Perhaps in our pursuit of the regional integration strategic intent, it’s best for us to take refuge in the poetic phrase quoted in the above-given title which was written by Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) – a Danish prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems best remembered for his literary fairy tales – because what some of our leaders, both in the public and civil society sectors, across the continent communicate in their speeches, utterances and conversations undermine our efforts, so music could help us achieve this noble continental objective. So Brandhill Africa™, my competitive identity and public diplomacy group, has once again partnered with Bruce Kgapane’s Ziyaphenduka Marketing and Events Logistics to embark on a series of music events not only to entertain our people, but forge regional integration.

We are recognising the value attached to the arts by the African Union (AU) as it declared 2021 as “the year of the arts, culture and heritage”. This was amplification of the messaging from Agenda 2063 that calls for the free movement of people and goods. Unfortunately, as of January 2021, only 33 countries had signed the Free Movement of Persons (FMP) Protocol and only four countries had fully ratified. We have to put pressure on our governments to sign and ratify the FMP Protocol.

Back here at home in South Africa, one of our foreign policy principles is people-to-people contact. This is inspired by one of our values: botho/ubuntu – which means, I am because we are. 

Our vision of the programme is to position cultural industries as drivers of economic development through tourism, trade and investment promotion and enablers of regional integration.

The objectives of the programme are as follows:

  • To develop the arts and culture sector as part major contributors to our countries growth domestic products (GDPs);
  • Contribute to the developmental trajectory of our countries’ arts and culture sector by also affirming emerging cultural workers;  
  • Brand position our countries, and Africa, as viable destinations for tourism by increasing arrivals;
  • To facilitate cultural integration in southern Africa by promoting people-to-people contact – one of the cardinal principles of South Africa’s foreign policy as I’ve alluded to above;
  • Strengthen intra-relations within SADC member states.

As the weather allows in the south, between September and May the cultural scene become ablaze, so our ideal is to forge strategic relationships (including cultural exchanges) with the following arts festivals:

  • Botswana: In its 33rd year running, the Maitisong Festival is undoubtedly the biggest arts festival in Botswana. International and local artists will bring theatre, music, dance, poetry and comedy to audiences in and around Gaborone. We look forward to celebrating another year of arts promotion, raising the professional bar in the arts, launching careers and connecting Botswana artists with their international counterparts.
  • Zimbabwe: The Harare International Festival of the Arts(HIFA) is one of Africa’s largestinternational arts festivals. Established in 1999 by Manuel Bagorro the festival takes place each year in late April or early May in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The week-long festival encompasses five principal disciplines: theatre, music, dance, fine art, and poetry.
  • Mozambique: Marrabenta Festival which promotes the country’s national music. This style of dance hails back to 1930s-1940s Maputo. It remains wildly popular on Mozambique’s dance scene to this day. It is known for being one of Mozambique’s liveliest fests. You’ll be seduced by the rhythmical performances of this historic music genre. The festival starts in Maputo and ends in Xai Xai, the capital of Gaza Province.
  • eSwatini: Bushfire Music Festival is the country’s most unusual open-air art gallery and nightclub, House of Fire, hosts the country’s biggest performing arts festival each May. Dozens of musicians, poets, dancers, and theater groups from around the world perform at this spacious Malkerns Valley venue alongside food and craft fairs. Film screenings are also part of this fascinating three-day festival.
  • Namibia: The Windhoek Jazz Festival is an annual event held in Windhoek, Namibia. This high profile event is well recognized and is a highlight on the country’s calendar. The yearly occasion is courtesy of the City of Windhoek in partnership with Windhoek Lager, Standard Bank, Air Namibia, 99 FM, Adforce, the National Arts Council of Namibia and Pernod Ricard. In 2013, the event made history when approximately 5000 people attended this once yearly event. The Windhoek Jazz Festival has been graced by quite a number of artists such as Salif Keita, MOJ’s, Fu Jazz All Stars, Big Ben, Hugh Masekela, Selaelo Selota, Zahara and many other musicians from other African countries.
  • Malawi: The Blantyre Arts Festival responds to the needs for development and promotion of various aspects of arts and culture by organizing events, festivals, and cultural exchange, local and international performances. This will be the first time that the province engages Malawi directly.

