Q&A With Maureen Benya

With 22 years’ encouraging mutually beneficial partnerships between the business and arts sectors, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), supports and celebrates a diversity of cultures. In the spirit of celebrating Heritage Month, BASA looks at its longest standing employee, Ausi Maureen (as we like to call her), who has been with the organisation for 21 years. We were privileged to have a short conversation with the proud mother of two. Sinenhlanhla Mdiya (SM) caught up with her, to ask about her Heritage and hope for the future of BASA.

SM: Tell me more about yourself.

MB: I grew up in a KwaZulu-Natal village, and I had a very poor upbringing. I was raised by my grandmother with 20 other family members and siblings, all in one small house. My parents worked in Johannesburg and would return home once a year. After matric, I moved to Johannesburg with the hope of finding greener pastures and to help my family back home. I currently have two kids. My dream was to become a social worker because of the poverty I saw back home; however, in 1998 I began working part-time as a cleaner at BASA, in its Newtown offices. I later became its permanent receptionist, in 2013.

SM: What has been your highlight of the past 20 years?

MB: My highlight was when the former CEO, Nicola, created an opportunity for me to grow in my career. While cleaning, I was interested in reception work, so through skills development, I did short courses on training to be a receptionist, as well as taking English courses. Nicola personally helped me with the courses. I will always be grateful to her. I also enjoy the BASA awards.

SM: Having worked at BASA, what would be your wish for BASA going forward?

MB: I wish BASA would grow further and continue to help young artists with grants.

SM: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to celebrate Heritage Day?

MB: It’s important for the youth to understand where they come from, their background, their roots, and to understand how their ancestors lived before.


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