14-18 OCTOBER, 2019


SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES (Alphabetical order)

Amir Sheikh

Amir Sheikh is the chairperson of the Somali Community Board of South Africa and COO Township Business Development.  A native of Somalia and a resident in South Africa from 2003, he started business with the sale and distribution of consumer goods to migrant-owned SMMEs in the townships of Gauteng, before venturing into high demand goods for the established market.  Troubled by attacks on foreign-owned businesses, he founded the Somali Community Board of South Africa together with like-minded colleagues in 2007, with the aim of integrating Somali businesses more effectively into the townships and informal settlements where they operate, and helping them set up bulk-buying facilities and distribution centres.

Boitumelo Modise

Boitumelo Modise is a B-Tech drama graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology and has worked in the Media and Entertainment Industry in various capacities for 6 years.  She recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration at the Wits University Business School, and generally operates as a freelance artist.

Carien Smith

Carien Smith is a writer and academic currently residing Johannesburg. In her creative work, she mainly works in the genres of short fiction and theatre.  In academic work, her research focus is in philosophy and literature, specifically on climate change ethics, the apocalypse, absurdity and value theory.

Carla Lever

Dr Carla Lever is a cultural anthropologist and performance scholar at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, UCT. Her current research uses performance theory to contextualise South African political spectacle, with a particular focus on protest movements. Her interdisciplinary PhD, undertaken at the University of Sydney, examined the performative nature of national identities under former President Jacob Zuma, exploring embodied socio-political phenomena such as public art interventions, sport and political rallies.  She is also a journalist, having worked as the Editor of ‘First Thing’ at Daily Maverick, collected a Silver BASA Award in 2012 for opinion writing in arts journalism, been one of ten African journalists awarded a residence fellowship to the 2018 Theaterformen German performance festival and contributed regular theatre reviews and opinion pieces to South African and international publications. Her current weekly column, published in the Sowetan, Herald and Sunday Times, focusses on highlighting the work of cultural activists.  In 2019, she is engaged in a collaborative project on statue-based protest in the United States and South Africa, funded by the American Society of Theatre Research. She lectures a course in protest and social change and is currently completing a book manuscript understanding the role of performativity in social activism.

Coleen Vogel

Coleen Vogel is a climatologist by training working in the social dimensions of climate change, focusing particularly on climate change adaptation. She has chaired and been the vice chair of international global environmental change scientific committees (e.g. IHDP and LUCC and involved in the Earth System Science Programme), groups that preceded the current Future Earth developments. She currently serves on various international boards including the World Weather Research Programme of the World Meteorological Organization.  She has assisted in several government-related development activities in South Africa and was a contributor to the Disaster Management Act process in South Africa. She was one of the chapter lead authors of the Fourth IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Africa Chapter and part of the final synthesis author panel of that report and was a chapter author contributing to the 5th Assessment of the IPCC, working on a chapter dealing with Human Security. A Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the author team together with Al Gore for the efforts made in compiling the 4th assessment report. She has also received the Burtoni Award for international excellence in adaptation research and received the University of the Witwatersrand Vice Chancellor’s teacher’s award for excellence in teaching. Her current research interests include working in the social and physical dimensions of climate change including helping to build and enhance robust responses to environmental change, effective climate change responses and efforts in disaster risk reduction. Allied to such themes are efforts in improved understanding on social learning and transformative education at various levels and with various groups.

 Fraser McNeill

Fraser McNeill is an Associate Professor in the University of Pretoria’s Department of Anthropology.  He obtained his PhD in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2007 based on a decade of ethnographic work in the Venda region of South Africa, investigating the relationship between music, traditional leadership, AIDS education, female initiation and poisonings.  His thesis was awarded the Audrey Richards Prize in the United Kingdom and was published as AIDS, Politics and Music in South Africa by Cambridge University Press. Outside of the academy, Fraser plays guitar and sings in a reggae band.

Gauta Komane

After graduating with a law degree from the University of the North (now Limpopo) years ago, Gauta worked for the justice department as a prosecutor and presiding magistrate for 10 years. He left the profession to participate in helping the African National Congress to restructure, transform and reorient state institutions in the North West province. He also worked in the economic transformation subcommittee of the ANC for six years, to monitor the strategic planning and implementation of microeconomic policies, including land restitution, distribution and tenure reform.

