UDubs Got Talent: Joint 2017 Champions Qhawekazi Mlungu & Bulelani Ntengu
Season 5 of UDubs Got Talent - the University of the Western Cape’s biggest talent competition - kicked off in style recently with hopeful artists turning up in big numbers for the first auditions of the year.
There is good reason for the enthusiastic and widespread interest in the competition.
Since the contest was started in 2014, it has been a stepping stone for budding performing artists towards realising their dreams. For instance, Season 1 winners, singing duo Zuko Matebese and Sethu Ndondo, went on to be accepted in the South African Youth Choir; runner-up Sivuyisiwe Silinga has released many singles and shot her first hip-hop music video recently; Season 2 winner Vunene Mabunda is now an acclaimed gospel performer; and Madisa Hlompang has released his first single titled "Ndizokulinda". A jazz band called The 7th Voicealso emerged from the project...and the list goes on.
The Season 4 contest marked another year of excitement and entertainment, showcasing aspiring talent and featuring various genres of entertainment such as singing, dance, acting, poetry, rap and the battle of the DJs.
Season 4 ended with a surprise twist - two deserving champions were crowned: first-year student Qhawekazi Mlungu and second-year student Bulelani Ntengu.
One of the winners – Bulelani – is a BSc Medical Bioscience student whose talent is singing his way into people’s hearts.
“One day I want to become a leading doctor and heal the lives of many,” he says – and with the big and bold voice that he has, brightening lives is certainly possible.
“I feel so overwhelmed,” shares fellow winner, aspiring actress (and Miss SA University 2017 finalist) Qhawekazi. “I honestly wasn't expecting to win, but all I was praying for was to be able to deliver my story well.”
The highly committed Arts student will still be working hard on her academics, but will have other exciting opportunities ahead: “I am looking forward to working with a lot of artists, poets, singers, as well as actors, in a whole lot of productions.”
The talent show now embodies more than the goal of discovering aspiring talent, which it first focused on.
“We started UDubs Got Talent in 2014,” explains Sibusiso Njeza, UWC ResLife Coordinator: Community Engagement and Cultural Life – a talented performer in his own right, and winner of the Best Composer Awards at the National Choir Music Awards. “The production took a different angle this time around; it was more professional than usual - which is a sign of growth.”
The growth of the show has been tremendous – they’ve picked up sponsorship from Nedbank, Red Bull, and others, and have begun accommodating the whole campus by taking the show to the main hall rather than hosting it in the residences. There are even plans in the works for the programme to establish a bursary fund to finance talented individuals who come from humble backgrounds.
“The long-term plan is to create part-time employment and a career alternative for our talented students,” Njeza adds. “It was inspired by the fact that we believe that there is talent that few are recognising on this campus - and I am glad that we were proved correct.”
Just how correct was shown when the show brought forth four generations of UDUBS Got Talent finalists to showcase their skills - Sivuyisiwe "SLK" Silinga (also a judge) was a finalist in the 1st season, Bathandwa "B" Bandla was a finalist in the 2nd season, and Grace Shai was a finalist and the winner of Season 3.
The ‘A’-class performances they rendered were testimony to the experience and confidence they have accumulated through and since the competition, and Njeza hopes this trait rubs off on future contestants.
Talented Times: Fun For Everyone
It’s not just the champions who enjoy UDubs Got Talent, though.
“The show has been quite a nice experience because I have been exposed to a lot of talent and met various interesting people, which has aided in my craft so much,” said another participant. “I’m really grateful for this experience.”
You can’t please all the people all the time, though - one student and a loyal fan of Udubs Got Talent exclaimed that he was disappointed that his favorite contestant did not win – Zimahle Ralarala (who was a runner-up). “Still, I love the diversity and overall purpose of the show,” he added. “I think that what Res Life is doing is truly amazing and we should have more creative platforms in UWC.”