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US actor Malik Yoba up-skills youth at Joburg Film Festival

'I'm glad that ... African stories are being told by Africans'

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Image: Supplied,

American actor Malik Yoba is in SA attending the ongoing Joburg Film Festival, with the sixth edition themed around nurturing and inspiring young storytellers as part of 30 years of democracy. 

The 56-year-old stars catalogue includes appearances in New York Undercover, The Last O.G., Empire, The Equalizer and Why Did I Get Married? 

A diverse range of more than 60 titles are being showcased at this year’s festival including Yoba’s docu-series The Real Estate Mixtape. The line-up also includes Perfect Days, Evil Does Not Exist, Mami Wata, Snake, Umkhonto Wesizwe – Mandela’s Secret Army, and more.

“Everything we do tells a story. How you put an outfit together or the type of purse you choose to buy; you selected it because it told you a story and I’ve had the pleasure to tell multiple stories with my profession as an actor,” Yoba said.

“My journey as an actor has been amazing. You’ll never realise you have a career until you look backward. Most of the time we always look for ‘what’s next?’ without realising how far we’ve come.”

Multi-award-winning actor Malik Yoba talks about giving back to the youth of South Africa.
Multi-award-winning actor Malik Yoba talks about giving back to the youth of South Africa.
Image: Supplied.

Yoba added that he was glad that more than ever, African stories are being told by Africans.  “We’re talking about the Cradle of Humankind. Like the saying that goes: ‘The last shall be first’, it’s not a surprise to me that Africa has taken over,” he said. 

“Based on the history of the continent, not much has been told and shared. Most people don’t know the prominent and powerful African kings who ruled kingdoms that were established thousands of years before we got here. So, I think it’s time for us to take our rightful place on a global level.

“White people have done enough treachery to show us that we don’t belong but that time is over.”

Yoba continued to fulfil his commitment to up-skill the youth by hosting a masterclass on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think I’m at the forefront of any cause. I’m just doing my job as a person who is conscious about storytelling,” he said. 

“We all were once young and you cannot forget where you come from as young creatives. Anyone who doesn’t pour into young people, I believe is part of the problem.

“We’ve all been moved by a film or show emotionally. It either leaves you inspired or makes you want to aspire for something. Storytelling is a powerful tool that can help educate and change society.”

This is Yoba’s third time in SA. He said he keeps coming back because of the love and hospitality he has received. 

“As African-Americans, whenever we touch down on the continent, we kind of feel connected. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s one of the best feelings in the world,” he said.

“I also love the geography of this country, particularly Cape Town, I’m yet to visit Durban… I hear it’s a beautiful place.” 

Image: Supplied

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