Gauta has a consulting background and provides professional services through his company VIOL Pty Ltd. It has done various projects in the field of municipal transformation, integrated development planning, revenue enhancement and local economic development (LED).

Three years ago, Gauta worked for the University of Pretoria’s Enterprise business unit as lecturer in the Municipal Financial Management Programme, which equipped provincial and municipal officials with planning, budgeting, implementation and reporting skills.

At the moment he provides business development services such as to facilitate investment into underutilized communally owned farmland in various towns in the North West through feasibility studies, business planning and related business services.

Hein Gerwel

Heinrich Gerwel was born in December 1975 and grew up in the Cape Flats township of Belhar. He attended Garlandale Senior Secondary in Athlone and after matriculating with an A aggregate in 1993, pursued a B.Sc. Degree, majoring in Chemistry and Economics at Rhodes University. He also studied at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch and worked as a professional cook until 2005. He thereafter returned to more academic pursuits, completing a B. Econ. Honours and M. Econ. In Development Studies (both cum laude) at the Institute for Social Development at the University of the Western Cape. He is currently completing a PhD through the Department of Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University. He has more than ten years of teaching experience at university level, having taught at UWC, UCT, and since September 2017, at Stellenbosch University.

Heinrich also has strong links with community involvement, as a director of the National Foundations Dialogue Initiative, trustee and executive committee member of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation, partner of the Jakes Gerwel Fellowship run by the Alan Gray Orbis Foundation, and an active member of the Athlone-based Avendale Cricket Club. Apart from these affiliations, he is also active with the promotion of the arts through his association with the Suidooster Fees and assisting numerous informal grassroots initiatives in Delft, Bonteheuwel and also Bonnievale. Heinrich also regularly contributes to public discourse through the popular Afrikaans media, regularly appearing on RSG and writing opinion pieces for Die Burger, but also in English language publications like City Press.

Kyla Davis

Kyla Davis is a director, producer, theatremaker, performer and Climate Justice activist. Born in Johannesburg and a graduate of the National School of the Arts, she moved to London at 17 where she trained at The School of Physical Theatre under Ron East, a Jaques Lecoq-taught pedagogue. She is the Director of Well Worn Theatre Company, an independent physical theatre company best known for creating and producing trailblazing plays around eco-social themes most notably ‘Planet B’ and the award-winning ‘The Baobab’. She was selected as one of eleven African artists in the Africa Centre’s 2013 Artist-in-Residence programme and spent three months at NosadellaDue Residency for Public Art in Bologna. While in Italy, Kyla collaborated with avant-garde performance collective ‘Folle Amore’, the resident theatre company at the revolutionary Teatro Valle Occupato in Rome. It was in Italy that she developed a deep love for the Ensemble, an interest which she explores as Director of ‘Swarm Theory’, an experimental, process-driven choral performance alongside collaborator Daniel Buckland and a chorus of twenty. Kyla won the Arts and Culture Trust ImpAct Award for Theatre in 2010 and was recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s 100 Women of 2010 and 200 Young People in 2011 for her work with Well Worn. Kyla is passionate about theatre for young audiences and was part of the driving force behind the Theatre4Youth Project for ASSITEJ South Africa. From 2013 to 2015, Well Worn Theatre Company was the company-in-residence at the National School of the Arts Theatre in Braamfontein. More recently, Kyla has produced three new touring eco-theatre productions under Well Worn’s ‘Theatre Activism’ banner, funded by the National Lotteries Commission. These include ‘Plastocracy’ (which she also directed), ‘Galela’ and ‘Burning Rebellion’. These productions have so far been seen by close to 100 000 audience members across South Africa.

