When we met with TAKEZITO we quickly realised that his journey into directing is unlike any other we have come across. For maximum effect please read the following intro in that epic American movie trailer voice…Born to a struggle activist mother, TAKEZITO has an Honours in Economics, Bcom in Business Science, BA Honours in Brand Leadership, a varsity class medal in Anthropology, and was mentored by Prophets of the City rapper Shaheen Ariefdien and founder of Design Indaba, Ravi Naidoo. He went on to become an agency strategist, turned copywriter, turned digital content creator and is quickly carving out a name for himself as a Director with a passion for documenting pop culture in Africa. This is everything you need to know about Ola! Films Director TAKEZITO.
TAKEZITO’s love of music and hip hop culture has seen him working alongside artists such as Cassper Nyovest and Damian Marley in more than ten countries across Africa. His unique journey through the world of academia, business, anthropology and advertising will now see him combining his analytical business mind with his creative instincts to realise his passion – ‘to create iconic imagery that pushes African popular culture to new heights’. Having always been fascinated by popular culture it was in Grade 9 when he would attend writing courses on Saturdays at the community organisation Bush Radio, led by Shaheen Ariefdien & Nazli Abrahams, that TAKEZITO truly found his obsession. He still speaks very highly of the experience: ‘Shaheen was instrumental in my life. He had this philosophy that if hip hop wasn’t helping the community it didn’t matter to him. That was when I became very interested in how culture influences society and that also led me to study anthropology.’
iDidTht: Your journey to becoming a Director has been so unique, what’s been the number one driving force for you?
Takezito: I’m interested in the Zeitgeist – the ‘where are we now’. I’m obsessed with where the energy is. For me, it’s about where African youth culture is, where it’s going, what the pulse is, what’s next, what’s exciting about it and what’s progressive in popular culture right now. Of course, I’m not just about what’s trending or hip – I’m a deep thinker who is interested in transformation and how stories are transformative. So I try to bring those two things together. I believe in powerful work that’s not just here today gone tomorrow, but rather something that has a meaningful contribution to popular culture.
iDidTht: Everyone seems to want to connect with this African youth market you speak of, but how do you achieve that?
Takezito: I am very interested in the soul and the essence of the culture and not necessarily just about what it looks like on the exterior – I really want to go a layer below that. Visually we can make the culture look amazing, but it won’t necessarily make you feel anything or connect with the South African audience we’re trying to connect with. So I am very careful to not exploit the culture but rather attempt to contribute to it.
iDidTht: So practically speaking, what is your approach when working on a project that aims to speak to this market?
Takezito: I take an ethnographic approach in my work. It’s something that stuck with me when I was studying anthropology. Basically, it’s approaching the people you want to represent on-screen and attempting to live in their shoes, not just observe them. For me personally, observation is not enough to understand. At the time I got the Gqom TV show [MTV base Gqom Nation], which was my first TV show, I was a hip hop head but I was also into drum and bass and even though I understood dance music it wasn’t my main passion. So I went and spent time in Durban to truly understand the club culture that I was going to tell stories about and I was blown away by what I learnt. It really gave me the tools to tell the Gqom story more accurately.
iDidTht: Okay, so what or where is the next big thing on your radar?
TAKEZITO: What’s exciting in Africa right now is definitely Afrobeat and what’s happening in Nigeria and what the artists there are doing by breaking through to the global scene.
iDidTht: Is it always music for you?
TAKEZITO: Not necessarily. Music is a big driving force for that specific audience, it’s where most of youth culture sits and where it is mostly expressed but it’s not always music. Yes, music says a lot about where we are at, it’s a big love of mine, but also fashion and lingo and everything that goes with the culture right now.