On the 27th of April, our country celebrates Freedom Day; a national holiday that commemorates the first democratic election that took place in 1994. Today, 24 years later, the day encompasses far more than simply the liberating event that took place on that day. Freedom Day is a time that we celebrate our freedom which is the ‘power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.’
Our country is a melting-pot of diversity and it is through the colourful expression of its people that the Rainbow Nation is nurtured and fuelled. We chatted to three influencers in three diverse fields about how they exercise their right to Freedom through expressing themselves. This is what they shared with us…
Siraaj is the head chef at Bouchon Bistro in cape town. He has over 15 years experience as a chef and has worked at leading restaurants in the Cape Winelands, Dubai and Riyadh.
Your form of expression…
I didn’t know that I liked to cook. I studied IT at first. After completing my studies I went in search of a job only to discover that the IT market was flooded. I was helping my dad out with his company at the time when he asked me if I want to go to chef’s school. It came as a strange suggestion. ‘Why would I want to do that?’ I asked him and he responded, ‘because you’re always in the kitchen cooking and you look like you are enjoying it.’ I had never realised it or even considered a career in the culinary arts. I gave it some thought and told my dad that I’d visit one of the schools and see what it’s about. I went in and chatted to one of the lecturers and later enrolled. It wasn’t long before I was placed in a restaurant as part of one of my modules. My first day in the kitchen I knew that this is where I am supposed to be.
Since the early days as a wet-behind-the-ears chef at D’Vine restaurant in Somerset West to my last role in Riyadh as an executive chef, I have been able to extend my scope beyond the kitchen to also working as an operations manager, F&B manager, and to front of house as well. In Riyadh, I built the restaurant up from nothing; we had just a bare building and I took the project on from there.
In every kitchen I’ve worked in I have had the opportunity to express myself. The dish that arrives at your table is not simply a clever combination of ingredients, skill, and flavour; it goes way beyond that. In order to produce a fantastic dish, the entire kitchen has to work together in harmony. It’s like an orchestra; there needs to be harmony. Conducting the kitchen, much like bringing together the instruments in an orchestra, is how I express myself.
As an artist, Shinji works across multiple disciplines including Illustration, Graphic Design, Graffiti/Murals, Audio Production, Wordsmithery, Animation as well as Photography. He has been involved in numerous projects over the course of his career, from humble start-ups and non-profits to large corporations and brands. Shinji is passionate about the energy and time that he infuses into his work and firmly believes in the ability of the arts to transform and uplift not only the artist but the people that experience it.
His form of expression…
As an artist, expression and it’s unabridged freedom is essential to my existence.
It’s as important to me as water or oxygen. I believe that the medium used is significantly less important than the act of moving energy and channelling flow.
Whether I’m writing, painting, drawing or constructing audioscapes and music – each outlet allows me to explore and reaffirm my internal dialogue. It’s allows me to channel and transform my doubts, fears, thoughts and dreams into tangible and shareable experiences that hopefully motivate and inspire others to do the same. I’m able to explore the subtleties of my personality and its less easily describable aspects with an instrument that doesn’t judge me if I play out of tune or colour outside the lines. I’m able to constantly redefine and reimagine the limitations of what I want to experience in this world.
It’s far too easy to just accept everything that you’re shown and given…Once you start questioning yourself and how you relate to the world around you, that’s when you become an active participant in redefining our shared future.
Leandra is a vibrant hair stylist and the co-owner of Pause Hair and Body and Repeat After Me Pop-Up Collective. She also the founder of the beautiful clothing brand, Nomad.
Expression for Leandra means…
It has always been hard for me to stick to the “rules” when it came to hair. I guess I could say this for my life in general. Relating to clients in all seasons, I’ve build a beautiful relationship with an inside-out approach to beauty. When I created Nomad and Pause, I had normal people in mind that wanted to explore all angles of who they are. A space/style/outfit to meet you where you are at, body mind and soul. No expectations. No judgement.
I find inspiration in travel and adventure. Almost like finding pieces of yourself in foreign places. Feeling small yet significant at the same time. I express myself through the things that I love – maybe its better explained the other way round in that I am an expression of what is around me and the adventures I undertake. It is in embracing those moments that I come to learn more about what I love and through that process of discovery the expression of who I am emerges more and more.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”
– Martha Graham