Mary Crewe

Mary Crewe is the Director of the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G) at the University of Pretoria.  Her background is in education and sociology and has lectured for many years on education and development, social and critical theory and the political economy of education.  She established the CSA&G in 1999 and guided its growth and evolution as an internationally recognised organisation, renowned for critical and innovative thinking in its research, programme development and implementation.  Mary was instrumental in setting up work and links across Africa and internationally with the SADC Parliamentary Forum, networks of women living with HIV in Africa, the Ethical Globalisation Initiative, Parliamentarians for Women’s Health and the internationally-focused Critical HIV&AIDS Research Initiative (CHARI).  She is a popular local and international speaker and advisor to UN agencies, governments and other development sectors.  Mary was the co-chair of the Durban 2000 International AIDS conference for Track D: Social Impact and on the organising committee for the International AIDS Conference in Barcelona in 2001.  She also served on the organising committee for the 2003 South African AIDS Conference and co-chaired the 2016 South African AIDS Conference. Mary has authored books on AIDS and is widely published in academic and other popular publications.

Motsumi Makhene

Motsumi Makhene is the Executive Partner and Director at the Institute for African Innovation and Associates, responsible for consolidating Youth Workforce and Entrepreneurship Development strategies in partnership with the Soweto-based Funda Community College.  His current assignment is to reposition the Funda College community education curriculum to implement the establishment of its Centre for Enterprise Innovation.  The Centre is the first Community Youth Incubation implementing refocused curricula in Renewable Energy (specialising in solar technology), Creative Industries and Enterprise Development Training.  He has nearly forty years’ experience as a community arts educationist and thirty years’ experience as a cultural policy analyst and strategist.  Creatively, Motsumi works as an arranger, composer, poet and visual artist.

Nomsa Mazwai

Nomsa Mazwai is the General Manager of the Soweto Theatre, a member of the Johannesburg group of theatres that includes the Joburg Theatre and the Roodepoort Theatre. A Fulbright Scholar, Nomsa completed her MA at Fordham University in New York with a distinction in Political Analysis in 2012.  Her previous working experience includes Head of Communications of the National Stokvel Association and founding director of Emthonjeni Arts (formerly the Hamburg Artists’ Retreat).  A musician in her own right, Nomsa won the South African Music Award for Best African Alternative Album in 2011, two years before she was listed in the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans compilation.

Siona O’Connell

Siona O’Connell is a Professor in the University of Pretoria’s School of the Arts.  Until recently, she was the NEH Professor of the Humanities in Africana and Latin American Studies, Art, and Art History and Film and Media Studies at Colgate University in the USA.  She has published widely, curated numerous exhibitions and directed and produced 7 films that consider ways of life after racial oppression in South Africa. These include two films on forced removals and restitution, An Impossible Return and Uitgesmyt, as well as a film on the African National Congress, Promises and Lies: Faultlines of the ANC.  O’Connell co-edited Hanging on a wire: Photographs by Sophia Klaase which won the 2018 Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Best Non-Fiction Edited Volume. Her book, ‘An Impossible Return: Cape Town’s Forced Removals’ has recently been published by Kwela Press.

Siseko Kumalo

Siseko holds an Honours Degree in Philosophy and Political and International Studies from Rhodes University. He received his undergraduate degree in Political and International Studies and Anthropology from Rhodes and is finalising his Master of Arts in Political Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. His area of focus is in education decolonisation in South Africa and he has subsequently authored a number of papers investigating the topic. He has published with Education as Change, Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL) and in the Journal of Literary Studies. Siseko is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Decolonising Disciplines, a journal dedicated to decolonising disciplinary knowledge across faculties in higher education. His research focuses on epistemic justice, pedagogies of mutual (in)fallibility, feminist and queer theory, violence, Education for Sustainable Development and higher education transformation. Through his research, which is inspired by the objective of substantive engagement with Indigenous epistemes in the South African university, he has commendably contested Eurocentric institutional cultures. Siseko serves on the Literary Association of South Africa’s Executive Committee and is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar (2017).


Javett Arts Centre, 23 Lynnwood Road, Hatfield, Pretoria

Future Africa: Take the South Street entrance to the University of Pretoria Sports Complex, pass through a second boom to the Experimental Farm, and follow this road to the Future Africa Campus on the right (about 1,5km from the second boom).  Signs will direct you to the venue.

Contact CAST

Please send us an email if you have any queries about our programme.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search