Music Q&A: Getting to know Thandiswa Mazwai

Q&A: Getting to know Thandiswa Mazwai

Cue reporters Lesedi Ntuli and Thandi Bombi spoke to Thandiswa Mazwai ahead of her performance in the Guy Butler Theatre at the National Arts Festival on 11 July 2015.

At what point did you realise that you were an adult?

Multi-award winning South African musician, Thandiswa Mazwai, performs in a concert in the Guy Butler Theatre in Grahamstown on 11 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. (Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile)

Multi-award winning South African musician, Thandiswa Mazwai, performs in a concert in the Guy Butler Theatre in Grahamstown on 11 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. (Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile)

About two days ago, when I had to mother-handle some business with my daughter.

What came first: your ability to communicate your ideas or the ability to express your ideas through music?

I would say the ability to express my music came first. That’s kind of instinctive. Communicating them came with experience. I have no academic musical training so it took a while to get to the point where I could communicate what my ideas were.

Do you feel that you are the voice of South Africa’s youth?

I used to be. Lol. I am almost 40 now, hardly a youth. I would assume people like K.O are now the voice of the youth.

A lot of people are afraid to ask about your hair, but what inspires it?

Why would they be afraid to ask about my hair? Isn’t that indicative of the strange place we find ourselves in? Where identity is warped? People are more comfortable with a weave than a Fulani or Himbainspired hairdo.

Who’s your stylist?

I don’t have a stylist. I have always had to be in control of my aesthetic because it has always been a political choice. To subvert the idea that natural blackness isn’t beautiful.

What are your views on feminism, and is such a thing as African feminism?

There is definitely an African feminism, because the experiences of women across the globe are not homogenous. Our expression of feminism is specific to Africa and its ways.

What would you like the audience to take away from your performance?

I never have a plan for any show except to pray for magic between us and the audience. Music is supposed to move you, and that’s what we hope for. Fingers crossed that the gods of music will comply.

What’s next for Thandiswa?

I am not the kind of person that has future plans. I live my life in the moment. I guess my only plan for the future is to be happy and healthy.

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