Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI – a cultural worker in his own right – profiles the ingenuous and sassy serial entrepreneur, Dimakatso Malwela, and her non-alcoholic wine brand that adds sparks to cultural experience…   

“You have to be always drunk. 

That’s all there is to it – it’s the only way. 

So as not to feel the horrible burden of time 

that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, 

you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. 

But be drunk…”

This is an extract from an iconic French poem, “Be drunk”, by Charles Baudelaire (1821 to 1867) – it was translated and edited by Louis Simpson. Yes indeed creative outputs are often associated with consumption of alcohol – and more specifically, wine. The reason could be that artists, or creative workers in general, often drink alcohol, and generously so, while producing their masterpieces. Yes, you’ve heard about the legendary Drum writers of the 1950s in Kofifi, Sophiatown. Their tradition was continued by such journos as Percy Qoboza, Jon Qwelane and their ilk. Absolutely, matured wine (besides its health attributes, also symbolic of the woman’s divine beauty that matures with time) and soul-soothing music create romantic ambiance in which a couple may indulge in fine dining as they look beyond the horizons, imagining a blissful future together. This future isn’t perfect, but harmonious – a combination of parallel narratives and sub-plots, not necessarily linear, and yet merging into a single narrative text of life. And for a solitary relaxation, you add a good book into that mix.

But I have been conflicted in how I can celebrate with two creative geniuses who may be perceived to be coming from the world poles apart. Imagining their worlds, my mind becomes pregnant with images of the opening sequences of movies by the Russian filmmaker, theatre practitioner and scholar, Konstantin Stanislaski in which contradictory images are juxtaposed to create tension in the audience’s mind. One such image, which is easier to comprehend for me in celebrating a milestone with, is being with Dr Leslie Dikeni, an intellectual, academic and a prolific author in Johannesburg. On Tuesday I celebrated with him the arrival hot-off-the-press two of his latest books – “South African Development: Perspectives in Question” and “Habitat and Struggle! The Case of the Kruger National Park in South Africa”. He’s about to finish a new manuscript on the African jazz.

We spent the afternoon together on the restaurant terrace of 54 on Bath hotel in Rosebank  Johannesburg. It’s easy with him because we had a sumptuous meal and washed it down with generous amounts of wine as I learned from his intellectual prowess. We even puffed on our pipes – though you may blame it on Thabo Mbeki’s influence on us as young activists in the 1980s, it’s sustainable for us as we can’t afford regular supplies of Cuban cigars. Writing this, I now think I should get the original French version of this poem and give it to Dr Dikeni next time we get together for our bi-weekly session of craziness – creativity spiced with tons and tons of infectious and genuine laughter – so that he could assess whether the translation did justice to this masterpiece as he did his PhD in French in France. Yes, as France is renowned for its wine industry, it is also renowned for its culinary arts through Lyon which is considered the world’s culinary capital. So I’m also benefiting from the influence as he cooked a storm for me and scribe, Sandile Memela, a few weeks ago – you may have seen the photos on splashed on my social media accounts with them.

While it’s manageable for me to entertain Dr Dikeni without any tinge of apprehension, I’ve been wondering how am I to entertain another creative genius, Leisle Timol. How will I celebrate her dazzling designs as she doesn’t partake in alcohol. Like Dr Dikeni, she’s intellectually gifted; engages in stimulating conversations; her wit is soul-caressing and heart-warming; while innocence is written all over her face, huge doses of sophistication underpin this child-like look; highly sociable and a joy to be with – she has an infectious and unpretentious laughter like Dr Dikeni – though hers is heart-warming. She has acquired an advanced taste of music, introducing me to an array of jazz music. Her taste of music is highly matured. I love it. Her taste in music is highly sophisticated. Jazz is poetry without words. It’s the sound that speaks and paints. I’m not surprised because she’s a damn good design artist. Courtesy of her generosity, my playlist now includes Allen Stone, Moonchild, Levels and has introduced me to South Korean music and movies.

An executive in Durban, with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Leisle made a long lasting impression when she joined us when I was a Chief Director of Marketing Communications at the then Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). Through her unparalled talent and her supervisor’s, we became the first government department to develop a corporate identity (CI) with a CI Manual – hence, the dti in bold is deliberate. So how will I create a lasting ambience in her memory when I’ll be hosting her in Johannesburg? This question has been lingering in my mind. Why? BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T DRINK ALCOHOL!

