Jay Caboz – Zimeo Finalist in two Catergories

I am glad to announce that I am a finalist in two categories at the ZIMEO “Excellence in Media” Awards Finalists List. Thanks once again to Forbes Africa for sending me all over the continent to write the stories I want.

Nairobi, 28th October 2015Finalists in the first edition of the Zimeo “excellence in Media” Awards have been announced today following a rigorous judging process led by independent pan-African panels of judges.

This is the first edition of the awards, which were launched by the African Media Initiative (AMI) in June 2015, to recognize excellence in journalism by rewarding stories that demonstrate high standards of professionalism and speak to the continent’s development issues. The awards received a total of 557 entries from 41 countries across the continent, from Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone Africa.

ZIMEO “Excellence in Media” Awards Finalists List

TECHNOLOGY

Jean Pierre Afadhali, The East African, Rwanda

“Rwanda ups measures for Internet to curb the abuse of Children Online”

Jay Caboz, Forbes International, South Africa

“A Rat Race Against Death”

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Wacera Ngunjiri, Africa 24 Media, Kenya

“Cape town Gunshot detection system”

Adeline Tchouakak,  Le Messager, Cameroon

“Les réseaux sociaux pour remplacer les médias classiques ?”

THE MARITIME ECONOMY

Jay Caboz, Forbes Africa Magazine, South Africa

The Dead Port That Rose Again

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Wanjohi Kabukuru, New African Magazine, Kenya

“President Michel: Oceans Fundamental to Africa’s Existence” & “A Parable Of Success

George Sunguh, Our Ports Magazine, Kenya

“PMAESA Ports Increase Capacity Ahead of Demand”

 

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Powerful #FeesMustFall images from South Africa

Location: Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa

On assignment for Forbes Africa Magazine  to cover the #FeesMustFall campaign

We went expecting drama, and we got it. On the back of the growing #FeesMustFall campaign, thousands of University students protested on the banks of the Union Buildings in an effort to reduce fee increases which were set to rise as much as 10%.

As the bangs of of stun grenades met the cheers of students taunting police, Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, met with University officials and student leaders to negotiate terms. It was a case of too little too late as an isolated group of 50 students ran riot, fueled by frustration, setting toilets, cars and tyres alight. The group tore down the fence blockading the national landmark and pelted police with wrenches, rocks and pretty much anything they could find.

By the time tear gas canisters were launched into the air, the president was to announce that an settlement of a 0% fee increase for 2016 was reached. The crowd was yet to be informed.

The scene was bizarre. Among all this violence, the atmosphere beyond was light hearted and  relaxed.  I caught a number of students, standing next to the inferno, with people launching projectiles over the fence,  posing for selfies.

It was unfortunate that the thousands of other students, who were for the most part peacefully attending the protest, were caught in the peppery gas. In my view, the crowd was dispersed in the nick of time: I had seen three students preparing petrol bombs from an the abandoned generator left behind by the TV. Things could have gotten far worse.

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“This was the moment the police line broke and all hell broke loose” says Photojournalist @jaycaboz on his photo taken today at the #UnionBuildings #FeesMustFall protests. This on the back of President Jacob Zuma agreeing to a 0% fee increase for 2016.

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A small group of students led the violence outside the Union Buildings. The tension grew as the crowd got bolder, beginning with burning tyres and throwing projectiles.

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Students then grabbed toilets and set those alight.

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Among the bizarre, were students posing for selfies while behind them more fuel was fed to the inferno.

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More posing for the camera, while the smoke engulfs the hill.

 

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Illustrating my point. Here are students standing with a placard…

 

 

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…next to them are other students throwing rocks at the police.

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This was the moment the police line broke and all hell broke loose. After a wave of rocks, wrenches and bottles were thrown at them the police were forced back. Seconds later, the razor wire barrier came.

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After the students gained their foothold they began to destroy the police vehicles, ultimately leading to the tear gas.

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Students flee from the tear gas.

 




 

 

Anti-Corruption March — Photos

Location: Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa

The Unite Against Corruption march came and went on a hot Pretoria Wednesday. Among 2,000 people were various political leaders, priests and leaders of NGOs prepared to sweat it out in front of the Union Buildings.

According to their website corruption has cost South Africa R700 billion in the last 20 years.

The auditor general has reported in excess of R2,6 billion unauthorized expenditure and a further R62,7 billion in irregular expenditure for the period 2013-14.

