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Awards 2007 ~ Media

The Heritage Arts Awards will mark the official opening of the inaugural Heritage Arts Festival, September 26th at a glittering Heritage themed party.

With a guest list that exceeds 500 people this Gala evening will pay tribute to some of the countries greatest people who have made a substantial contribution to the arts and the rich heritage of South Africa.

With an entertainment line up put together by none other than Mbongeni Ngema this night is set to become the highlight of the social calendar. Guests on the night include celebrities, politicians, prominent community leaders, city officials and renowned local artists and performers from around the country attending. This year the awards will be acknowledging 6 of the countries greatest:

Esther Mahlangu, Andrew Verster, Vusi Ximba, May Radebe, David Rattray,  and Kessie Govender all master of their craft and exceptional human beings who made a substantial contribution to the preservation of our heritage.

Esther Mahlangu, one of the countries most recognised and celebrated artists has won numerous awards throughout her lengthy career. These accolades include ranking 11th in the world in 1991’s Art Car Competition alongside the likes of global greats, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein. In 2006 she was recognised for her contribution to South Africa and the arts by the president Thabo Mbeki when he presented Esther with The Order of Ikhamanga – Silver Award. 2007 has seen Esther flying to Italy to paint the new Fiat and she will be attending the Heritage Arts Award at Kizo Art Gallery on September 26th. This will be her very first trip to Durban, during her trip here she will be attending the Heritage Arts festival from 27th -30th and will be working on 5 beaded blankets inspired by the festival.

Andrew Verster needs little introduction, a vibrant and prominent character in the Art world. Andrew Verster, born Johannesburg 1937, trained at the Camberwell School of Art and Reading University. Lectured at the University of Durban Westville (then University College, Durban) and the Natal Technikon until 1976 when he gave up teaching to become a full-time painter. His career has seen him collaborating with architects, writing short stories, articles and radio plays, designing sets and costumes and playing an integral role on the Film and Publication Review Board. He was a trustee of the Durban Art Gallery, the Arts Work Trust, Very Special Arts, Artists for Human Rights Trust and Patron of the African Art Centre. Committee of the Grahamstown Festival in charge of Visual Arts. This year he held an exhibition at the KZNSA Gallery to celebrate his seventieth birthday, June 2007. Andrew Verster will be exhibiting pieces in the Heritage Arts Exhibition, at Kizo Art Gallery, which forms part of the week long Heritage Arts Festival.

Vusi Ximba, originally from Mandeni, is now based in Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg, Vusi Ximba is a legendary icon in KwaZulu-Natal. This accordionist and singer has adapted elements of maskanda and township jive to shape his own distinctive style of music, and a string of successful recordings demonstrate his popular appeal. Known for his sharp and sometimes bawdy wit, which resulted in some of his material being banned on Radio, Vusi Ximba’s home-grown musical tales meld and mould together a unique coming together of KwaZulu-Natal urban and rural traditions. Known for his sharp sense of humour and comical tunes, Ximba continues to masterfully combine the concertina tradition of South Africa with a mixture of Zulu pop and Maskanda (Zulu rap). A native of Mandeni, a small village on the northern coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Ximba launched his career in the 1970s when his performances included humorous skits his with female dancers. Ximba's debut solo album, Siyakudumisa, released in 1992, sold more than 100,000 copies.

David Rattray was a man who dedicated his life to the people, and country we all call home. He re-invigorated the genre of bringing history vibrantly to life by telling the compelling stories of the many human faces of the old history of the battlefields region. He was a huge catalyst in the development of the Battlefields Tourism in South Africa, and put the story of the new South Africa and her people's complex past into the forefront of the minds of people around the world. His exposure to Zulu oral tradition and his studies of his excellent library have left him uniquely equipped for his vocation as a raconteur, and he has entertained many audiences in South Africa and abroad. His talks enthralled and captivated people from all walks of life, from princes to school children, and had given such a very positive new perspective on South Africa. David Rattray was shot and killed in a failed robbery attempt at his lodge in Fugitives Drift Zululand 2007.

Kessie Govender was an actor, playwright, director, musician and artist, all disciplines sat comfortably on the shoulders of the late Kessie Govender. He was born in Durban, the grandson of an indentured labourer. Kessie was one of the provinces first pioneers in the theatre world, not afraid to voice his opinions in an often violent and threatening environment. First introduced to the theatre in the early 1960s, a time when theatre in South Africa meant mostly white theatre staging classics such as Shakespeare and bedroom farces. It bore no relation to the lives of most South Africans, it didn't reflect indigenous language or humour, and it had nothing to say about the issues of the day. Together with Ronnie Govender and a small group of others they established the first non racial Shah Theatre Academy, which ran workshops to encourage and train young actors and writers to fill the gap in the local drama scene. In the 1970s he began writing and directing as well, to fill the void of suitable pieces on issues he felt needed addressing. His first - and one of his few real commercial successes - was Stable Expense, after which he named his Stable Theatre. He was committed to the ideals of a democratic society as he was committed to the arts and proved to be one of our most successful performers. His work as a playwright, director and actor was not only relevant but also of great artistic merit. His contribution to South African society and theatre in particular was outstanding. He sadly died of a heart attack in 2002 and is survived by his wife, Jayshree, and two children. - (Adapted from Chris Barron's "Working class hero of theatre for the people" Sunday Times. 3 Feb 2002)

Each award winner will take home an original ceramic award to the value of R2000 provided by Kizo Art Consultants and a R10 000 cash prize sponsored by Independent Newspapers. These awards represent a rare accordance when members of Arts world are acknowledged for their continued contribution to society.

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