The Big Issue makes the bold move of featuring up-and-coming actor Jafta Mamabolo on the cover of the latest edition. A stunning image of a semi-submerged Mamabolo is accompanied by the tag line, “The emerging face of SA film”.
“Jafta stars in Otelo Burning, which hit the big screens around the country on May 11, the same day the magazine comes out,” explains Melany Bendix, editor. “We decided to feature him on the cover as we have a well-founded hunch that Otelo Burning may be as big as Oscar-winner Tsotsi, judging by the rave reviews and string of awards it has already garnered.”
She adds that The Big Issue has a reputation for supporting the local arts and the latest magazine proudly continues this long-standing tradition by showcasing the unique South African film about three township teens who find freedom through surfing during the dying days of apartheid.
Readers can find out more about the motivation behind the film through an in-depth interview with writer/director Sara Blecher, while Mamabolo shares his experience of making Otelo Burning, including his challenge of learning how to surf in just two weeks.
Another exceptional local talent featured in the magazine is jazz prodigy Kyle Shepherd. At just 24, Shepherd is widely recognised as one of the most influential and accomplished jazz pianists and composers in South Africa today. In a candid interview the musician reveals what drives him, the sacrifices he’s had to make to achieve success and the very personal motivation behind his new album, South African History !X.
Further proof that South Africa has an abundance of creativity is the photo essay documenting the 2012 Afrika Burn art festival. “The Big Issue had three photographers covering the event in the semi-desert Tankwa Karoo area and between them they brought back some stunning perspectives of the crazed creativity, fun and festivities,” says Bendix.
Not all entertainment
The edition also carries some heavyweight topics, including a special report on how bureaucratic bungling may be leading to an unknown number of recovered stolen cars — many in perfect condition — being crushed at impound lots.
Another in-depth article reports on the slow success of the City of Cape Town’s pilot assessment centre for the homeless. The centre in Observatory aims to “rehabilitate” the homeless and reintegrate them back into society.
“There was a lot of fanfare around the opening of the centre in early March,” says Bendix. “But that seems to have died down as the authorities face the hard reality of their ambitious plan to reduce homelessness in Cape Town — something even the most developed and socially advanced nations have been unable to do.”
She adds that the report does not shy away from addressing the allegations that the assessment centre — which has a stated goal to “encourage the homeless to rejoin their community of origin” — is a disguised attempt by the city to rid the streets of the homeless.
The agent of change for this edition is Chic Mamas Do Care, an NGO which collects, sells and swaps designer clothes and accessories to raise money for projects working with children.
As always, the magazine carries a full range of local news, reviews, entertainment columns, comics and one-on-one interviews with vendors.
“By buying this magazine for only R18 from vendors in and around Cape Town, you’re getting an informative, entertaining and original read at the same time as doing your bit to alleviate poverty. It really is a win-win,” says Bendix.