Singer and actress Kelly Khumalo
With its trademark cheek and over-the-top spectacle, the sixth annual Feather Awards took place at Johannesburg’s Urban Tree venue on Wednesday night.
The awards are described as an irreverent celebration of high-profile individuals who, the organisers say, have inspired, scandalised and amused South Africa’s LGBTI community over the past year.
“It’s been six years of the Chevrolet Feather Awards now, and we’re gratified to still be here, and growing!” commented co-founder Thami Kotlolo.
“Our community is diverse, and faces an incredible number of challenges, so allies are important to us. The entertainment industry has historically been open to and supportive of LGBTI rights and issues, so this evening is an acknowledgement of that relationship, as well as a space where we articulate our struggles and celebrate our triumphs,” he said.
Emceed by Sade Giliberti and Akhumzi Jele, the event’s theme was Celebrating Freedom of Expression, in commemoration of South Africa’s 20 years of democracy.
The event commenced with the mandatory pink carpet arrivals, hosted by Lumko Johnson who quizzed celebrities on who designed their outfits and their date choices.
The guest who most turned heads on the pink carpet was undoubtedly singer and actress Kelly Khumalo, who made her first public appearance since last month’s murder of her boyfriend and father of her daughter, Senzo Meyiwa.
The night’s winners were a mix of old favourites as well as some new faces. Amongst them were Isibaya’s Thembi Nyandeni, who took home the Diva Extraordinaire award, Nandi Mngoma for Best Styled Female, Mafikizolo, who won the Musician of the Year category, actor Amanda Dupont for Hot Chick of the Year, Nkuli Tshirumbula for Hunk of the Year, and Lerato Kganyago, awarded for the coveted Fag Hag of the year award.
The Generations cast and creator Mfundi Vundla won the well-deserved Drama Queen of the Year award while the Out In Africa gay and lesbian film festival was awarded the Feather of the Year.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who won the the Sports Personality Of the Year Award, told the audience that he was honoured to be there. “Everyone has the right to live the way they want to live. Gay and lesbian rights are human rights too,” he said.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula
The first performance of the night came courtesy of a Feather Awards institution, Madame Gigi (Somizi Mhlongo), who left no holy cows un-slaughtered as she performed her scathing analysis of the personalities who made 2014 hilarious, interesting, and downright scandalous.
Other stage performances featured upcoming house sensation Fiesta Black, Kabomo, Vusi Nova, Wanda Baloyi and Moneoa who performed a stirring rendition of Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes activist anthem Wake Up Everybody, (No More Sleeping in Bed) – both as a call to action to South Africans to rise against the scourge of violence against members of the LGBTI community and to emphasise the event’s theme.
Busisiwa closed the evening’s performances, after which DJ Warras, the Major League Boys and DJ Shimza held down the after-party.
The Feather Awards recently came under criticism that it is frivolous and out of touch with issues facing the LGBTI community, something which sponsor Chevrolet dismissed.
“More than just being a glittering event that showcases incredible South African talent, it’s important to recognise that the Chevrolet Feather Awards deliver a critical statement about the rights of the LGBTI community, and creates an environment that is unapologetic about that message,” commented Brian Olson, Vice President of Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing of General Motors South Africa.
“Furthermore the Chevrolet Feather Awards have the effect of shining a spotlight on the LGBTI community and encourage a broader debate on issues that affect this group,” he said.
Here are all the winners for 2014:
Best Styled Female: Nhlanhla Nciza
Best Styled Male: Maps Maponyane
Cutest Couple: Lalla Hirayama & Chris “The Mayor” Nkosi
Sports Personality of the Year: Fikile Mbalula
Role Model of the Year: Zizo Beda & Thuli Madonsela
Diva Extraordinaire: Thembi Nyandeni
Hot Chick of the Year: Amanda Dupont
Hunk of the Year: Nkuli Tshirumbula
Musician of the Year: Mafikizolo
Media Award of the Year: Shift (SABC1)
Socialite of the Year: Simphiwe Dana
Fag Hag of the Year: Lerato Kganyago
Drama Queen of the Year: Generations Cast & Mfundi Vundla
Feather of the Year: Out In Africa Film Festival