Tando Songwevu

Founding director, Embo

Improving the image of Africa, increasing tourism and persuading more traders and investors to do business here are the ambitious goals of Tando Songwevu.

She’s doing that through her company the Embo Group, which she formed after leaving her job with the SABC in 2011. She describes Embo as a pan-African media, communications and events management company.

Songwevu spent her childhood in the Eastern Cape and moved to Pretoria when she was 13, where the different languages and cultures gave her a broader view of Africa. She went on to graduate from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI) at Unisa and studied public relations at the University of Johannesburg, as well as project management with the Expert Group Academy.

In 2012 she became a partner, researcher and co-ordinator at Research and Action in South Africa, a cultural exchange programme with African-American students at Michigan State University in the US. In 2015 she was involved in a Back to Africa campaign with the University of California Los Angeles. Both projects forged links between Africa and the diaspora and contributed to cultural and economic development.

She was named a heritage ambassador by the National Heritage Council in 2015/16 and was awarded a Golden Shield for her work promoting South Africa’s heritage globally.

She wishes to grow Embo’s network across Africa to promote social cohesion, expand trade and increase investment between African countries and the rest of the world, by driving economic activity in the arts, cultural heritage and tourism.

Unisa, TMALI and the Archie Mafeje Research Institute have endorsed Embo’s projects.

The core of her work involves reaching out to the African diaspora through projects that contribute to meaningful debates on Africa and the promotion of South Africa’s cultural heritage.

“I am inspired by the prospects of an integrated prosperous Africa,” she says.

“I am inspired by the youth who are discovering an alternative historical narrative. Pooling together all ideas and translating them into their everyday realities — the changes they aspire for, the kind of life they wish to live — the youth taking from the past to shape their own future. It is the youth that will change the economic trajectory of this country and continent.”

Songwevu is also a TV presenter on African Spiritual Realms on SABC 1. — Lesley Stones

Website: www.embogroup.co.za