“No one is you—and that’s your power.” ~ John Paka, artist
A tall boy with a deep voice, he captions himself. Famous for his stylish look and high-octane performances, his stage presence commands attention. Yet, despite his decorated career, he still insists that we don’t know him yet.
His name is John. John Paka. He was born in the township of Thaba-Nchu and raised in Bloemfontein, where he’s established himself as one of the city’s favourite artists.
Though by no doubt a natural act, he nonetheless pursued further training in Drama & Movement at the Free State Theatre Company. This was not only to hone his talent, but also to widen his understanding of the industry. Now he is an asset for every production he takes part in.
As a musician, Paka is not an artist you would like to sing after. He’s stolen many a show, and left the audience pleading for more. Arguably the best cover artist for the legendary Tshepo Tshola, his fans always excitedly “wait for [his] name to be called”, and when he grabs the mic he dominates.
Dominance! A word that he clearly lives by. He won’t allow anyone to limit him to one particular aspect. He’s complex. He’s versatile. He’s passionate. It’s his passion and more that has made director Masedi Manenye cast him for Love, Crime and Johannesburg as Bones Shivhambu, whose character is just as creative.
“What I love about Bones is the fact that he’s one unpredictable character. He lives in his own world. He believes he can make things happen for himself and those around him. He calls the shots and you obey,” explains Paka.
“I am getting there in understanding him; I’m still trying to wear him upon myself. He’s in his fifties and I am in my twenties. So you can imagine! But it’s a nerve-wrecking and exciting process, I must say,” he adds.
John Paka has been in various productions. He was in the Daily Skinner cast, under Thapelo Motsikoe. Again, we watched him in Roel Twijnstra and Jerry Pooe’s Offside. Furthermore, he was one of the roses in Themi Venturus’ The Gathering of the Flowers. He also formed part of Masedi Manenye’s Rain Song.
In 2017, he was incubated as a director, and gave us Till Death, written by Mlungisi Tshobeka.
He regards two gigs as his career’s highlights: sharing the stage with US praise and worship powerhouse, Marvin Sapp, and working with the Bantu Biko Street hitmaker, Simphiwe Dana.
John Paka is bringing all this energy and experience into Love, Crime and Johannesburg, and those of us who have seen the rehearsals can tell you with absolute certainty that you don’t know John Paka yet!