10 Minutes with Tsoku Maela

Meet the man behind the lens, Tsoku Maela

From our latest #AfricaIssue emerged extreme talent and passion. We discovered the trailblazers in African design and serious change makers. One such profile was Tsoku Maela. His work may have some serious undertones, but his personality is bright, captivating and ever-so charming…

Tsoku Maela is a creator, a filmmaker and a photographer, but what he really does is bring dreams and ideas to life through outstanding visuals. His actions are conscious, and every subject placed in front of the lens is well thought through. It is this mindfulness that results in respect in the industry, and creates anticipation for what’s coming next.

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Image: Appropriate 2 by Tsoku Maela

African design is: Regal and timeless. You know it’s of African heritage the moment you see it. My landlord recently said ‘You know, I’m thinking of giving the house an African lodge feel, redesign it a bit’, probably because African design tells a story. It makes you feel like you’re a part of something. A heritage. A culture. Family. And of course, it’s also very beautiful!

I feel like this is something I was supposed to do. It’s been a very surreal journey that has motivated me to believe in the power of ideas and the ability we, as people, have to change for the better.

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Image: Non-White only by Tsoku Maela

What is shaping African expression? Now more than ever we are understanding the relevance and prevalence of African expression – not as a novelty or a rise to prominence, but because of the freedom to express it on platforms that reach more people in a click. For a long time Africans (in various diasporas) had been on egg-shells about accepting themselves and their culture due to the colonisation, but now we are accepting the beauty that was once side-lined. We are embracing ourselves. Self-love is shaping African expression.

The digital age has unearthed and connected so many incredible artists. Artists that tell authentic African stories as known to them.

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Tsoku’s compelling work ‘breaks the barrier between humans’ and gets them talking.

Lets talk about icons… I grew up reading about Einstein and Salvador Dali, but my Mother is really my only icon. I remember breaking my leg during a soccer match when I was a child, and she carried me on her back for 15km’s to the nearest clinic. The other boys laughed at me but she didn’t care, so neither did I. That experience has shaped my approach to life. People still laugh, but I only focus on the journey.

Who should we Google? Lookout for Loyiso Mkize and his comic book ‘Kwezi’. I’m so happy to see him getting the props he deserves.

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Love is Blind from the Broken Things Series by Tsoku Maela

What’s on your book shelf? I’m currently reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. It’s not as intense as the title makes it sound. Or the cover. Or the colours. It’s actually really funny. Another random read that has stuck with me was The hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

Who should we follow on Instagram? Me! Me! Pick me please! I’m really enjoying @Everdaypeoplestories feed by photographer Cedric Nzaka and one of my favorite photographers @FundiswaNtoyi for sure! [Disclaimer: DECO agrees – you should follow @tsocu!]

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Image: Rediscover not Recreate, from the Abstract Peaces series by Tsoku Maela

As Tsoku’s portfolio and identity grows and changes, we’re eagerly waiting for more. After his series Abstract Peaces, that focused on Mental Illness we saw the release of his conceptual fashion film ‘Confluence’ which screened at Bokeh this year, and he has been featured on CNN’s African Voices. However, the humble man he is, Tsoku is adamant that this not about his personal achievements but the voice his work carries. We’re sold.


Be sure to bookmark Tsoku Maela’s website and follow Tsoku Maela on Instagram @tsocu to find out what’s coming next. You may also like to step inside the inspiring Amsterdam Lake House or read about our Architectronics Black and White feature for a visual feast.


The Africa Issue is a celebration of the future of design in Africa and its potential to drive change. We explore the concept of ‘Africaness’, what this means for our aesthetic. We also  dream big with bedroom inspiration and take you on a tour of homes that truly embrace the spirit of the continent. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #AfricaIssue.

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