designers and wants to shift fashion away from being about aesthetics towards embracing a sustainable business model.

Shweta Wahi

Bryan Ramkilawan, Chief Executive Officer of the CTFC, is working on partnerships across Africa and wants to share intellectual property to get the local and African design industry to where it should be.

South African consumers are starting to pay more attention to local rather than international designs, says Ramkilawan. Three days of sales at the pop-up stores totaled R1.1 million ($103,116), this excluded buyer sales estimated at R2.5 million ($234,327). All the money from the sales went to the designers.

Whether it is fashion, décor, music or art, be sure to head to this year’s World Design Capital. In the words of Ramkilawan, “design is a way of life”.

What design means to them

Shweta Wahi,
Fashion Designer

“Design to me, is all about exploring the creative tidbits from my childhood, what’s in front of me right now, the colors I see, the people I meet, the way a piece of fabric falls on the body, the way it feels – it’s a matter of perfecting how it feels and looks to express myself and tell my story.”

David Tlale, Fashion Designer

Fashion designer David Tlale at his Sandton store; Johannesburg, 1 November 2011 – Photo by Brett Eloff.

“Design means innovation, it means evolving, it means moving forward, it means how you reinterpret what has already been done.”


Jeanne van den Heever, Product Designer

“It means coming up with something creative, especially if you can add function to that in styling.”

Palesa Litha, Designer

“It is a different way of thinking. It’s science, it’s philosophy and it’s a way of living.”

Weaving Cultures
Elbé Coetsee brought rural appeal to urban folk at the Design Indaba

In the late eighties, Elbé Coetsee and her husband moved to a game farm in rural Limpopo, South Africa. Based 15 kilometers from Botswana and 18 kilometers from Zimbabwe, Coetsee often encountered women who were looking for work even as their husbands toiled away on the roads and farms. Coetsee took up the role of mentor, teaching the women to weave, embroider, bead, make candles and paint. This provided a great platform to exchange cultures.

“It’s a wonderful experience to be able to learn from them and share some of my culture with them. I really think it’s about bridging gaps and having an understanding for another’s culture.”

Soon the orders came rolling in. In 1994, Coetsee registered the company under Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation, named after one of the main rivers in Limpopo; Mogalakwena, meaning fierce crocodile.

Twenty years on, the company has grown to 20 employees who handcraft dainty table linen, placemats, table cloths, serviettes and scatter cushions, distributed and sold throughout South Africa. Although living rural comes with its challenges, such as being in remote areas away from the trappings of the city, not to mention traveling on dust roads, Coetsee says being surrounded and inspired by nature brings her a joy she cannot describe. Coetsee says the Design Indaba allowed her to showcase her work to an audience that would otherwise not have been able to see it. “It was our most successful Design Indaba,” she says.


The Design Indaba also got to the heart of objects, and how. The ‘color one’ installation for Mini, by Scholten & Baijings from Amsterdam, dissected the design and composition of a Mini One car. The car manufacturer also displayed the Mini Connected system’s Dynamic Music function, a feature that adjusts the rhythm of music according to the drivers’ driving style. The faster one drives, the louder the music. Attendees at the event could create their own remixes on the Mini dance floor, which was equipped with motion sensors.




Forbes Africa’s Best Photographs In 2019



[Compiled by Motlabana Monnakgotla, Gypseenia Lion and Karen Mwendera]

Image 1:

Kabelo Mpofu, an entrepreneur, took over his mother’s shop in Meadowlands, in the South African township of Soweto. He is hopeful of making the family business a success despite big retail stores opening up in the townships and swallowing up the corner groceries.

Image 2:

Africa is the youngest continent in the world. Every year, South Africa observes June as Youth Month, honoring the anniversary of the Soweto Uprising on June 16. In this image, the country’s sprawling township of Soweto comes alive with youth dancing in the winter weather to local and international music at the Soweto International Jazz Festival, an annual confluence of history, art and culture.

Image 3:

Women hold up placards against gender-based violence during a ‘Shutdown Sandton’ campaign; this after a spate of brutal rape and killings in South Africa.

Image 4:

Car dealerships were among the businesses set alight in Johannesburg’s Jules Street, during the spate of xenophobia attacks in South Africa in August this year. The spark that fueled the raging fire began in Pretoria, the country’s capital, when a taxi driver was shot dead by a foreign national who was selling drugs to a youngster in the central business district.

Image 5:

Sibusiso Dlamini, the co-founder of Soweto Ink, works on one of his regular clients at his tattoo parlor founded in 2014 with his long-time friend, Ndumiso Ramate. In 2019, Soweto Ink held the fourth annual tattoo convention, and for the first time in partnership with BET Africa, to break tattoo taboos in Africa.

Image 6:

Mmusi Maimane, the former leader of South Africa’s opposition party, Democratic Alliance, is about to cast his vote in front of local and international media houses who had wrestled to get the perfect shot in his hometown in Dobsonville, Soweto, during the elections in South Africa in 2019.