The Special Investigating Unit estimated that as much as 20-25% of state procurement expenditure, amounting to around R30 billion a year, is wasted through over payment and corruption.

Only 23 people were convicted of corruption or offences related to corruption where the benefit case is more than R5 million.

 

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Cover Shoot – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union

FWA 2015 Aug-Sep OFC

Portrait – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union by Jay Caboz.

Portrait – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union.

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – The Radisson, Sandton, South Africa

It isn’t a day like any other when you get to meet the most powerful woman in Africa.

I need to say off the bat that a photoshoot with such a prestigious leader doesn’t happen by chance. The Forbes Africa Woman team try to the best of their ability to plan for shoots and come up with concept that can both emulate the subject matter as well as make them look great.

Politicians, I suppose like most people who are famous, I don’t know why this is, have little time to spare when it comes to photographs. I have lost count the number of times we have dealt with figures in the public eye and they assume we can work magic in five minutes or less.  But we try our best to get what we can.

To reveal a little of what goes on behind the scenes: I had been on standby,  for this shot,  for several months. Literally we were told that this photoshoot could happen at any moment and that we were to drop everything we were doing and get it done. The only other time I have been on standby like this was when Nelson Mandela died. This was the level of importance we placed into this shoot.

Even still, it came as a surprise when at 6pm our editor Methil Renuka, calls us on from her holiday in Kerala, India, to tell us that the photoshoot would happen the next morning. Such is the dedication and drive of this team that we are always on our phones.

Over a scratchy public telephone line, from who knows where in the jungle, Renuka says: “It’s happening Jay, tomorrow. The shoot’s tomorrow.I can’t hear you but she’s coming tomorrow. Can you hear me????? Jay? …
” then line drop — received in a furniture store parking lot as we were closing up shop with the inside fashion shoot and squeezing lights back into the boot of Kris with a K, our art director’s, Renault Megan.

So the Forbes Africa Team had less than 24 hours.  We were to be given 45 minutes. Then the emails and phone calls began.

If you are familiar with the media business, it can take weeks to organize the personnel needed to organize a shoot. It is a near on impossible to organize lights, a stylist, make up artist, venue, snacks, photographer and an assistant in 24 hours. But we did it.

Luckily with such a big name many people are willing to drop what they are doing to collaborate. The Radisson, in Sandton, graciously lent us their penthouse suite for the day to set up lights and plan the shoot.

We were able to get into the venue, set up lights and be ready in time for her excellency. Time is the key word word here.

It took two hours to set up the lights, move the furniture and plan, shot by shot, pose by pose, how we were going to do this to maximize our limited time Dlamini-Zuma.

But no photoshoot goes according to plan. Ever.WP_20150703_001

Remember when I said that we had 45 minutes: Well it took the make up artist 45 minutes. Thus when Dlamini-Zuma came into the room, she should have already have left.

Dlamini-Zuma is wonderful lady, very polite and friendly to talk with. But, it is amazing that someone who is able to stand up in front of millions of people and make a speech can be shy in front of the camera. Our prep work had prepared us for this fact – she’s not a professional model.  That’s part of our job at Forbes Africa, getting the subject to come out of their shell and let their true self shine through.

We introduced ourselves, had a bit of a chit chat to release the tension in the room and got to work. I aim to get the subject to forget about all the people in the room and the bright lights. If you, as the photographer, act professionally, are composed, and act as if  you know what you are doing that confidence will shine through and you can get your subject to relax.

The time flew. We had managed to squeeze a half hour with several poses and interior magazine shots. Dlamini-Zuma shook our hands, said thanks for the photoshoot and ambled out the door.

Time to shoot: 30 minutes

Time to prepare for 30 minute shoot: 2 hours set-up, less than 24 hours to organize a team of helpers, a 45 minute make over and a phone call from India to set it off.

Job done.

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, July 2015 edition

Photographer: Jay Caboz on Instagram


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Portrait – Colin Nathan, Boxing Coach

Portrait -Colin Nathan, Boxing Coach

Article by Forbes Africa Journalist Thobile Hans

Colin Nathan is one of the few people who can say they are living the dream. As a successful boxing trainer, he wakes up every morning and looks forward to going to work.

He shares his beautiful house in Norwood, south of Johannesburg, with his wife Lara, his eight-year-old son Daniel and a new addition to the family, Jamie, who is only two months old. After settling in at his home, we get straight to where it all began for the man some regard as presently the most successful trainer in the country.

