Johannesburg - Welcome to the #Trending awards, where we round up the highs and lows of the cultural year. And what an incredibly tough yet victorious year it’s been.
This was our first year as the co-editors of #Trending and, with every edition, we hope you learnt as much as we did as the arts and entertainment landscape evolved.
Undoubtedly, this was a time of activism. US-birthed hashtag #MeToo, a response to the outing of film tycoon Harvey Weinstein as an alleged sexual predator, saw South African women such as Katlego Danke, Florence Masebe and Nokuthula Ledwaba share their own harrowing stories of sexual assault.
On the local front, the #MenAreTrash tag saw women unleash their anger over living in a country that has some of the highest rape and gender-based violence statistics in the world.
Our year started with calling out the brotherhood when the #Trending team debated whether it’s possible to separate a design from the designer in a piece on sex offender Okmalumkoolkat contributing artwork to AKA’s track Caiphus Song.
Young women of colour making their voices known in the arts was the zeitgeist of 2017, which is why the always-slaying Lady Skollie graced our cover.
South Africans abroad kept making us proud. Trevor Noah keeps killing it in the Big Apple, ensuring The Daily Show has remained one of the most popular late-night shows on cable television, which the American media says is because of Noah’s appeal to the “urban millennial”.
Let’s also take a moment to congratulate the new Miss Universe, our very own Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. If beauty pageants were a sport, we’d be owning it!
Some amazing news is that many South African musicians have stopped copying US rap, instead gifting us with the authentic sounds of gqom. However, we’re in two minds about onomatopoeia becoming a thing in music. Artists such as Rihanna in Wild Thoughts and Big Shaq now make sounds instead of singing actual words. Could this be a response to Migos and their mumble rap? Have we regressed to a world where animalistic noises take the place of actual lyrics? We hope it’s just a fad!
The tech kept coming, our socialites stayed entertaining and our films caused controversy. Unfortunately, mismanagement continued to dog the SABC, which is supposed to set the media tone for South Africa. Not that the private broadcasters were any better, with MultiChoice possibly paying bribes to the Guptas. At least our local artists were always there to cheer us up.
So, before you go and enjoy the festive season, remember to practise your Vosho! - Grethe Kemp and Rhodé Marshall
The cultural moment of 2017
Remember back in 2015 when we all thought Cassper Nyovest was overreaching by thinking he could fill the TicketPro Dome? Well, he had 20 000 fans in that venue, creating what could be described as one of the most electrifying shows we’d be lucky enough to experience.
Orlando Stadium followed in 2016 with all 40 000 tickets sold. And then there was #FillUpFNBStadium. Watching the videos taken on the night and seeing the photos caused a lump in many throats as 68 000 fans gathered to support what has become a cultural movement as the rapper consistently makes history.
However you feel about Cassper as a celebrity, or whatever you think about his music, the significance of what he’s done for the industry and young dreamers over the past couple of years puts the naysayers in their place. He always includes other artists who probably wouldn’t have been able to say that they performed in front of 68 000 people in their country during a local production. Next up? Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium with a capacity of 85 000. - Rhodé Marshall
Our cover star of 2017
We’ve had plenty of spectacular local artists, musicians, designers and personalities gracing the cover of #Trending this year. But who is our cover star of 2017?
Honourable mentions go to Thando Thabethe and Rouge, who both had very big years. Thabethe has left Generations: The Legacy, but still holds down one of the biggest time slots on 5FM. She also has a new talk show on the TLC network, set to come out next year. Rouge dropped one of the most impressive records of the year, accompanied by a short film cementing her role as one of the more lyrically proficient MCs around.
The win, however, goes to bubbly rapper and poet Maya Wegerif, better known as Sho Madjozi. We’re proud to say we featured the homegirl quite early on this year and, since then, she’s blown up. An Absolut Vodka ambassador, her music and style are growing in popularity and her performances are lit. Her style is pioneering and she’s socially conscious, allowing her music to represent her culture. Her use of the Xitsonga language and xibelani attire have set her apart from the rest.
Sho Madjozi also spread her wings by acting on Mzansi Magic’s Isithembiso. Mad props to the sister with the sauce. - Phumlani S Langa
The artists of the year
Artist William Kentridge and company are still claiming the big price tags and the lion’s share of auction revenue, but 2017 made it abundantly clear that a new generation of South African artists has arrived on the international scene.
The establishment of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town is further proof that contemporary African is a new global fave – even with all of the commercial contradictions and access issues around the space.
