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Image Courtesy of Khwezi Becker : Storytelling Tree




Dr Gcina Mhlophe

Founder & Executive Director

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Gcina Mhlophe is an author, poet, playwright, director, performer and storyteller. Influenced by her grandmother’s tales when she was a child, Mhlophe’s written and performance talent has transported her from South Africa to South and North America to Europe, Greenland and Japan. She has performed her stories in theatres like Royal Albert Hall, the Kennedy Centre in the US and collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a children’s CD. She again worked with Ladysmith Black Mamabazo and Francis Bebey quartet in a unique production, Africa at the Opera, which toured Opera houses in Germany. She is also one of the 21 ICONS in 2015 with the likes of Lillian Cingo, Bishop Tutu, Nadine Gordimer and Tata Mandela.


She has released several CDs as part of her work promoting indigenous languages, oral traditions and literacy. She has written over 18 books which have been translated into all South African languages as well as Italian, Swahili, Japanese, German and French. She has received seven honorary doctorates from the likes of London Open University (UK); University of KwaZulu – Natal; Pretoria University and Fort Hare, for a body of work that has contributed to Literature and helping to preserve the Heritage of African storytelling. Dr Mhlophe has also received several Lifetime Achievement awards for this work amongst many others.


Dr. Mhlophe has worked tirelessly since 2001 running NOZINCWADI Mother of Books Literacy Campaign to help make South Africa a Reading Nation. The Nozincwadi: Mother of Books, is available as a book which is accompanied by a CD that formed the joyful soundtrack of the roadshow.  


She founded the GCINAMASIKO ARTS & HERITAGE TRUST in 2012, in efforts to preserve the dignity and wealth of our indigenous cultural heritage in South Africa. She continues to lead the organization as its Executive Director.

Mathabo Kunene



Mathabo Kunene is the Executive Director of The Mazisi Kunene Foundation, based in Durban.  Professor Mazisi Kunene, Mathabo’s late husband was a great freedom fighter, literary icon and poet. A talented writer whose inspiration was the history of Zulu people, the liberation of Africans everywhere and the oral traditions of African literature. Kunene’s works were originally written in Zulu before they were translated into other languages, because he championed the inherent value of African literature written in African languages. Emperor Shaka the Great & Anthem of the Decades are two of his best known works.


Mathabo's strategic & developmental leadership is vital to all aspects of the Foundation's work. Inheriting her philanthropic nature by watching her parents selflessly, pioneer educational opportunities for disadvantaged children.

Iain Ewing


Sizwe Mbhele

Trust Secretary


Iain is a Director at Ewing Trust Company, which he joined in 2001.  He studied Marketing at the University of Port Elizabeth, and then Law through UNISA.  After joining the Asset Management business, he moved from Law and qualified as a Certified Financial Planner, and is a Member of the Institute for Financial Markets.  Together with his father, Iain founded the Ewing Charitable Division, and sits on a number of Boards of Trustees.  Iain is one of the original Trustees of the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust and, through his vision and dedication, he has assisted in growing the organisation to where it is today.

Ryan Pillay

Trust Member


Mr Sizwe Mbhele is currently employed by Department of Education as a School Library Advisor in Ugu District with the following mandate.  His core function is that of:

  • Advising on Developing School Libraries in Ugu District and supporting schools in establishing libraries

  • Promoting Reading and Literacy Programmes in Schools by through Reading Festivals eg . Storytelling and Heritage, Readathon etc  and which campaigns also include Culture and Heritage element.

Mr Mbhele joined Gcinamasiko in October 2015 and has taken on the portfolio of Trust Secretary.  He says of his enthusiasm and inspiration at being appointed to the Board of Trustees “I feel so humbled to be associated with  a family of hard working loving and caring people .  My   awareness of the importance of knowing our roots brings in an already glowing spark of indigenous knowledge which needs to be nourished in our communities. My involvement in School Reading Campaigns is seen as the opportunity to ensure maximal utilization of young talent. Literacy promotion in schools is incomplete without recognition of our indigenous languages and our traditional practices and ways of living”

Travis Gale

Trust Member


Ryan is on board the staff of Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth as part of the Arts, Culture & Heritage department. He has also been the project coordinator for the Queer in Africa dialogue held at NMU.


At the age of 18 Travis was inducted into the world of cause driven adventure when he and a friend, Stephen Bonaconsa, spent a year cycling 17,000km across four continents raising R1.7 million for vulnerable children.

It was on the tour where Travis penned a vision for an organisation called Appletree.

After studying HR at UKZN, Travis spent a year on the island of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand working in the dive industry. His experience of the devastating 2004 tsunami catalysed a return to South Africa with a renewed fervour to work with people. Upon return, Travis established Appletree alongside a group of facilitators. Over the past 14 years, Travis has developed himself as a speaker, facilitator, consultant and coach serving clients from a wide range of industries including; Engineering, FMCG, Financial Services, Insurance IT, E Commerce and Retail.

As a Director of the Appletree Group, Travis plays a role in developing offerings which enable human transformation and the cultivation of healthy organisational culture. He has now dropped the bicycle for trail running shoes. He has been married to his wife Toni for 10 years and is the father to two cute and energetic daughters.


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