Image 7:

The brother of South African journalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, begs for government intervention after Mohamed was kidnapped in Syria on January 2017 by a group of armed men. The group demanded more than $500,000 for his freedom.

Image 8:

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with his body guards at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the three-day South Africa Investment Conference was held in November.

Image 9:

In a world that’s embracing new technology, inspiration is being found in bug behavior. The hard-bodied dung beetle is now key to robotics research, in Africa too. Astounded by this discovery early this year is Marcus Byrne, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who has been studying dung beetles for over 20 years. He holds up a metallic replica of a dung beetle in his hand in his office at the university.

Image 10: 

Mzimhlophe Hostel, a hostel among many others in Soweto, erupted with service delivery protests prior to the elections in South Africa. In the same vicinity, an informal settlement was also allegedly set on fire. Brothers Mduduzi (32) and Kwenzi Gwala (22), pictured, had arrived in Johannesburg looking for employment. They sold African beer, but their shack was set alight while they were still at church. They lost all their stock and possessions.

Image 11: 

A thrift market in the heart of Johannesburg’s central business district, not too far from a busy taxi rank, known for its pavement robberies. Despite the crimes, thousands of small entrepreneurs trade in this raucous market every day.

Image 12:

ANC, DA and EFF supporters dancing and chanting outside the Hitekani Primary School in Chiawelo, Soweto, South Africa, as they await South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to cast his vote in his former primary school. 

Image 13:

Tenants in the discarded Vannin Court in Johannesburg look on from their balconies as jubilation erupts on the ground floor.

Image 14:

Vestine Nyiravesabimana makes money weaving intricate baskets made of grass to feed her nine children in Kigali, Rwanda.

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Can Diddy’s Ciroc Recipe Work On Alkaline Water?




The first time Sean “Diddy” Combs took a sip of Aquahydrate alkaline water—given to him by pal Mark Wahlberg at a Las Vegas boxing match in the early 2010s—he found it to be an ideal antidote for evenings spent consuming adult beverages.

“I went out that night and had a Vegas night, and I woke up and had a Vegas morning,” Diddy told me in 2015. “I drank two of the [Aquahydrate] bottles and it was, like, the best tasting water that I’ve tasted. And it really, honestly helped me recover.”

Diddy became the face of the company alongside Wahlberg shortly thereafter, and the pair invested $20 million in Aquahydrate over the years while billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa added another $27 million.

READ MORE | Hip-Hop’s Next Billionaires: Richest Rappers 2019

They aren’t the only ones with lofty ambitions for the brand: last week the Alkaline Water Co., the publicly-traded purveyor of competitor Alkaline88, bought Aquahydrate in an all-stock deal that valued the latter at about $50 million.

For Diddy, who ranks No. 4 on our recently-released list of hip-hop’s top earners and boasts a net worth of $740 million, alkaline water holdings are just a drop in his financial bucket. His Diageo-backed Ciroc vodka—and its myriad flavors, from Red Berry to Summer Watermelon—is responsible for the lion’s share of his wealth. But it’s clear he thinks alkaline water, flavored variants included, could swell his portfolio. So do his new partners.


“You put both these brands under one public company, it makes a ton of sense,” says Aaron Keay, Alkaline’s chairman, of the Aquahydrate deal. “We see synergies on distribution, we see cost-savings on cost of goods. On production, on logistics, on staffing. … And we don’t see both brands actually then competing for the same target market.”

In the past, flavored water has enriched investors including some of Diddy’s hip-hop world comrades. A little over a decade ago, 50 Cent famously took Vitaminwater equity in lieu of stock as payment for his endorsement—and walked away with some $100 million when Coca-Cola bought its parent company for $4.1 billion in 2007.

A ten-figure valuation for an alkaline water company seems an outlandish target even for the notoriously bombastic Diddy. But Keay notes Alkaline clocked $33 million in revenues over the past fiscal year and had been expecting $48 million in 2020; now, with Aquahydrate on board, he projects closer to $60-$65 million. That compares favorably to Core Water, which was doing some $80 million as of last year before getting acquired.

“For two or three years, Core Water was just another clear water,” says Keay. “Then they added about a half dozen flavors. Sales doubled. They got bought for $500 million. I mean, for us, $500 million would be a big number off of where our market cap is right now.”

Diddy appears to be an ideal ally in achieving that goal. With Ciroc, once a middling vodka in Diageo’s roster, he was able to articulate importance of the brand’s defining trait: it was made from grapes, not grains (never mind that this might technically disqualify it from being considered a vodka). His contention, according to Stephen Rust, Diageo’s president of new business and reserve brands, is that grapes are simply sexier than potatoes.