Among the new generation, Kemang Wa Lehulere had an extraordinary year, eclipsing even Zanele Muholi and Nandipha Mntambo. Working across mediums, Lehulere broke through as a performance artist, winning the Malcolm McLaren Award at the important Performa fest in New York. He is touring Europe with a major solo and was named Germany’s Deutsche Bank artist of the year in March.
But he can’t take this one on his own. #Trending is naming the inimitable Lady Skollie as joint winner. Epitomising the zeitgeist, Skollie owns the indie artist label. She broke through with an international solo in London at the Tyburn Gallery and another in Paris, and has finally arrived. Her work – playful, sketchy and angry – challenges patriarchy on every level, while still celebrating her womanhood. She also keeps up with the fashion world and is active on the social scene. When we see her at a party, we know we’re at the right place. - Charl Blignaut
The year's hottest bods
We thank Fezile Makhanya for generously keeping us up to date on his abs. Apparently, he went on a mission to dramatically transform his body because he lost out in an audition to another actor whose body was better. Well, whatever your professional reasons, Fez, we thank you and your Instagram account.
Thank you, Zinhle Masango, for the body goals. The toned star gave #Trending readers some fitness tips in October, and says she started exercising to protect herself while in an abusive relationship. She’s since built up a fitness empire and currently has a workout DVD in the pipeline. Inspirational! – Rhodé Marshall
The "roast" of the year
Skolopad first gave us a dose of what she does at the Metro FM Awards (the woman in the yellow dress) and, since then, it’s been a string of red carpet appearances and a race for socialite dominance against Zodwa Wabantu.
This duel for the cool came to a head at the Feather Awards, when Zodwa beat Skolopad to the drama queen of the year award.
Skolopad rocked the red carpet with boerewors tied to her body. The next day, she braaied that same wors and enjoyed it with her family. Now that’s what we call a good “roast”. – Phumlani S Langa
Our #hashtag of the year
Socially conscious hashtags dominated the headlines this year, as they should. The #MenAreTrash and #MeToo tags received global attention, both revealing the reality of sexual assault on women in a patriarchal world.
Locally, one of the lighter tags we saw was #JustBuyATicketBroer. Besides rapper Cassper Nyovest’s “sha-sha” ad lib on the hit track Tito Mboweni, this may have been his other high point of the year. Fellow rapper AKA reached out to the self-proclaimed king of Motswako after Nyovest alerted the country to the fact that he was a little cash-strapped and needed help to get over a few remaining hurdles on his path to fill the FNB Stadium. AKA suggested they put aside any differences and “do it like Watch the Throne” (Kanye West and Jay Z). Cassper’s response? “Just buy a ticket to #FillUpFnbStadium broer ...” It had Twitter in hysterics, and #JustBuyATicketBroer began to trend.
Most followed South Africans on Twitter: Elon Musk (16.4 million), Trevor Noah (8.28 million) and Troye Sivan (7.46 million). – Phumlani S Langa
The Zodwa Wabantu Leadership Award
This year’s inaugural Zodwa Wabantu Leadership Award (which we just made up) goes to none other than Zodwa Wabantu.
Why? Because no one can do it like she does. The panty-hating entertainer was once banned in Zimbabwe and later Lesotho for “indecency”, but that hasn’t stopped her. She’s happily dating a Ben 10 and racks up thousands of likes on Instagram. A true tour de force and always unapologetically herself, fans just can’t get enough of her. We wonder who will be authentic enough to get our Zodwa Wabantu Leadership Award next year. – Grethe Kemp
The Daily Sun headline of the year
Last year was all about twerking tokoloshes, a staple of the country’s top tabloid Daily Sun. But tokoloshes were few and far between this year, trounced by rabid prophets and our bizarre tabloid trend of the year: mysterious panties – most often pink or red. Whether bewitched by a rival, cursed by the ancestors, eaten by a goat, stolen or left hanging on a tree, they were a thing this year. Why? Because underwear is far more mysterious than an oversized 4-5 or a miracle-working punani. – Charl Blignaut
Oopsie of the year
One Monday morning, social media had a little (clears throat) meltdown when rapper Emtee showed us what happens when he unzips his pants. As bizarre as it is that someone would want to show their 737 000 social-media followers how they urinate, the embarrassing situation resulted in Emtee being teased about the size of his you-know-what. Mistake or not, just leave your phone outside the loo dude! – Rhodé Marshall
For more, see:
What we loved and hated on TV
The year's culture scandals
The best and worst in musicals
The best and worst in fashion
The sex trends that got us going
The most delicious eats of 2017
The best and worst in gadgets
The most visited destinations
The wheels that made 2017
The singles that made 2017