As the French poet insists on one being getting drunk, Pablo Neruda has even dedicated a poem to this wonder from the vineyards, “An ode to wine”. My most favourite poet, this Chilean poet was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but adopted his pen name in honour of the Czech poet, Jan Neruda. A Nobel Prize in Literature winner in 1971, he compares his lover’s breasts in this 1954 erotic poem to a cluster of grapes. Let me indulge you in his creative genius by quoting the entire poem:

“Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.

stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we’re speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.

Although Leisle doesn’t get inebriated from alcohol, she gets DRUNK too as a creative genius – from “POETRY” and “VIRTUE” as the French poet has mused. The ideal will be both toasting on glasses of wine. But my predicament has been resolved, I think. There may be two wine glasses on the table as I will be hosting Leisle. And the magic answer came from an ingenuous and sassy Johannesburg-based serial entrepreneur, Dimakatso Malwela. What an honour for me to be introduced to her by the World Women Leading Change (WWLC) Africa leadership, HRH Debbie Dineo Raphuti and Rebecca Morudu.

Dimakatso is the Managing Director for Nhlakanipho Investment trading as NKPI Holdings. Her story began in 2019, with the aim of creating a sophisticated alcohol-free wine.  As a non-alcohol consumer, it has occurred in numerous occasions where she would find herself asking if there was a non-alcoholic wine than the traditional juices. This led her to begin exploring the idea of non-alcoholic wines and to even produce her own quality non-alcoholic wine brand that everyone could even enjoy during their celebrations and corporate events. 

“When I became conscious of my situation and that I am not the only one, I wondered in my mind if there couldn’t be a non-alcoholic wine product,” recalled the sassy Dimakatso. “I am happy that I have now transformed that question into reality.” 

Dimakatso then established a non-alcoholic wine brand, “House of D’licacy”. Her range provides those consumers who don’t drink alcohol with an opportunity to enjoy the rituals of bubbly and wine drinking.

“My brand’s vision is to become a leading global non-alcoholic beverages housing brand.”  This vision is highly realistic when one considers the number of people who do not drink alcohol; the number of those who quit alcohol and yet may drink this non-alcoholic beverage to satisfy their cravings; the number of churches that may serve this in religious rituals but also in various celebrations held within the church walls; and I feed those who go out for dinner and values the significance of observing road safety regulations by avoiding to drive while drunk. 

Internationally, foreign market opportunities abound for this wine brand. For instance, in countries such as Italy and France where meals over lunch or dinner are washed down with wine, this brand may penetrate the market easily. Business literature teaches us about the failure of Disney Paris which at first attempted to erroneously impose their American construct and conceptualisation of family value on the French tradition by disallowing sale of alcohol in the facility. It cost them exorbitant consultant fees to discover that the French tradition frowned upon any lunch or dinner meals without accompaniment by wine. They had to change this silly policy.

This brand will definitely increase South Africa’s wine exports. Though the lockdowns intended to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic since last year have impacted negatively on our wine exports, the previous statistics were quite impressive.

Dimakatso’s non-alcoholic brand, “House of D’licacy”, will also increase South Africa’s production output which in 2019 – according to the research undertaken by Italy’s leading sommelier, Guido Invernizi – ranked our country at number 8 globally as it produced 9.7 million hectolitres (mhl). According to him, in 2019 Italy was the world’s biggest producer of wine at 47.5 million hectolitres; followed by France, 42.1 mhl; Spain, 33.5 mhl; USA, 24.3 mhl; Argentina, 13 mhl; Australia, 12 mhl; Chile, 11.9 mhl; South Africa at number 8, as alluded to above; then Germany, 9 mhl; China, 8.3 mhl; Portugal, 6.5 mhl; Russia, 4.7 mhl; Romania, 3.6 mhl; New Zealand, 3.3 mhl; Hungary, 3.1 mhl; Brazil, 2.9mhl; and Greece, 2.6 mhl. 

This brand may steal a sizeable share from the huge beer and fruit beverages markets. According to Guido, in 2018 in South Africa, the beer market consumed 3.21 billion litres; the fruit, beverages, and spirit coolers consumed 450 million litres; and the alcoholic wine market consumed 450 million litres which increased steadily from 437m in 2016 and 425m in 2015. With many consumers embracing health lifestyles and adopting sophisticated lifestyles, more and more will convert into consuming wine – and those drinking alcohol, will be an ideal target market for the Delicacy brand. By the way, in countries like Italy, soft drinks like fruit juices and cold drinks are considered breakfast drinks and lunches and dinners are served only with wine, water, Grappa and coffee (more especially a double shot of Espresso).