“One of his favorite things [to say] is, ‘If you can have a vodka that comes from a history of winemaking, why would you do that versus the history of coming from potatoes?’” Rust explained in an interview for my book, 3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, And Hip-Hop’s Multibillion-Dollar Rise. “That’s Sean.”

With alkaline water, Diddy has demonstrated a similar knack for sizing up a product and extracting an elemental notion that passes muster with consumers (if not necessarily scientists). If “you’re full of acid,” Diddy once explained to me, you need to “get your body leveled out.”

Vodka and water, of course, are two very different products, and the same tactics won’t necessarily translate from one business to another. Flavored water itself seems to have been over-carbonated of late, as the recent struggles of brands like La Croix show; Alkaline’s shares have slumped this year as well.

Perhaps that’s why Alkaline is looking beyond its flagship bottled water business. Future plans call for a move towards cans in a nod to environmentally-conscious customers, as well as expansion into the nascent CBD-infused beverage space. Keay figures Diddy and Wahlberg, along with fellow celebrity investor Jillian Michaels, should provide a boost across the board.

“Once the FDA makes a ruling about how CBD is going to be distributed through those chains and channels, those guys are going to want trusted brands, brands that they know already have a consumer following,” says Keay. “And that was another big reason why it made sense to bring [Diddy, Wahlberg and Michaels] in, because it’s only going to help.”

Zack O’Malley Greenburg; Forbes

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The Highest-Paid Actors 2019: Dwayne Johnson, Bradley Cooper And Chris Hemsworth




A bankable leading man is still one of Hollywood’s surest bets, even if your name isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio. While the lucrative twenty-twenty deal ($20 million upfront and 20% of gross profit) doled out to the likes of Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise may be more or less gone, Hollywood still has its big-money brands, those actors who can promise an audience so big that they command not only an eight-figure salary to show up on set but also a decent chunk of a film’s nebulous “pool”—or the money left over after some but not all of the bills are paid. 

Dwayne Johnson, also known as the Rock, tops the Forbes list of the world’s ten highest-paid actors, collecting $89.4 million between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019.

READ MORE | Marvel Money: How Six Avengers Made $340 Million Last Year

“It has to be audience first. What does the audience want, and what is the best scenario that we can create that will send them home happy?” Johnson told Forbes in 2018.

It seems he makes the audience happy. Johnson has landed a pay formula as close to the famed twenty-twenty deal of yore as any star can get these days. He’ll collect an upfront salary of up to $23.5 million—his highest quote yet—for the forthcoming Jumanji: The Next Level.

He also commands up to 15% of the pool from high-grossing franchise movies, including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which had a worldwide box office of $962.1 million. And he is paid $700,000 per episode for HBO’s Ballers and seven figures in royalties for his line of clothing, shoes and headphones with Under Armour.

READ MORE | ‘Black Panther’: All The Box Office Records It Broke (And Almost Broke) In Its $235M Debut

While Johnson’s deal is the biggest in the business right now, he’s not the only one with a lucrative deal. Robert Downey Jr. gets $20 million upfront and nearly 8% of the pool for his role as Iron Man, and that amounted to about $55 million for his work in Avengers: Endgame, which grossed $2.796 billion at the box office. 

That gross was so big that it secured spots on this year’s top-earner list for Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd, in addition to Downey; together, they earned $284 million, with most of that coming from the franchise. 

“Celebrities such as Downey and (Scarlett) Johansson currently have extreme leverage to demand enormous compensation packages from studios investing hundreds of millions of dollars in making tent-pole films, such as The Avengers series,” entertainment lawyer David Chidekel of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae told Forbes. 

READ MORE | Worldwide Box Office, The Best It’s Ever Been

Cooper is the rare actor who can thank a bet on himself for his 2019 ranking. The actor earned only about 10% of his $57 million payday for voicing Rocket Raccoon in Avengers. 

Seventy percent came from A Star Is Born, the smaller musical drama that he directed, produced, cowrote and starred in with Lady Gaga. The movie was a passion project for Cooper, and he forfeited any upfront salary to go into the film and Gaga’s salary. It paid off—the movie, which had a production budget of only $36 million, grossed $435 million worldwide, leaving Cooper with an estimated $40 million. 

The full list is below. Earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, ComScore, Box Office Mojo and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers (generally 10%, 15% and 5%, respectively) are not deducted.

The World’s Highest-Paid Actors Of 2019

10. Will Smith

Earnings: $35 million

9. Paul Rudd

Earnings: $41 million

8. Chris Evans

Earnings: $43.5 million

6. Adam Sandler (tie)

Earnings: $57 million

6. Bradley Cooper (tie)

Earnings: $57 million

5. Jackie Chan

Earnings: $58 million

4. Akshay Kumar

Earnings: $65 million

3. Robert Downey Jr.

Earnings: $66 million

2. Chris Hemsworth

Earnings: $76.4 million

1. Dwayne Johnson

-Madeline Berg; Forbes

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