The South African Music Awards turn 21… and are going back to the future!

2015-03-05 10:26

Cape Town - Twenty-one represents change.

The transition from childhood to adulthood; a chance to do things differently. It marks a point where the influence of the legacy that came before creates the legends of tomorrow.

The annual South African Music Awards celebrate their 21st birthday this year by doing just that: learning from the past to inform a bright new future.

You may have seen the #XXI going around on social networks, with well-known personalities and ordinary South Africans talking about "When I was #XXI" or "Things to do at #XXI", and wondered what in the world this #XXI thing is.

XXI represents the number 21 in Roman numerals – and is the number of years the South African Music Awards have been a fixture on the local entertainment scene.

Now, as they come of age, the XXI social media campaign highlights the South African Music Awards as distinctive and standing alone with no peer. As a single symbol, the XXI encompasses the notion of "Legacy to Future".

The #XXI campaign has already attracted an enthusiastic response on Instagram, with celebs and ordinary people posting their nostalgic memories of when they were 21 and nominating others to do the same.

Author and columnist Khaya Dlanga posted a photo of his 21-year-old dreadlocked self, recalling that he was working as a waiter at the time but kept a journal that he still quotes from – and that he dated a white girl and they would often be subject to racial slurs.

When I was #XXI 1: I worked as a waiter because I had dropped out. 2: I had dreadlocks (as seen above) 3: I spoke in front of 110 schools in the Western Cape, from the richest to the poorest. 4: I spoke at one Afrikaans school in Belville. When they showed me the hall before assembly, there was an old South African flag hanging. I was nervous as hell. By the time I went to speak it had been removed. 5: I had no job and between being a waiter I was helping a friend of mine, Chloe, start a magazine and I was the marketing manager. 6: I saw a helicopter crash as I was painting a school (they survived) and I was interviewed by E-News, my first TV appearance. 7: I was skinnier. 8: I dated a white girl and we'd occasionally get racial slurs thrown our way when walking. 9: I quit working as a waiter because I was starting to think I was destined to be one all my life. 10: I kept a journal I sometimes quote here to see how I have become worse or better. 11: I lost a very important suitcase to me the previous year when I was 20. I found it under the most extra-ordinary circumstances when I was XXI. 12: I took the train everyday. 13: I read on the train everyday. 14: I lived in a tiny room and it was better than being as homeless as I was the previous year. 15: I read the Bible. 16: I prayed everyday. 17: I didn't know I would be where I am today. 18: I was hopeful 19: I had my first bottle of sparkling wine (cheap one) 20: I had been through the worst and I was not afraid 21: it was the begging of greater things to come I nominate @hulisaniravele @siyanyezi @tibz06 @lebolukewarm and @nandimngoma to do the same

A photo posted by Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) on

Sharing a photo of her smiling self being capped, TV presenter Hulisani Ravele said she graduated from the University of Johannesburg with a BCom in Marketing Management when she was 21. "Education has always been very important to my family and graduating was the best gift I could’ve given my parents in my 21st year."

Thank you @khayadlanga for the 'When I Was #XXI' nomination! When I was 21, I graduated from the University of Johannesburg with my BCom in Marketing Management degree. I remember I couldn't wait for the day to come, for that 30 second nyana moment when: 1. they call out your name; 2. you rise from your seat; 3. talk a walk to the stage (and pray you don't fall ??); 4. and finally THAT moment in my pic. ???? Victory, triumph, joy, accomplishment, relief, gratitude. So many words could describe that day. Education has always been very important to my family and graduating was the best gift I could've given my parents in my 21st year. Especially my dad who was SO strict about school. My dad will not witness many more of my achievements, he missed my 18-years in broadcast, he will miss my wedding, he will miss my children, but I am forever grateful that he did not miss this milestone. ?? I nominate @pabimoloi @mphomaboi @melzinbala @clairemawisa @therealpsyfo @thetheorem @djswitchsa @onesadie @zottyzulu @daleherbst to share their When I Was #XXI experience. ??

A photo posted by Hulisani Ravele (@hulisaniravele) on

It was a similar awakening for J’Something from Mi Casa: "When I was #XXI I had this dream of being a musician … Of being someone that would use the tool of music to change and influence the youth of the world. Now with Mi Casa I have the privilege of doing so every day…"

Radio and television presenter Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp was an actress at the time. Posting a photo from a play she appeared in, she wrote: "When I was #XXI… Being on stage with your pyjamas was like being naked in a magazine!"

When I was #XXI ... Being on stage with your pajamas was like being naked in a magazine! #21

A photo posted by Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp (@elanaafrika) on

It was a poignant memory for broadcaster Azania Mosaka, who posted a picture of her infant daughter from 1998.

"When I was 21 I came back from three years spent in London. I came back with a little bundle of joy who is now 16 years old. She was by far the biggest highlight of my 21st year. I was both scared and excited to be her mom."

When I was 21 I came back home from 3 years spent in London. The year was 1998. I came back home with this little bundle of joy who is now 16years old. My time in London was a mixed bag. I had loads of adventures, made great friends, fell in and out of love, roughed it, travelled and came back a much more mature person. But she was by far the biggest highlight of my 21st year. I was both scared and excited to be her mom. SA was exciting at the time (has never stopped) with lots of changes in the media landscape. Y-FM and Kaya fm were new on the scene and this made radio very competitive. #XXI. I nominate @melzinbala @marangdream @trevor_stuurman @trevorgumbi @kaizermotaungjnr @davidkau @shakasisulu @zintathu to share something about when you were 21. #XXI

A photo posted by Azania (@azania_) on

Fellow media personality Melanie Bala has some fond memories of that time, posting a photo of her fresh-faced self rocking a bobbed hairstyle: "When I was #XXI … I’d just given up on my dream of becoming a lawyer … I’d been hosting a new music show called Studio Mix for about six months. We replaced Pick a Tune. I shared a flat in Yeoville with a friend and was trying to find my way around Jozi (literally and figuratively)."

These intimate snapshots of days past, says Refiloe Ramogase, the newly elected chairperson of the South African Music Awards, confirm that being XXI is a milestone that strikes a chord with everyone.

"The South African Music Awards turn XXI – the very same age as our cherished post-emancipated rainbow nation, South Africa" he says.

"This milestone creates the opportunity for reflection on where the local music industry is as whole and how far our legacy has come, while shining a bold spotlight on where music is headed in this country. The awards themselves have a solid and respected heritage, and are looking to the future to build on this proud legacy with a renewed youthful vibrancy."

Join the conversation on social media – rewind back (or fast forward) to being 21 and share your thoughts, memories and ambitions by using the #XXI hashtag.

The SAMA XXI nominees will be announced on Thursday, 12 March 2015.

Don’t miss the Kia Record of the Year Nominees announcement on Friday, 13 March on Live Amp, SABC 1 at 21:00.

The annual South African Music Awards are organised by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA).

Follow the SAMA XXI via social media:



Twitter: @TheSamas

Hashtag: #SAMAXXI

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