Lebogang Mashile it was while she was studying law and international relations at Wits University in Johannesburg that the desire to work as an artist took hold of her.
Lebo began to achieve recognition as one of South Africa’s most popular young artists in 2002 when her hip-hop inspired poetry began to capture a large audience.
In 2003 she co-founded the “Feel a Sistah!” Spoken Word Collective alongside Myesha Jenkins, Ntsiki Mazwai and Napo Masheane, which rapidly gained widespread popularity.
Just one year later Mashile made her acting début in the Oscar nominated film “Hotel Rwanda” and performed at the inauguration of former president Thabo Mbeki. Moreover, she was the presenter and producer of the television programme “L’Atitude”, a concept that she co-executive produced with Curious Pictures.
Throughout its three seasons and seventy-eight episodes she crisscrossed the country and introduced the viewers to the personal stories of a diverse cross section of South Africans.
The series reached an audience of over two million households and went on to be nominated for two South African Film and Television Awards.
Her lyrical and gutsy poems in the collection “A Ribbon of Rhythm” (2005) also speak about life in the new South Africa.
Issues such as the diversity and unity of the “Rainbow Nation”, the status of women, violence and the fragility of individuals are all treated with a sense of urgency, humour and at times with melancholy and a certain rawness.
Mashile’s self-produced album “Lebo Mashile Live!” combines her performance poetry with hip-hop, house and R&B.
In 2006 she was awarded the prestigious Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, the premier prize for literature from the African continent.
The Jury characterized her poetry as of “a distinct oral flavour, developing oral poetry and performance beyond the boundaries of the poetry of the era of resistance”.
In 2007, she was the recipient of the City Press/ Rapport Woman of Prestige Award alongside prominent South African women such as DA leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and the legendary musician, Dorothy Masuka.
In June of 2008, Mashile published her second anthology entitled “Flying Above the Sky”. This collection marks the poet’s first foray into self-publishing, a decision she undertook in order to own the copyright to her own work.
Her latest collection contains a far more mature and personal voice and deals with Mashile’s signature themes of gender, identity, spirituality, love and socio-political conditions in South Africa.
In October of 2008, Mashile wrote and performed in a cross-media and cross-generational collaboration with renowned choreographer Sylvia Glasser entitled ‘Threads’.
This fusion of poetry, music and dance was created in celebration of Moving Into Dance Mophatong’s 30th anniversary. In July of 2009, ‘Threads’ was staged at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and Mashile was bestowed with the honour of being the keynote speaker at the National Schools Festival.
In 2010, ‘Threads’ was performed in Zimbabwe at the Harare international Festival of the Arts and in Durban at the Jomba Dance Festival.
In 2009, she was one of five prominent South Africans who were asked by the Mail & Guardian to write ‘The State of the Nation’ address, a parallel commentary to the president’s annual highly anticipated address.
In June of 2009, she was invited to perform at the opening of Parliament, and in August of the same year she performed for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Mahlambandlovu, the presidential guesthouse.
In November of 2009, Mashile participated in Beyond Words, a ground – breaking, cross-generational fusion of South African poetry that travelled to six cities in England.
Lebogang Mashile-Motivational Speaker performed alongside celebrated South African poets Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, Dr. Don Mattera, and the Poet Laureate of South Africa, Prof. Keorapetse Kgositsile.
The year closed with Mashile performing for more than 200 million people worldwide at the FIFA World Cup Draw.
From 2008 to 2009, Mashile was seen on South African television screens as the presenter of ‘Drawing the Line’, a game show on SABC2 that examines the moral fibre of South Africa.
In 2010, the show’s second season was nominated for a South African Film and Television Award. In 2009 and 2010, Mashile was a judge for the Sunday Times Literary Awards in the fiction category.
This is the most prestigious literary prize in South Africa. In March of 2010, In a Ribbon of Rhythm, Mashile’s first award winning collection of poetry was published in Germany in translation. In July of 2011, the poet participated in the 26th annual Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia.
The poet is currently an ambassador for the Film and Publication Board’s “Say NO to Child Pornography” Campaign alongside songstress Yvonne Chaka Chaka and actor Meshack Mavuso. She has also been a Youth Ambassador for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) since 2009.
Lebogang Mashile-Motivational Speaker can currently be seen every week presenting Etv’s Great Expectations a live talk show dealing with issues around pregnancy, parenting and early childhood development.
Mashile’s written views and opinions have been published in City Press, O magazine (South Africa), Ymag, True Love magazine and Mail & Guardian.
Mashile is often invited to offer social commentary on a wide range of issues in the South African media.
As and artist and personality, Lebo Mashile has featured on numerous covers of South African entertainment and lifestyle magazines and was voted one of South Africa’s Awesome Women of 2005 by Cosmopolitan Magazine.
In 2006, 2007 and 2009 she was named one of the Top 100 youth in South Africa by the Mail & Guardian.
In the same years, she was also named one of the top women in South Africa by the same publication.
At the end of 2006, Mashile was named the top personality in television by The Star in their annual Top 100 list.
Lebogang Mashile-Motivational Speaker was named the Woman of the Year for 2010 in the category of Arts and Culture by Glamour magazine.
She has appeared beyond South Africa, to date in Kenya, Austria, Colombia, Germany, Cuba, Jamaica, Ireland, Zimbabwe, the United States, Swaziland, Lesotho Botswana, Britain, Mozambique, Algeria, Malawi and Switzerland.
JOURNEY TO THE CORE
RECITES HER POEM