“I was only seven years old when I started nagging my father to take me with him to the boxing gym,” he says.

Nathan brightens up and become passionate when he talks about his formative years in boxing while growing up in Cape Town. His father, Stan, was a cutman and worked with boxers like the Whiteboy brothers Chris and Derrick, Sydney Hoho and Bashew Sibaca.

At the Sea Point Boxing Club, the young Nathan fell in love with the hustle and bustle of the boxing gym. His favorite activity was using boxers’ stomachs as punching bag, and the pugilists were happy to let him as he was too small and skinny to hurt them.

In 1988, while in the fourth grade at school, Nathan remembers yelling instructions at the sparring boxers, much to the amusement of everyone in the gym. Noticing his growing passion for the sport, Stan started taking his son to work with him in the corners of his boxers. This was illegal and when noticed in 1990, Stan was forced to register him as a bucket boy. This makes Nathan the youngest bucket man in South African history Nathan’s involvement in boxing deepened when he moved to Johannesburg in 1998 to double up as a television presenter on SABC.

This led to him becoming the youngest boxing commentator in the country at 20 years of age. Another milestone was in 2000 when Nathan, at the age of 22, became the youngest South African to own a boxing gym – the Hot Box Gym in Glenhazel, a north-eastern suburb of Johannesburg. After making a name for himself on television, boxers started approaching Nathan to be their manager. The first professional boxer in his stable was bantamweight, Andries Dick, who won his first five fights under Nathan. His second was Springkaan Khongoane who is still working with Nathan to this day. By this time, Nathan knew he wanted to become a fulltime trainer.

Being relatively young, it was tough convincing the boxing fraternity that he was the real deal. Boxing authorities used to mistake him for a boxer during weigh-ins and he found it difficult to convince promoters to sign his fighters. Around two years later, Khongoane became his first champion when he won the provincial super bantam weight title. With his growing success, former national champions like Tshepo Lefele, Mpush Makambi and Malcolm Klassen started joining his ranks and it became more and more difficult for Nathan to keep his head above the turbulent waters.

He decided to sign up with KO promotions and later with Branco Sports Productions, run by Branco Milenkovic. In 2005, he approached the biggest promoter in the country, Rodney Berman, who told Nathan he didn’t have any boxers he wanted to promote. Berman, however, had a change of heart the following year and signed up the young trainer in the Golden Gloves Promotions family. The rest is history.

“The last eight years have been nothing short of amazing,” says Nathan.

He has great respect for Berman, whom he says is one of his idols. Nathan rubbishes claims that the only reason Berman gave him a chance was because they are both Jewish. At one stage, people even said he was Berman’s nephew, especially when the promoter walked him down the aisle at his wedding. Berman’s faith in Nathan has paid off.

He has since produced world champions like Hekkie Budler, the IBO and WBA strawweight champion and the Ring Magazine’s No.1 ranked boxer in his division, and Zolani Marali, the former WBF junior-welterweight champion. He is also training the highly-rated Ryno Liebenberg who is undefeated in 16 fights. To take his training to the next level, Nathan spent two weeks with Freddie Roach, considered by many to be the world’s greatest trainer, in his Wild Card gym in Los Angeles. So, what did Nathan learn from Manny Pacquiao’s famous trainer?

“Commitment and responsibility,” says Nathan.

He has also met and taken advice from other renowned trainers like Angelo Dundee, who worked with Muhammad Ali, and Teddy Atlas, who worked with Mike Tyson. But does he consider himself the best trainer in South Africa? “In my eyes, yes, I think I am,” he says.

The latest success is Budler. The trainer considers Budler’s win over the dangerous Nkosinathi Joyi as his best achievement.

“Few gave light-hitting Hekkie a chance against the hard-hitting Joyi. But people didn’t know that I briefly worked with Joyi in my gym and I knew his weak points,” he says.

His biggest disappointment was when Budler lost his IBO light flyweight title, his only professional loss, by a split decision to Gideon Buthelezi. Colin Nathan says he was the first in the country to open his gym to commercial clients. He boasts training celebrities like musician Danny K, sport presenter Carol Tshabalala and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane. Although he now is well known in the country, Nathan has his wife and kids to ground him whenever he gets big-headed. To prove the point, he asks his wife who the best boxing trainer in the country is. With a mischievous smile on her face, Lara says “Nick Durandt?”

