The spirit of all things art with Mncedisi Ncedani known as “Mnce”
I am at the Tshisa Talent office to speak with a man who needs no introduction: he is a pioneer in the industry. I could not help complimenting Mnce on his outfit – as you can see – his dress code was giving off “African authentic style” – very stylish!
Some might know him as DJ Jazz TrainLive from his DJ years where he played African jazz at MCFM radio station. “Because I am a fan of African jazz, when the radio station was established I went to audition and I was taken on as one of the presenters. I hosted a jazz show on Sundays that was called the Jazz Train. From this, I realised I had developed a following, so I ventured out to play live at private events and that’s where the name Dj Jazz TrainLive came about.”
One could call him a jack of all trades, Mnce is a producer, event organizer, Tshisa Talent’s general manager and more. From the 90s, he was involved with Simunye Community Centre in Kwanokuthula, but it all started in 1998 when he enrolled at the New African College for a year in Cape Town. There he received formal training in script writing, songwriting, acting, and all the elements that go into stage performance. “When I came back in 1999, I started working with local groups, spreading the message and lifting up young people and passing on my skills to them. It was that year where I got employed at Simunye Centre as an Arts and Culture coordinator,” explains Mnce.
He has paved the way for local artists, dance groups and Kwaito singers that came out of that era. Many might remember the days of the Kwaito and dance-off shows that used to take place at the Simunye Centre while some may be too young to remember that time, although it is spoken of often as a catalyst for the creativity that has come out of, and continues to come out of, Kwanokuthula. Fast forward to 2008 and, when his contract with Simunye Centre ended, Mnce auditioned for Lunchbox Theatre. “There my theatre journey was reignited and, in 2012 when Tshisa Talent was formed, I have been running between these entities Tshisa Talent and Lunchbox ever!” says Mnce.
Mnce explains his journey as producer and event’s organizer, “There was a time when we had to bring Sipho Gumede, a jazz artist, to Plett. We were inexperienced. We never knew about organizing an event, we were just excited to bring a big artist to Plett and yet it was a big loss for us. We never got paid and we never got anything to show for it, but it was a learning curve because all those lessons, they motivated me to learn more.
The journey of being an event organizer has been a learning curve, attending workshops under the banner of Tshisa Talent and that has built me to be who I am today.” One cannot speak of Mnce and not talk about Tshisa Talent, as I have mentioned he is the general manager. Formerly known as Bitou Arts, the name was changed because it did not go well with what they envisioned in a name: Tshisa Talent was born because we came across hot talents in the townships hence the name Tshisa Talent.” said Mnce. Tshisa means “hot” in isiXhosa.
The African Waves Arts Festival which formed part of the Plett Arts Festival was an event that gave our local artists an opportunity to showcase their talent, through music, dance, poetry and more. It was an event that called upon us to embrace our African roots and see the amount of talent that we hold. “I feel honoured to have created, or to be part of a brand, that has created a platform for artists. We hope to bring more to the event next year because we had to chop off some elements for the first year but going forward, we aim to go big.” he explains.
As we conclude our conversation, Mnce would like to leave a message and a word of thanks: “I would like to encourage our people to support local artists because that is where it all starts and lastly, I would like to thank Plett Tourism for believing in us: that we could pull off such an event. Thank you to the people who have paid attention and a big thank you to the National Lottery Commission, the African Waves Arts festival would have not been a success without their support and sponsorship.”