Countrywide Talent Competes For Generous Arts Scholarship


Growing up in Soweto, Kgatliso Mahlo (19) dreamed of studying at AFDA in Johannesburg and becoming a professional actress one day. Her family do not have the means to pay for higher-education studies, but Mahlo says: ‘My mom encouraged me to apply to AFDA anyway and said maybe we’ll win the lottery!’

When the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme (NSP) applications opened in April this year, she immediately seized the opportunity, which she calls ‘a godsend’.

The NSP is a partnership between ACT and the Nedbank Arts Affinity, with sponsorship from Sun International and Business and Arts South Africa, where the winner receives a fully paid undergraduate scholarship to the value of R350 000 to study at an arts institution of their choice in South Africa. Fifteen finalists will attend the finals week in Johannesburg from 2 to 6 October, followed by the gala event at Sun City on 8 October at which the winner will be announced.

Mahlo is one of 89 applicants from all nine provinces who auditioned virtually in their disciplines, notably dance, visual arts, drama, music, singing and performance. The auditions were recently completed and 54 of the applications who passed their auditions are receiving three months of fortnightly professional online training and mentorship, from 9 July to mid-September.

‘The audition process revealed the immense talent and drive of young people from all over South Africa vying for a spot on the three-month training and mentorship programme,’ says ACT Interim CEO Jessica Denyschen.

One of the mentees is musician Sechaba Moletsane (22), who hails from the village of Ntsweletsoku in Zeerust, North West, which she says has shaped her as an artist: I am proud of my village: it made me who I am and it is where I learned to play the trumpet and all the percussion instruments.’ He is from a musical family – his parents and siblings are choir singers and brass band performers. ‘I practise really hard and learn from professionals to hone my skills. What I don’t have is a music qualification to back up my performance, and so when I saw the ACT scholarship online, I applied and was so excited to be selected for the mentorship programme.’

Historically, the NSP offered mentoring for the 15 finalists only. From this year up to 60 applicants will be mentored. ‘The scholarship is the grand prize, but the overall goal of the ACT Nyoloha Scholarship Programme is to nurture young people in their artform and prepare them for the world of work, which includes self-development, people management, entrepreneurship, marketing and communication skills. This will help to ensure they enjoy successful, sustainable careers,’ says Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank. ‘Professional training and mentorship are essential for this, and that’s why we now offer the mentorship programme for up to 60 young artists.’

During the three months, the artists will be rated by the mentors monthly and the best performers will each qualify for one of the 15 finalist spots.

Mentee Marang Khwene (19) from Honeydew, Johannesburg, attended the National School of the Arts and through the NSP is exploring her potential. ‘I do contemporary dance and ballet and what is great about the mentorship is I am learning so much more about myself and how, through dance, I can exceed all limitations. My body is able to perform the most complex dance moves, far beyond what I can conceive.’ If she wins the scholarship, she would like to study at the Luitingh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy in Cape Town. ‘It offers a level of professionalism to which I aspire, and it’s in Cape Town, where I’ve never been.’

Moletsane says the first couple of mentorship sessions have also helped him ‘to develop the inner me and to set my mind to seeing myself as a professional artist already’. It is also helping him to develop a positive self-awareness about being an artist, and that it is a profession for which he should be respected in the world. If he gets the opportunity to study further, he would like to study music at North-West University in Potchefstroom. ‘I want to motivate people around North-West. If they know I am here and they can see me working hard and growing as a musician, then they will know it is possible for them to achieve what they want in life.’

The mentees are all keenly aware that their odds of clinching the scholarship are 60:1. Mahlo puts it this way: ‘Only one person can win the scholarship, but the mentorship programme will help so many of us young people to pursue our dreams of a career in the arts, and equip us to find our way forward.’

Support the development of the arts, at no cost to you

You can also support the development of South African arts by simply banking with Nedbank. Open a savings or investment account and link it to the Arts Affinity to make a positive impact on the future careers of talented young artists, at no cost to you. And you can donate your Greenbacks to the Arts & Culture Trust via the Nedbank money app.

Visit any Nedbank branch or call the Nedbank Contact Centre on 0860 555 111 or go to for more information.


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