Yamnkela Mqikela Finds Her Calling




Urban Craft magazine caught up with one Yamnkela Mqikela a while back and the gorgeous South African model/vocalist was more than happy to share with us insight into some of the projects, current and upcoming, that she is up to.



She admits that her initiative ‘Sistahood411 has given her the unique opportunity to share a bit of herself with the world and so much more!
“I always believed that I had a story to tell. I may not have grown up poor but because we are human living on planet Earth, a lot goes on. For a very long time I felt like I was silenced and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Every time that I saw young girls in the streets, my heart would break. I felt like they were waiting to hear my voice --- to tell them that ‘this is not how it's done’ and ‘this is the way to go’. So I sat down and drafted out a proposal for Sistahood411- The Bond Between Women.
“Many times I noticed how women treated one another, the attitude etc. So I thought to myself ‘why not connect women?’, build bonds so that we actually understand that as women we are on the same boat, no-one is better than the other and we go through similar life experiences so what makes you better than the next women?! I thought if we could create a platform where we are able to address these issues that we face as women in our daily lives, we would be one step closer to realizing our goals”, said Yamnkela.

According to the Cape Town based model/vocalist, Sistahood411 is an organisation made up of a collective of creative ‘sistas’ designed to equip and empower young girls between the ages of 13- 18 years old, at schools, churches and within their communities by hosting workshops/seminars where they are able to come together and engage.
‘We play the role of an intermediary between young girls and their necessities through donations, sponsorship and fundraising. We offer shadowing programs in our different fields as the bigger "sistas" such as photography, film and music production, fashion design, modelling, marketing and education”, she said.

More than anything else, this unique initiative brought about a sense of fulfilment for Yamnkela.
“Sistahood411 has been such an eye opener for me and it has brought me nothing but happiness and peace. Yes it’s not easy doing something that you do not get paid for but I believe it will all pay off in God's time”, said Yamnkela.

For the Marketing Management graduate from Boland College in Stellenbosch, her efforts to make a difference in the world do not end there as she has in recent times also decided to invest in artist management.
“I recently ventured into Artistic Management which is something similar to what I drew up in my business plan years ago. The idea is to create a platform for artists and models to actually utilise their craft at a price. For a long time I merged with people that said they wanted to give me exposure but the truth is exposure doesn't put food on the table.
“So I'm saying let’s promote our artists and models, enough of the exposure! Let us share the resources we have amongst each other and see how best we can develop. So artists come to me and I would write their bio's, do shoots, recordings, book gigs, set up shows and market manage their careers”, she said.

The beauty also took the time to retrace her footsteps gave us an idea of how her journey (including music) took shape.
“I started out small, I imagined myself as a model at one point, and I remember at the age of 16 my neighbour coming to me asking me to help her with a photoshoot because her model was nowhere to be found. She was working on her portfolio at the time wanted to work for Revlon Teen (at this time they were introducing Revlon Teen in S.A) unfortunately she never got the job and I never got to make it to the Boards. As time went by I started associating myself with some of the artists and creatives from Khayelitsha and before I knew it, most photographers wanted to work with me. I started off as a nudist and eventually I got to represent local designers, brands, businesses etc.  I was able to work around my situation because I did not have the money to pay for a photographer so I built relations that would work for both parties.
“In no time the circle was getting bigger. People started recognising me. At first they used to see me around at the parties and so forth but no one knew what it was exactly that I did. I was then introduced to musicians, poets, dancers etc. Last year around this time I got into a partnership with Siyabonga Mbaba who is the founder of the Ghetto Session. Ghetto Sessions is a fuse of poetry, soul, afropop and hip-hop.
“So we would meet up at Lookout Hill which is now a tourism centre, every Friday and we would just "Jam" and that’s when I realised that I could also work on my music now because I did study music at school as an extra subject (Classical Music to be exact) so basically I'm a vocalist. I met a producer who is a musician himself (Marley Planga) at the Sessions who is now working with me on a single titled ‘NdiyaVuma’ and  maybe I'll be ready to put out an album next year. I'm also looking at working with some big names such as MilliBala who is a good friend of mine and a Deep House Dj in November”, she said.

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