Although we have known each other since the late 1980s when Bruce worked in the music industry and I as an arts and culture editor for an anti-apartheid publishing house, Learn & Teach Publications, we only started collaborating formally since 2018 when we launched, under the banner of Ziyaphenduka Promotions, the liberation heritage route in the Gert Sibande District for the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) – a multidisciplinary programme involving a music festival and charity golf event.

Bruce, the world-renowned trailblazing music promoter, needs no introduction in South Africa as he’s regarded by many as a doyen of the industry. Bringing his vast 13-year experience garnered in the entertainment industry working for major global South African music companies such as Gallo Records, EMI Records and BMG Africa Records scouting talent; recording them; mentoring and providing them with after-care services; promoting them for sales; he then decided to further disrupt the music industry by one of the first few music promoters to establish Ziyaphenduka Promotions to host over 40 crowd pulling events – which featured both local and international stars – to this day since 1999. Unlike many of his peers, he has invested heavily in world class event equipment to ensure this grant him full independence from the traditional establishment, control of the quality of entertainment he provides while this also adds efficiencies and cost effectiveness to his events. His company was recognised with two coveted PMR Africa Awards of Excellence: Golden Arrow for Event Coordination and Diamond Arrow for Music Promotion Agency. He serves on the Board of the South African Promoters Association (SAMPRA). A social entrepreneur, he also serves in the Board of the Nelspruit Displaced Children Project. He’s also a chairman of the SHABCO chemicals.

I am a Fellow of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing, and touted by many as one of the foremost thought leaders on competitive identity and public diplomacy with experience in brand management, cultural industries and international relations. A former South African Consul-General: Milan, Italy, I have also served as a Commissioner at the Venice Art/Architecture Biennale. While there, I hosted South African filmmakers and films at the Venice International Film Festival, the Milan African snd Caribbean International Film Festival and the Verona International African Film Festival. I have also hosted the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Santu Mofokeng photography, in exhibitions in Italy. I have initiated and mounted monuments such as statues, memorial plaques, tree planting and a mural in honour of Nelson Mandela in Italy – these remain tourist attractions in Italy to this day. This last bit is iconised as a chapter in my latest book, “De/constructing brand Africa: A Practitioner’s Perspective”. I have also conceptualised and hosted “South Africa Week” and “Africa Week” celebrations. I have hosted such artists as Ehashi e’limhlophe, Abdullah Ebrahim, Hugh Masekela and Louis Moholo. I have also hosted the SA-Italy Business Awards and also co-hosted with the SA Tourism’s Country Office the “SA-Italy Tourism Awards”. 

My  highest qualifications are an MA in Dramatic Art from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MSc in Global Marketing from the University of Liverpool. A former Publishing Director of Heinemann Publishers, my earlier book is titled “Sound and Fury: The Chronicles of Healing” whose “Foreword” was written by H.E. Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of South Africa. I’m currently a publisher of your favourite pan African business news portal, Jambo Africa Online and the Convenor of the Biashara Services and Products Africa (BiSPA) Conference and Exhibition – both platforms promote “Made in Africa” service and product brands.

I have been nominated twice, in 2020 and 2022 (please do vote by clicking here as the voting closes on 30 November) for “The World CEO of the Year Award” by the US-based World CEO Rankings Board and his company, Brandhill Africa™ was recognised with the “Best Brand Award” at the “Africa Brand Leadership Awards 2020” hosted by the World Brand Congress.

We are ready to engage with governments and corporates interested in partnering with us.

Tribute to Father Albert Nolan

Let me say my last words to Father Albert Nolan following his untimely passing on. In the late 1980s Father Albert Nolan was the founding Editor of Challenge magazine which was one of the “alternative publications” that defied apartheid’s media restrictions imposed under the draconian State of Emergency and the indifference of the mainstream media in exposing atrocities committed by the regime. Some of the publication’s in the stable included Learn & Teach which I joined in 1988 as a journalist until I became its last Editor-in-Chief; SPEAK women’s journal; Upbeat (youth magazine published by SACHED); South African Labour BulletinWork in Progress; COSATU’s “The Shopstewart”; and progressive newspapers such as the New NationSaamstaan; and the Weekly Mail (before it metamorphosed into the Mail & Guardian); and the Eastern Cape News Agency. This cohort of progressive journalists included filmmakers at the Video News Service (VNS) and photographers at Dynamic Images and AfraPix. A number of the editions of these publications were often banned or seized by the apartheid security services; and video and photographic footages by these courageous journalists were often seized. They all covered the gallant mass protests against apartheid in the townships and villages and exposed the brutality of apartheid forces – that included arrests, detentions, maiming and killing of activists – to the entire world. Harassment of these journalists included being subjected to spells of detention without trial.