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – Hot Box Gym  – Glenhazel, Johannesburg South Africa

Nathan’s shoot proved to be quite a challenge. The gym was quite “busy”, not unusual for a boxing gym, with loads of equipment and very low lighting. To eliminate this we went with a shallow depth of field shot and I used two portable flashes at a 45 degree angle to pop him out. It’s kind of standard lighting set up that I am comfortable with in low light situations.

He had these really awesome training gloves, the ones used by coaches for sparring, with his name on them that perfectly summed up who he is and what he does. We went for a strong body position and asked him to flex his muscles a bit.

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, December-January 2014 edition

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Portrait – Vernon Head, Bird Watcher and Architect

Portrait – Vernon Head, Bird Watcher and Architect

Guns, Bats And Biting Insects In The Steamy Darkness

Article by Jay Caboz

It was 6,900 kilometers from home in Cape Town in sweltering, overwhelming, heat of the inky black jungle. Architect and bird watcher, Vernon Head, stood with a spotlight in hand, on a remote jungle mountainside in Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley looking for something few on earth had seen before.
“It’s a strange place at night… You know that not many people have been there, especially at night. Everything that comes into the spotlight, you are never sure it is something new,” he says.
It wasn’t easy in the darkness; the fluorescent light attracted a host of flying creatures. Bats flew in the air, insects stuck in Head’s teeth and stinging flying ants crawled up his legs. This was the hunt for one of Africa’s most elusive animals. Head and his team, carrying nets, looked over their shoulders as they risked gun-wielding villagers, who resented their intrusion. They scoured every bush. This was the hunt for the world’s rarest bird, the Nechisar Nightjar.
The hunt began with a phone call from England. Over the crackling telephone line, Head, who was in Cape Town, heard the story about a roadside relic in a paper bag; a muddy bird’s wing that was found by Cambridge based scientists on safari in 1990.
“On that expedition, three hundred and fifteen species of birds were seen; sixty one species of mammal and sixty nine species of butterfly y were identified; twenty species of dragonflies and damsel flies; seventeen reptile species were recorded; three frog species were fi led; plants were listed. And the wing of a road-killed bird was packed into a brown paper bag,” says Head.
The wing sent the scientific world aflutter.
“Normally to describe a bird species you need the actual bird, which means you need to have seen it. In this case they just had a wing squashed in the mud next to this smugglers track on a plain of the African rift valley in southern Ethiop It became known as the only bird species ever described to science that no one had ever seen,” he says.
For 20 years, experts have tried in vain to catch a glimpse of the nightjar. The wing sat gathering dust in the drawers of the British Natural History Museum in Tring, England. Ian Sinclair, a bird watcher, was on the phone to Cape Town and wanted Head’s help.
“In the field guides that list the birds of Africa, when you go to the nightjar section and get to the part where is says Nechisar Nightjar, you just see a drawing of a wing. Then you look at the map next to the wing [and] there is a little ‘x’ with a question mark. It’s quite exciting; you want to see it… [Sinclair] said to me ‘why we don’t give this a go?’”
It was an $18,000-voyage of discovery that Head, Sinclair and two other bird enthusiasts wouldn’t pass up. Their first port of call was protection; bird watching is strangely fraught with danger.
“In that part of southern Ethiopia, there are still a number of tribes that are remote and their cultures are remote communities detached from the modern world. They still traditionally fight over grazing land. These fights over grazing land, where in the past they used traditional weapons, they are now using AK-47s. It’s never a good idea if you are a bird watcher and you are driving through a valley and on either side are a bunch of people with AK-47s that have a disagreement with each other. You have to have some security. Preferably people from one of the tribes who understand the nuances,” says Head.
Many bird watchers have laid down their lives spotting birds. A tiger killed David Hunt in the Jim Corbett National Park in India; Phoebe Snetsinger survived being raped in New Guinea before dying in a road accident in Madagascar; and Ted Parker died in an air crash on route to Ecuador.
“[Bird watching] is a big ecotourism industry. It’s massive. Bird watching in America makes more money than golf; it’s a $60-billion business. There still are these weird things out there. Nature is quite resilient in our modern day. There are secrets out there in nature waiting to be unraveled,” says Head.
“When I was six or seven, on my grandfather’s farm, I learned to go bird watching on the wild open plains of Northcliff, before it became a city. It’s strange when you drive through it today and you used to run around here and see Burchell’s coucal and aardvark. There was even rumored to be a Leopard in the Roodepoort hills. That’s only some 40 years ago,” says Head.
A world away, in the heat under the stars in southern Ethiopia, Head’s spotlight falls on a very large thorny bush and catches a pair of a golden copper-red reflection: eyes.
“We knew what to look for. We knew it was going to be a nightjar. I mean we’d seen the wing. The bird we saw, funnily enough, was a male, but the wing itself was from a female. We were able to deduce this because of the white in the wing, it was slightly creamier. Male nightjars generally have bigger white patches. And it had this huge white patch in its wing. It made it unlike it was any other nightjar in Africa. There was no doubt.”
After all the 6,500 kilometers, mean insects and the heat, the men couldn’t catch it. The nightjar flew away into the night. Head and his fellow bird watchers continued to record the sighting, a precious notch in the bird watching community. Just another day in the strange and dangerous world of bird watching.

