Vuyo Renene is a musician and BCom Law Student at Varsity College..
Tell our readers about the kind of work that you do and what you are involved in?
A few years into my degree, I realised that I did not necessarily want to pursue a career in law. BCOM Law has a more commercial and business element to it. Once I started pursuing music and performance full time, I realised that I wanted to be more than just an artist – I wanted to have a seat at the table, especially in South Africa because there are so few women in executive levels in the music industry. I am currently enrolled in short online courses in music business, digital marketing, music theory and vocal recording production. I will complete my BCOM Law degree in 2018 and then I wish to pursue a degree in music business.
I am also a mentor for a NGO called Dreamgirls International.
Do you feel that being a woman affects the kind of work that you do on a daily basis?
It definitely does. The music industry is a male-dominated industry and women are often simplified to objects or accessories – even as an artist, you have to work harder to receive the same kind of support or recognition that men receive, and that really bothers me because we are not getting the opportunities and recognition we deserve.
Life was very different for our mothers and grandmothers when they were young. They had their own unique challenges. What challenges do women face today?
I think young women currently face the struggles of exercising the freedom which was fought for us, by the previous generations. For the longest time we are told that we are free as women and we can be anything, but there are so many structural barriers put in place, which prevent us from excelling.
Where do you think women are at in South Africa at the moment? How far do we still have to go as a country and what needs to be done?
I think we’re at a pivotal moment right now as women in South Africa, especially the young women of South Africa. I think we are demanding respect and equal treatment in every industry. There are so many women who are no longer waiting for platforms to be given to them – they are simply creating those platforms themselves and telling their stories.
There is a generation of young educated women, who have not been taught to keep quiet or belittle their ideas because of what others might say. Those women are lawyers, doctors, artists and content creators, who can really make a difference in their respective fields. In my specific industry, I think we need more collaborations and we need more opportunities to reach new levels. We need brands to sponsor female artists, not just throw them lunches or high teas. We need capital investment.
As a country, we have a long way to go with regards to how women are treated. There is a history of violence towards women that is embedded in a lot of the citizens of South Africa, and we need to un-teach those violent practices and norms that women have been subjected to for so long.
What do you see in South Africa’s future, where issues surrounding gender, race, class and sexuality are concerned?
I see (and really hope for) transformation, but only if something changes. We need more enforcement of laws which protect victims of crime in South Africa. We need more protection, and it needs to come from a government level – it needs to affect individuals from all parts of South Africa. We need to raise more awareness and, more importantly, we need more action. For me, I feel that we need more women in positions of leadership, who support and understand the issues surrounding gender, race, class and sexuality, because I feel that there are so many individuals who do not feel well represented by their leaders.
In June we reflect on the Soweto Uprising. This year, we observe 41 years since the youth led a new wave of resistance to apartheid. Why do you think it’s important for us to commemorate and remember this period of time?
I think that it was a monumental and very important part of our history, not only as South Africans, but as the youth of South Africa. It was a movement which was for the youth and lead by the youth.