After the 1990 unbanning of the national liberation movements and the liberalisation of South African politics, the international donor community indicated their resolve to curtail funding to these media institutions as they provided them with support on the basis of their anti-apartheid stance, and such funding was to completely stop after the 1994 democratic elections and it was to be diverted to the post-apartheid government.

We and Albert began to explore self-sustainable strategies for our entities which were to lead to semi-commercialisation by 1994. We wanted to retain these publications to cater for the marginalised communities – often with low levels of English literacy and the mainstream media wasn’t servicing them. We then established the Independent Magazine Group (IMG) which was to serve as a shared service centre (providing corporate services support including advertising sales, promotions and sponsorships) for five publications – namely, Challenge; Learn & Teach; SPEAK; SA Labour Bulletin; and The Shopstewart. Budgetary constraints had already forced the closure of New Nation, Saamstaan and Work in Progress. I was the youngest editor and Albert was the eldest, so I learnt a great deal from his intellect and patience in dealing with the militant impatient youth I was.

The consortium encountered a number of challenges: the advertising industry remained untransformed and conservative media planners refused to buy advertising in these publications; all of us as comrades were in principle opposed to retrenchment so we couldn’t cut our staff numbers; the post-apartheid government took time to develop funding policies and mechanisms for the independent media sector; a number of key comrades were recruited into the public service. So the consortium collapsed and the publications closed down.

On hindsight, those publications could have been retained as the gap they left still exists to this day.

Before signing off, let me share with you my dearest reader that I appear on a slot, “Across the continent with Saul Molobi” daily at 13h00 in “Today with Monnye Kunupi” show on Radio Bop SA, an internet radio station. 

On Thursday I was hosted with Olivia Maponya, multiple award-winning CEO of Kopanong Bus Service, by Dr Nimrod Mbele on 101.9 ChaiFM. Celebrating “Transport Month”, we explored opportunities and threats faced by the transport sector not only in South Africa, but across the continent. This sector is critical to deepen integration. To listen to an hour long interview, please click here.

I also had the pleasure of being interviewed on Friday by the national broadcaster’s SAFM to unpack the Sandton terror warning issued by the United States. This is serious as it has the potential to tarnished the reputation of our nation brand – which is already in disrepute by perceptions of the prevalence of crime. Although thete were protocol breaches in the US making this announcement especially in this age of unmediated social media communications that uncontrollably spread like wildfire, I did query the time it took government to respond (it’s like tow trucks arriving much earlier than ambulances and police at an accident scene); also used the analogy of one not taking a risk when mugged by a criminal even when their gun looks like a toy); and the impact of the revelations at the Zondo Commission plus the mis/handling of the thievery case on Phala Phala farm by a former head of state security agency on the brand reputation of our intelligence services. If interested in listening to the ten minute podcast, please click here.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saul Molobi (FCIM)

PublisherJambo Africa Online
Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: Brandhill Africa™

Tel: +27 11 759 4297
Mobile: +27 83 635 7773
Social MediaTwitter / Instagram / LinkedIn / Facebook / YouTube / Jambo Africa Online

Physical Address: 4th Floor, The Firs; Corner Bierman and Cradock Avenue; Rosebank; JOHANNESBURG; 2196.


– a pan African competitive identity and public diplomacy agency decorated with the “Best Brand Award” at the World Brand Congress’ “Brand Leadership Awards 2021” –

A Strategic Partner to UNISA Enterprises (Pty) Ltd
A Strategic Partner to Enterprises UP (University of Pretoria)
A Strategic Partner to Proudly South African (Proudly SA)
A Supporting Partner to the African Agri Council (AAC)
A member of the World Free Zones Organisation (World FZO)
A member of the African Tourism Board (ATB) and World Tourism Network (WTN)