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, February 2015 edition

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Portrait – Edward Moshole, The Unlikely Millionaire

Portrait – Edward Moshole, The Unlikely Millionaire

Edward Moshole was destined for a life as a cleaner in a factory; until inspiration came on a breath of fresh cherry-scented air in a storage room surrounded by detergents. Last year the former cleaner sold 70,000 bottles of detergent a month to the largest retail shopping chains in South Africa, worth about R12 million ($1 million) a year.

“A broomstick is what started my business. It was the only thing that I owned… Getting a job as a cleaner at Enterprise changed my life; them giving me the boots and overalls and saying ‘here clean’. I could feel in my heart I wanted to be something more,” he says.

With humble beginnings in the small township of Gapane, a place few have heard of in the Limpopo province of South Africa, Moshole’s story is uncommon. He grew up without parents from the age of 16 and failed eighth grade five years in a row. Moshole says when he was young he never dreamed he could become a millionaire.

His life changed when he moved to Cape Town to live with his brother. He says the move woke him up. Moshole finished his schooling and became a cleaner in a factory run by food chain Enterprise. In this factory, in a two-square-meter storage room that smelled of cherries; among piles of detergent, bleach, cleaners and soaps, Moshole had an idea.

“Getting into that store room, I could see that the quality doesn’t measure the performance of the cleaners. I could improve things. I could see myself becoming a detergent manufacturing champion,” he says.

It began with $6 and a broom stick says Moshole. The then cleaner went directly to a manufacturer and bought a five-liter bleach bottle. His first sales pitch was short and simple.

“I went to an ordinary person and said ‘look I’ve got detergent, I’ve got cleaner and they go for R15 ($1.20) a litre’,” he says.

Moshole’s part-time business took off. He targeted his co-workers who finished work too late to make it to the shops. A few months later, Moshole began selling door-to-door. He moved to spaza shops and sold to neighbors.

Moshole soon grew tired of the life of a middleman salesman and decided to create his own brand. With the money he earned, he bought a pile of 25-litre spice drums from Enterprise for around $1 each. He spent the following weekends churning detergent with a homemade metal mixer in his backyard.

“At the end of the day my hands were blistered,” he recalls.

For three years, Moshole toiled over his blue spice drums. His brand, Chem-Fresh, garnered the interests of supermarket giant Pick n Pay, owned by Raymond Ackerman, who is ranked 38th on Forbes’ list of richest Africans. It was the big break that Moshole needed.

The deal took seven years to sign. Along the way, Moshole learnt some hard lessons about mass-market production. One of them was to change from an informal backyard business to a formal one. He named his company ‘ebinter’ and started selling his Chem-Fresh products through it. Moshole also learnt he needed to become an accountant as well as a salesman. But it was the competition in the detergent business that was hardest to handle.

“Retail must retain a formal market. It’s tough. You negotiate with a buyer who takes 300 calls a day from others who supply the same product as you. Then there you are competing with the multinationals and then you are competing with the companies who own no-name brands. Your product needs to be cheap and needs to be of a consistent high quality,” says Moshole.

These days, Moshole’s factory in Wynberg, an industrial sector a few kilometers outside of Sandton, is a far cry from his backyard. Thousands of plastic bottles are piled to the ceiling. A $90,000 mixer churns bath soaps and hand wash. Another mixer prepares bleach for the day. Moshole says it takes half an hour to produce 500 liters of Chem-Fresh bleach.

His clientele has now spread across supermarket chains Spar, Pick n Pay, Massmart and Dischem.

