Siphokazi Jonas delivers Pan-African Moët & Chandon ‘Toast to Today’ unites 10 countries in Africa on Champagne Day


From South Africa to Dubai, the French Champagne House brought people together in glamorous celebration

Moët & Chandon has been associated with the celebration of success and of life’s most memorable moments for nearly three centuries. It Is the world’s most loved champagne for good reason – with the power to unite people globally in celebration. Champagne Day 2021 provided the perfect moment to do just this, with coordinated Moët & Chandon events weaving a tapestry of collective champagne joy across Africa, Israel, and Dubai. The celebrations culminated in a Grand Toast to Today at 17:43 on Friday 22 October.

Champagne Day provides the perfect opportunity for Moët & Chandon to take its place as the custodian of the moment the world has chosen to celebrate the champagne region – for it is from Epernay, in the heart of the region, that Moët & Chandon originates. Moët & Chandon reflects the diversity and complementarity of the three main grape varieties of the champagne region: the body of Pinot Noir, the suppleness of Meunier, and the finesse of Chardonnay. The Maison, globally revered for its savoir-faire, its historical know-how and state-of-the-art technology – invited glamorous guests across the continent to connect in a series of daytime celebrations. 

This year’s Moët & Chandon Champagne Day experiences spoke to Moët & Chandon’s generosity, grandeur, and savoir-fête (knowing how to celebrate!). In a collective moment, guests across 10 cities raised their glasses to join a Grand ‘Toast to Today’, which took place at 17:43 in homage to the year this iconic Maison was founded. The toast was crafted by Siphokazi Jonas, one of Africa’s leading lights in the art of the spoken word and served to set a suitably celebratory tone. Her words honoured the spirit of celebration, of being united, of a zest for life. She spoke of how shared joy can connect across nations and cultures and reminded guests of the importance of celebrating each day. 

“Events of the recent past have highlighted the importance of acknowledging our daily triumphs, meaningful moments, successes, friends – as often as possible. Too often we are so focused on life’s major milestones that moments we should be acknowledging every day can just pass us by. The Moët & Chandon Grand ‘Toast to Today’ experience served as a powerful reminder to pause and reflect, and celebrate what we have,“ says Dominic RYAN, Managing Director of Moët Hennessy Africa and Middle East. 

Celebrating life’s triumphant moments with elegance is the essence of Moët & Chandon. Guests in each country were invited as honoured icons of success and elegance. South Africa’s champagne glitterati, including the likes of Mihlali Ndamase, Maps Maponyane and Linda Mtoba, gathered for an intimate experience at the Alto234 Bar, Africa’s highest Urban Bar and viewing deck in Johannesburg. Indeed throughout Africa and the Middle East, guests convened at prestigious venues from the One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai to the Villa Rosa Kempinski in Kenya, to honour Champagne Day in style.

In celebration of the powerful sentiment behind the Grand ‘Toast to Today’, Moët & Chandon created a customised ‘Wall of Toasts’. Guests were invited to recall a personal moment they felt thankful for on their notecard, seal it with a red wax seal and add it to the wall. A poignant reminder to all in attendance of the importance of acknowledging personal moments of joy or success daily. 

Moët & Chandon’s wish to create an unforgettable moment of collective joy to mark Champagne Day 2021 was achieved in style. The Moët & Chandon Grand ‘Toast to Today’ served as a fitting celebration of the brand’s exceptional years of history, its power to unite and the importance of celebrating moments that matter each day. 



Founded in 1743, Moët & Chandon is the Maison that contributed to introducing champagne to the world by offering a range of unique wines for every occasion. From the iconic Moët Impérial to the Grand Vintage Collection, from the extroverted Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial to the innovative Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial, each champagne dazzles and delights with bright fruitiness, an enticing palate and an elegant maturity.

Since its founding, Moët & Chandon has been a champagne of choice to celebrate historical moments or private moments of great personal importance. For each of life’s memorable moments, Moët & Chandon has a style of champagne that marks the moment in a very unique way.

Siphokazi Jonas to headline Poetry Africa Festival 2021 |

Siphokazi Jonas. Picture: Supplied
Siphokazi Jonas. Picture: Supplied

By Kedibone Modise

South African poet, playwright and producer, Siphokazi Jonas is honoured to be the featured act at the 2021 Poetry Africa Festival.

