Emmanuel Tjiya’s Freedom Issue Editor’s Letter

There is a spirit of rediscovery in the autumnal air, after two years of instability and social unrest caused by the pandemic.

A renewal period can emancipate you to hit the reset button — start over, break free from fear, and chase after the things you have always wanted.

One such period for me happened at the beginning of 2021. For 18 years, I had dreadlocks, which represented a huge part of my self-identity. I vividly remember the last time I cut my hair — after initiation school in the winter of 2003.

Beyoncé had just launched her solo career after Destiny’s Child, and her first hit, Crazy in Love, with now-husband Jay-Z was the anthem of the season. We were shaking it like a Polaroid picture thanks to Outkast’s Hey Ya!. For something more slow tempo, there was You Don’t Know My Name by Alicia Keys.

Young-adult shows One Tree Hill and The OC were the television du jour. I was more fascinated with edgy TV shows such as Nip/Tuck and Arrested Development, but don’t think I was allowed to watch such graphic content. Then there was Tyra Banks’s reality-TV show America’s Next Top Model. I was coming of age, and so that signature hairstyle defined my boyhood journey and carried all those nostalgic memories.

Emmanuel Tjiya introduces the ‘Made In Mzansi’ issue
It was the afternoon of 1 September, the unofficial first day of spring, and I was trying like crazy to meet my daily newspaper deadlines when I …
S MAG4 months ago
But in 2021 I was in my early 30s and the hair made me feel as though I was stuck in a loop, with my life running in a circle like a scene out of Spring Breakers. To be candid, I’d been done with the hair for five years before I shaved it. So much so that I had a whole closet full of hats to make my look more exciting. But the headache of the pandemic was the last straw. So one day I woke up, grabbed a pair of scissors, and chopped it all off. I was not only free, but my perspective also shifted.

Welcome to our Freedom Issue!

Are you truly free to live your best life, like you always hashtag on social media? What does your freedom mean to you?

For me, the art of freedom lies in self-discipline. As I curated this issue, I watched a very insightful conversation between Lady Gaga and Jake Gyllenhaal on Variety Studio’s famous Actors on Actors series, where they discussed their respective creative processes for their roles in House of Gucci and The Guilty. At the end of the conversation, Gyllenhaal said something profound that stuck with me: “Freedom is on the other side of discipline.” Gaga replied: “Discipline shall set you free.”

Self-discipline has been the secret to success in my own life. It’s through self-discipline that I unshackled myself from the expectations of others, that I hold myself responsible for my fate, and that I am intentional about the things I want to attain.

Above all, self-discipline has freed me from the delusional grandeur that I’m the best thing to ever walk this planet. For me, that is the fundamental freedom that has helped me unearth my authentic self and live my best life.

It’s through self-discipline that you will free yourself to stick to your fitness routine so you finally get that banging body you’ve wanted in 2022. Our pages are packed with tips that will free you to have the best hair, skin, body, wardrobe, relationship, and smile of your life.

The stars handpicked for this issue — Mmabatho Montsho, Kwenzo Ngcobo, Khaya Dladla, and Msizi James — serve as testament to the power of living your authentic life. Their success is rooted in self-discipline. Unfortunately, it cannot be taught. Through my years as a culture reporter, I’ve discovered charismatic and talented artists with the potential to become superstars, but who lacked self-discipline. (I’m tempted to name-drop, but I won’t.)

Not only do we have to protect and appreciate our freedom, we have to respect it too. Guard it with our lives. The minute you feel as though you are absolutely free to do as you please, that’s when you have crossed the line.

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