Despite landing these promising contracts the detergent maker remains humble. He keeps the broom that he started with as a reminder of where his dreams began, minus the brush which fell off a few years ago.

With $6 and a broomstick, Moshole began selling detergent to his colleagues, bottle by bottle. Now, he sells them in the thousands. What’s more, Moshole proudly claims he has never missed a delivery.

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – Chem-Fresh factory, Wynberg, Johannesburg South Africa

Moshole’s story is one of those rare finds that kind of writes itself. He is one of the most humble men you could ever meet and I wanted that to come through in the image. Moshole had an incredibly genuine smile so we went with it. The background, filled to the rafters with goods, made a convincing setting to speak of where Moshole began and is now.

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine

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#SBSJA15 Young Journalist Winner and Finalist Feature Photo, Runner up in Multimedia Category #SANLAM

Last night was quite epic. There were two Journalism award ceremonies. I think I did pretty well.

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At the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards, #SBSJA15, I was a finalist in the Feature Photography Category, and I walked away with The Young Journalist of the Year Award.

I ALSO was a runner-up at the SANLAM Financial Journalism Awards in the multi-media category.

“When Jay applied for a job at Forbes Africa he had been turned down by two newspapers. It was their loss. In just two years, he has travelled thousands of miles across Africa, slept in the bush on manoeuvres with anti-poaching squads, been charged by an elephant in Zambia, sailed through storms off the Cape, photographed mine detecting rats in Angola and marched with striking platinum miners. He is one of the most thorough, professional and energetic young journalists I have seen in 34 years in this business.” — Chris Bishop, managing Editor at Forbes Africa.

Here some shots from the portfolio I entered:

Dusi Marathon Emmarentia

From: Paddling through Sewage and Facing Guns

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From: Paddling through Sewage and Facing Guns

Dusi Marathon

From: Paddling through Sewage and Facing Guns

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From: Platinum Strike 2014

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From: Platinum Strike 2014

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From: Platinum Strike 2014

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

 

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

 

Chasing Shadows – Fashion Shoot with Forbes Woman Africa June-July 2015

Chasing Shadows – Fashion Shoot with Forbes Woman Africa June-July 2015, out now on shelves

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A behind the scenes set-up of the studio. GLADYS BROWN

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“The ‘Chasing Shadows’ photoshoot came together after weeks of meticulous planning. We wanted to merge the concept of black and white, the clothing style of the season, with photography. After much debate, and a few too many co­ffees, the team finally came up with the concept of using the shadows of the models to complement their bodies and the clothing. It was quite unique in this respect, as we were not only trying to emphasize fashion, but also capture the models in mid-motion, quite like they were chasing their own shadows.”

Thanks to all the people who were part of this collaboration:

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PHOTOGRAPHER JAY CABOZ

PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT MOTLABANA MONNAKGOTLA

STYLIST JESSICA RAMOSHABA

STYLIST’S ASSISTANT NOTHILE KHUMALO

MODELS NICOLE VAN DOUWE AND GLADYS BROWN FROM ALUSHI MODELS

MAKE-UP PAULINAH MANYAMA

 

 

Portrait – Jeanine-Dee and Clint Hartog, Cosplayers

Portrait – Jeanine-Dee and Clint Hartog, Cosplayers

Article by Jay Caboz

It’s a typical Johannesburg day in the suburbs. People are walking their dogs and men sell feather dusters on the sides of the road. A big story here is when the garbage truck comes late. But knock on the door of number 26 Heathfield, Fairlands, and out comes a married couple fully clad in pink and bone armour and ready to battle dinosaurs or gigantic monsters should they threaten this fair land.

On a scorching Johannesburg summer’s day, this was the meeting of Jeanine-Dee and Clint Hartog, a graphic designer and salesman, just two of the many devotees of cosplay. Cos What? Cosplayers are the following who dress as their favorite characters from the ever-growing gaming, anime and comic book industry.

“If you think this is bad, try walking around the whole day at KinCon. Clint sweated so badly people were afraid to go near him by the end of the day,” says Jeanine-Dee.

Cosplay is an idea born in Japan, but took off in America at comic book conventions. The gaming characters rarely fail to turn heads.

“I think it’s becoming a character that you’re ideally a fan of. Mainly cosplayers with other fans that have the same love of games or an anime character. At the end of the day you are a cosplayer,” says the 27-year-old game fan Jeanine-Dee.

“It’s fun to be in the life of that character for that day,” says Clint.