Under the theme “Unmute: Power to the Poet”, the 25th edition of the virtual festival is set to take place at the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from Monday, October 11 and runs until Saturday, October 16.

“Being selected as the Poetry Africa Featured Poet this year has been a lesson in celebrating all the moments of impact because art allows us to contribute something to society and ourselves every day. I am truly grateful to the festival, this is an honour,” shares Jonas.

Jonas says she will be tackling mental health and how the sense of community has been affected, particularly during these uncertain times.

The renowned poet hopes her personal experiences will help the audiences overcome their challenges as well.


The Eastern-Cape born star says it was during the height of lockdown that she almost gave up her career as an artist.

Siphokazi Jonas. Picture: Sithembele Jnr (SJ Photography)

“The early days of lockdown were ones of high anxiety because of how quickly our livelihood was taken away.

“I have always been laser-focused about a career in the arts and have never wavered, even during the most challenging times.

“Last year was the first time I have ever considered quitting because it seemed we would not find a way out of the performer-audience model.

“But I thank God and the incredible community which I have around me because we began improvising and coming up with ways to take our work online.

“This is when we streamed a theatre recording of #wearedyinghere around the world, and along with Optical Films and the support of the Kolisi Foundation, the production was adapted into a short film.

“Being multi-disciplinary meant I was able to take more writing jobs and clients were requiring filmed performances instead of live ones.

“The increase in collaboration and filming has led to a different way of disseminating my work, but also wider audiences,” says Jonas.

When asked about the future of arts in South Africa, post-Covid-19, Jonas offers: “In the poem which I wrote for SONA 2021, ’What does not sink’, there is a line which says, ‘The artist contemplates whether to eat her own words, and art starves.’

“I believe that artists will always make art. However, the department which holds the almost sacred responsibility to ensure that arts and culture are protected is failing and has done so during one of the most devastating times in recent history. They have left us eating our own creations to survive.

“Further, the ‘starving artist’ trope will also continue to be a reality if artists are not paid their royalties and residuals for the ongoing use of their recorded works and their images.

“Artists are using both their work and their bodies as protest, my hope is that those who consume our work will support those efforts.

“I am inspired by the passion and tenacity of South African artists, while I am deeply discouraged by corrupt leadership, the latter reminds me of a legendary character, Laqhasha, from Sgudi Snaysi, cutting off our potential for progress at the knees,” she says.

Siphokazi Jonas. Picture: Supplied

Her work tackles issues around faith, identity, gender-based violence, cultural and linguistic alienation, black women in rural spaces, and the politics of everyday lives.

“My work is about sight: seeing and being seen. My characters are often in the margin in some way and I invite them to speak with nuance instead of the two-dimensional way in which they may often be presented.

“I aim to treat these stories with compassion always, the audience will be challenged to interrogate their own prejudice and be moved to empathy, not only for the characters but for themselves and for the people around them as well.

“It is also why my work interrogates privilege and the abuse of power so that we can investigate our position in relation to that abuse, and ask uncomfortable questions such as, are we complicit?”

Jonas counts poets and theatre-makers Ntozakhe Shange, Napo Masheane and Thembi Mtshali-Jones among her artistic inspirations.

“My main influence in the combination of poetry and theatre is Ntozakhe Shange, the creator of the choreopoem. There are other creators like Napo Masheane who are incredibly adept with the form, and it is a pleasure to consider them contemporaries.

“Two of my favourite storytellers are Mam Thoko Ntshinga and Mam Thembi Mtshali-Jones. Some musicians who influence my approach to art and performance include Lea Salonga, who has sung for Disney and Broadway, for example, has the most incredible diction, and Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu.

“Zimbini brings her entire spirit into performance and I always have a visceral response when I listen to her. As a multi-disciplinary artist, I draw from many different art forms to make chakalaka in my own creative bowl,” admits the star.

Legendary poet Dr Stella Nyanzi will be delivering the keynote speech during the opening of the festival on Monday, October 11, at 11am.

Nyanzi is a multiple award-winning medical anthropologists, specialising in sexual and reproductive health, sexual rights and human sexualities in Uganda and The Gambia.