The spirits market is the least as it consumed 127 million litres (39 million whisky, 32 million brandy, 31 million vodka).

An all-round entrepreneur

It is a women-owned conglomerate which was registered in 2012. It has five subsidiaries which, besides the non-alcoholic beverage housing brand, include the Clothing & Textile Manufacturing; Enterprise & Supplier Development Programmes; Business Media Publishing; and, Events & Tours. “Our corporate, product and service brands are unique through a deliberate differentiation strategy,” says Dimakatso with oozing confidence. “What sets us apart is that we produce customised products according to our clients’ specifications. We are a environment, social and economic conscious brand – thus speaks to our desire to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) as developed by the United Nations. We strongly believe in community empowerment and upliftment as our factories employ the services of community-based co-ops and MSMEs mass production – thus contributing to job creation, sustainability and growth.”

The company has also tapped into initiatives aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are a certified supplier of medical PPEs after having gone through the vigorous test and accreditation processes of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and DDevconProtec.I’m glad to say we have acquired five SABS Manufacturing Capability Reports within five provinces in SA and have our surgical gown has passed the standards to supply the healthcare sector.”

An ardent advocate for empowerment, Dimakatso is the founder of Women of Value SA – an organization that in 2019 was honoured with the Gauteng Premier’s “Inclusive Economy Award” for successfully developing and implementing the Women Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Development Programmes. This was preceded in 2018 by her nomination as a finalist in the Gauteng Premier’s Women in Leadership Award. She is also the President /Co-Founder for Women of Value Africa – an organization with s presence in fou African sub-regions and it focuses on Regional Economic Transformation Programmes. She is the Chairperson and Ambassador for Africa Women in Leadership Committee of the African Tourism Board (ATB) – a premier umbrella body of national tourism bodies across the continent. The ATB is headquartered in Eswatini. This former Chairperson of the SADC Women in Tourism, currently serves as a member of the UNWTO Leadership Task Force – a committee represented by Africa’s Ministers of Tourism.

The company’s media interests include “Letlotlo” – meaning ‘Treasure’ in Setswana – which is a publication created and published by the women of Southern Africa. “Although it is created by women, the publication recognizes the strength and the value that lie within inclusivity, social cohesion, unity, multi-sectoral and inter-gender interactions and, therefore, engages key stakeholders in formulating partnerships and collaborations across sectors and the nations within the SADC member states.”

The publication’s readership cuts across all demographics – gender, race and age groups, both seasoned and aspiring entrepreneurs, government, corporate and civil society institutions. It is distributed across southern Africa within social and business circles as well as digitally. “We also target specific business community through South Africa’s  major airports lounges and regional business events.”

Though the publication’s content is varied, the cardinal principle is that it has to be empowering. Topics include sector-based value chains; entrepreneurship development; enterprise & supplier development opportunities; funding & financial literacy; intra-Africa trade; women in leadership ; male in leadership supporting women empowerment; business events; and, mentorship & coaching.

South African wine industry is the best

Back from our tour de force to the primary subject of this article, South Africa’s wine industry is highly rated. According to Jan Hofmeyer, the Cape winelands is be the best romantic destination on earth, no wonder Cape Town has been consistently been voted the world’s number 1 tourism destination in highly credible surveys. He wrote in the newsletter that promoted the International Philatelic Exhibition that was held in Cape Town from 8 to 12 Novemner, he said: “For those who love food and wine, good weather and beautiful scenery, there are not many experiences that beat a visit to the Cape winelands in summer. No other wine region combines all four elements so perfectly.”

Furthermore, he indicated that wine making in South Africa has deep historical roots. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the fabled ‘Grand Constance’ made at Groot Constantia, the farm established by Simon van der Stel in 1685, was the drink of the kings and queens of Europe. More recently, in 2015, the estate’s Chardonnay du Monde was voted the best I  the world at “Chardonnay du Monde” testing in France.

Jan quoted Tim Atkins, the British master of wine, when he said: “No other wine industry has made such strides, no.other wine industry possesses such energy or excitement.”

Indeed Dimakatso’s ingenuity surely adds to such excitement and energy. Allow me to borrow from, and slightly adapt, one commercial advertising an alcoholic beverage: “Give this lady… wine!”