The Hartogs are not your average married couple; their home is like entering a temple to the gods of gaming. Piles of DVDs ring the lounge. Boxes filled with colored materials reach the ceiling and a spare bed is littered with Pokémon plush toys. The crowning glory is the couple’s two TV sets, enshrined by PS3s and gaming gadgets.

“For me, it’s improved my confidence. I used to be very shy. It’s improved my creativity. It’s something that if you are interested in dressing up like Dr Who, then do it. You don’t know where it will end up,” says Jeanine-Dee.

Their custom outfits, made from 3mm to 10mm thick EVA foam, was painstakingly moulded into Helms, Plates, Gauntlets, Waists and Leggings as per the game. In Monster Hunter, ‘Kali’ and ‘Squall’, as they are known in the PSP game, are bounty hunters that take down the monsters to earn rewards. The couple are such big fans of the game they even run their own guild, where they link with other fans on weekends for multiplayer game.

“You can make your outfit from scratch. Or you can buy your costume online or you can even get a seamstress to make your outfit for you. Creating this armor was like a puzzle. We dissected each armor piece and then worked from there. There are basic patterns like for a kimono or a jacket. But basically you have to go from there to make it suit  your own character,” says Jeanine-Dee.

The armor took two solid months of breaking their backs on their lounge floor. It’s a common night for the pair to crawl into their bed with burnt fingers from their glue gun called Grimer, a goo-like Pokémon; covered in layers of paint; and their eyes square from playing games.

For the Hartogs, the blistered fingers and long nights sewing armor were all worth it. At the August KinCon convention, held in Edenvale, Johannesburg, Jeanine-Dee’s outfit won whilst Clint’s placed third in the gaming category.

“It’s nerve-wracking. Normally you have to do a two-minute skit. Basically you have to become the persona of your character; you have to show yourself as that character. When you enter you have to give a reference picture to the judges so that they can see where you are from and if you have the correct detail…Some rules only allow you to enter a cosplay outfit once. At another competition you would have to make a whole new one,” says Jeanine-Dee.

“A lot of guys struggle with their first time. We encourage people to just try it once, even if you just go as a casual cosplay. Just try it once and see if you like it. We look at our first cosplay pictures and we think to ourselves why did we wear that? It was so terrible. But we’ve grown our skills since then,” says Clint.

If nothing else, Jeanine-Dee and Clint are dedicated. They have been fans of cosplay for several years. The couple even went as far as taking a road trip to Port Elizabeth (PE), a 1,000 kilometer journey, for a convention. The drive down was an unusual affair as Jeanine spent most of the trip embroidering their outfits. When they emerged from the parking lot, their cosplays nearly blew away in the city’s notorious gusty wind, a hazard for any want-to-be cosplayer.

“We were the only ones from Jo’burg, so when people were asking us where we were from, we would start by saying ‘we’re from a game called…’and they would say ‘no no no, like where are you from in South Africa’ and we would say Jo’burg. They were really excited. We were the only guys who said we would go and we actually managed the distance,” says Clint.

“I suppose you could say we will go the distance for cosplay,” says Jeanine- Dee with a cheeky smile behind her Rathian Heart U armor. In the meantime, the couple has lots of work to do. Plans for an outfit that will show in Cape Town in the first Saturday of May have already begun.

“Clint and I have done a lot of gaming characters this year. A lot of people say we are gaming cosplayers, so next year we are going to spice things up. It might mean a female Loki popping up,” says Jeanine-Dee. Their neighbors will surely be on the lookout to catch a glimpse of the couple on their next adventure in the ever-safe suburb of Fairlands.

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – Kali Kitty Cosplay  – Fairlands, Johannesburg South Africa

I will proudly admit that I am an Anime and game lover. I go absolutely gaga when it comes to watching the stuff. So when you get the opportunity to feature something in a magazine that you love, you put in that extra effort.

I met Kali Kitty Cosplay at rAge 2014, they had dragged two of their friends to the event to make a quadrofactor of Legend of Zeldas. AND so their story began. Cosplay has without a doubt exploded in South Africa. Every rAge I go to there are more and more people dressing as their favorite characters, who knows maybe one day I will don a Naruto outfit and strut around.

Jeanine and Clint were awesome to work with. Trust me when I say their outfits are no joke. Every piece of armor is painstaking made form scratch.  So it made complete sense to do the photo shoot in their home, where it all takes place.

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, December-January 2014 edition

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