“Both Stella Nyanzi and Siphokazi Jonas represent the brand of strong women voices who have been a feature of the Poetry Africa festival for a quarter of a century.

“They are fearless and unambiguous in letting their voices inspire hope. The poems give agency and impetus to the continued struggle for social justice,“ says Siphindile Hlongwa, curator of the Poetry Africa Festival.

The 25th Poetry Africa Festival is freely accessible and can be watched via Facebook and YouTube.

Siphokazi Jonas Selected as Featured/Headlining Poet at Poetry Africa Festival, this is the inaugural year

Siphokazi Jonas

Siphokazi Jonas

Stella Nyanzi

South African poet, playwright and producer, Siphokazi Jonas will be the featured poet during the 25th Poetry Africa Festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 11 to 16 October 2021. Poet Dr Stella Nyanzi, a multiple award-winning medical anthropologist, specialising in sexual and reproductive health, sexual rights and human sexualities in Uganda and The Gambia, will be delivering the keynote speech during the opening of the festival on Monday 11 October at 11 am.

Featured poet Jonas is a storyteller, and ordinary lives fuel her work in poetry and theatre that has been featured at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country. Her experience of growing up in Komani, in the Eastern Cape, during the transition years of South Africa’s democracy, has an ongoing influence on her stories. Her work engages questions of faith, identity, gender-based violence, cultural and linguistic alienation, black women in rural spaces, and the politics of everyday lives.

She also produced four one-woman poetry shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Her most recent stage production, #wearedyinghere, was performed at Artscape Theatre and Joburg Theatre to positive reception. The production was adapted into a short film and has been screened at numerous international film festivals and will also screen during the Poetry Africa Festival. 

“Both Stella Nyanzi and Siphokazi Jonas represent the brand of strong women voices who have been a feature of the Poetry Africa festival for a quarter of a century. They are fearless and unambiguous in letting their voices inspire hope. The poems give agency and impetus to the continued struggle for social justice ”, says Siphindile Hlongwa, curator of the Poetry Africa Festival. 

Keynote speaker Nyanzi self-identifies as a radical queer feminist scholar, social justice activist, human rights defender, non-violent protester, poet, Facebooker, opposition politician belonging to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), a former aspirant for Kampala Woman Member of Parliament (2020-2021), an ex-prisoner from Luzira Women’s Maximum-Security Prison, and mother of three teenagers. She obtained her doctoral degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2009), a Master of Science degree in Medical Anthropology from University College London (1999), and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Literature from Makerere University (1997).

For her critical writings, she was arrested twice and charged with cyber harassment and offensive communication against Uganda’s president Museveni. For the first case, her prosecutors applied to the court for her to be subjected to an involuntary mental examination. She was tried, convicted, and sentenced to eighteen months in maximum security prison for her second case. During her fifteen months of imprisonment at Luzira Women Prison, she was acquitted and released by the high court. She continues to write critically about Uganda’s leadership.

“As the festivals presented by the Centre for Creative Arts continue to be celebrated for being defenders of democracy, social justice and social transformation we are proud to have Stella Nyanzi and Siphokazi Jonas headline our festival programme this year ”, says Ismail Mahomed, the director of the Centre for Creative Arts . 

The Poetry Africa Festival will be presented by the Centre for Creative Arts with the support of the National Institute for Humanities, The French Institute of South Africa, and Total. Unmute: Power to the Poet will be the theme for the 25th edition of the virtual festival, which is freely accessible and can be watched via  and

Siphokazi Jonas featured poet and Dr Stella Nyanzi keynote speaker at the 25th Poetry Africa Festival


MUSIC EXCHANGE (#MEX21), South Africa’s preeminent entertainment-economy-invested conference, returns this September for the 11th consecutive year, hosted by Ticketpro.

Lauded and awarded for its consistent commitment to the broader South African music industry, #MEX21 will run from 11 September to 2 October 2021, with a wealth of quality international and local speakers.

Some of the topics #MEX21 will unpack, in detail, include our streaming reality, the platforms generating engagement (Ayoba) and driving artist’s incomes (SubmitHub), right through to the importance of heritage (MEX Chairman), the state of radio in South Africa (KFM), and just how artists are rebuilding and morphing in response to the pandemic (RJ Benjamin).

