Musa Kalenga

When Nedbank invited Musa Kalenga to head up their digital marketing programme, he felt obliged to offer one caveat: “I’m a bit of a maverick.” But such was his reputation as a marketing and communications guru they were willing to take the risk.

Born in Zambia, he spent time living in Scotland, Botswana and South Africa. “This taught me how to get into an environment, understand it, adapt and make things happen,” he says.

After school he tried his hand at actuarial science, but failed everything during his “orientation year”. He returned to Wits University to do something he enjoyed, marketing, and soon knew he was on to something.

After his BCom, Kalenga became the youngest chartered marketer in Africa and founded his own youth marketing agency, Monatefellaz.

At 25 he was still fresh enough to be in touch with young consumers and savvy enough to employ innovative tactics to understand this dynamic group from a marketing perspective. Preferring tangible research to rows of numbers, he recruited youngsters to interact with their peers and report back on spending habits, fashion trends and the like.

Kalenga has since gained experience in a wide spectrum of marketing niches, from the restyling of Nik Naks packages to the rebranding of Transnet. He was even part of the team that advised the National Democratic Party on their branding and strategy for the election campaign that saw John Atta Mills become president of Ghana in 2009. He has made his way on to television, offering his insights on Maggs on Media and presenting his own programmes, The Kalenga Touch and One Day Entrepreneur.

Add to this a deft fist in the boxing ring, a brief stint as a modern freestyle dancer and a growing portfolio of published opinion pieces, and suddenly his website header makes sense — Kalenga is a “new African legend”.

— Ian Macleod