Our Keynote speaker, from Australia, is Michael Smellie. He speaks about the seven deadly sins of the music business.

Michael’s career in the music business spans more than 25 years.

He has worked across five continents as former Global Chief Operations Officer of Sony BMG, Asia Pacific Head for BMG, and Managing Director of Polygram and rooArt in Australia.

He is an investor, adviser and board member to many start-ups’ creative businesses in Australia and the United States and is currently the Board Chair of the Music Council of Australia.

Stuart Rubin, from New Zealand, speaks about the importance of the song and looking to legacy for wisdom and inspiration as well as unpacking Elvis 30 Number 1’s and Neil Diamond.

At the height of his career, he was Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG. Stuart’s career in music started in New Zealand in 1976 with PolyGram. 

He “crossed the ditch” to Australia and held several senior marketing roles in PolyGram and BMG, before moving to Hong Kong in the 1990s where he became BMG’s VP of International Marketing for the Asia-Pacific region. In 2001 he moved to New York, becoming Senior VP International for BMG. Following the merger with SONY, three years later, Stuart was made Senior VP International of Commercial Marketing. 

Stuart’s interview reveals a person fascinated with people, whether they are artists or music lovers. With his long experience in selling music to a global market, and as an A&R professional, he delivers a unique perspective on the industry.

Gasant Abarder, the author of Hack the Grenade, columnist, and former editor of the Cape Times & Argus speaks to the Cape Town reality for artists and his take on the media landscape in both print and online.

We speak to legacy with producer Greg Cutler, an engineer from London; regarding his relationships with Harari, Hotline and Rabbit, bands that shaped the SA sound that we know and love today.

Despite the past 18 months being the most challenging in MEX’s decade-plus dedication, investment and global outreach, Music Exchange 2021 (#MEX21) is opening its annual industry-focused indaba to the world come 11 September 2021.

Over the past 11 years, MEX has actively informed, partnered and brokered with some of the biggest and most influential players and institutions, with the sole purpose of elevating, educating and sharing a wealth of learning from all four corners of the planet and 2021’s #MEX21 commits to being no different.

If anything, #MEX21 is offering everyone, directly or indirectly professionally affected by the pandemic, an opportunity to explore the possibility of change, with speakers who exemplify talent, success, and perseverance at a time like no other.

MEX has welcomed and hosted the likes of composer Dr Trevor Jones, musician and producer Bryan Michael Cox the Orchard’s Ben Oldfield, Mark Murdoch, Mos Def, Tim Renner, Rachel Z, Tom Novy, Karen Zoid, Siphokazi Jonas, Christian Wright from Abbey Road, Arthur and Charles Goldstuck and Moreira Chonguica among many more, all in an impressive lead up to this year’s impressive list of confirmed speakers.

The #MEX21 speaker line-up includes, but is not limited to:

Michael Smellie – Chairman of Music Australia – Australia.

Jason Grishkoff – Founder SubmitHub – USA.

Stephen Werner – Station Manager @ KFM – RSA.

Stuart Rubin Former Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG – New Zealand. 

Gasant Abarder Author, and former editor at Independent Newspapers – RSA.

Greg Cutler – Producer engineer visionary proud ambassador of SA Music legacy – UK.

Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA.

RJ Benjamin – Artist – RSA.

Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA.

With more names to follow, #MEX21 talks will deliver on what MEX is known and respected for by delivering quality conversations that lead to quantifiable outcomes.

In partnership with Ticketpro, Paul Bothner MusicWestern Cape Government, AYOBA and the City of Cape Town.

 #MEX21 will host local entertainment industry thought-leaders and game-changers in 30-to-60-minute presentations on the Ticketpro streaming platform.

For a mere R100 investment, per ticket, #MEX21 delegates will enjoy an all-access pass to the full 11-day conference, comprising a series of unmissable keynote addresses and international thought leadership sessions from some of the most relevant and revolutionary minds in the business.

Martin Myers, founder, and convener of the conference remarked “2021 is another big year in Music Exchange’s history. Our collective and ongoing investment to help influence, adapt, evolve and remain relevant in a massively compromised economy sits at the heart of all we do.”

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Secure your ticket and watch here:

For booking details, and more information, go to:

For more information and interview opportunities, please contact:

Martin Myers @ MEX

083 448 4475