“She is the leader of the past which is now the future” – Hugh Masekela on Thandiswa Mazwai
My very first article posted on offthetar.com was titled “What defines a trendsetter?” and Thandiswa Mazwai was someone I referred to as an example of one. This view remains unchanged and especially more so since I attended her birthday concert – King Tha Day. This event was open to women only and featured various artists displaying their crafts for sale at stalls throughout the venue. Women in attendance were also uplifted through spoken word by poets and other guest speakers such as Bev Ditsie – specifically focusing on the black woman. Poetry sessions highlighted the experience of being a black woman from the perspective of challenges faced, growing up and becoming stronger.
Who else has done this sort of event? From the top of my head, I can’t think of any, but let me Google because ignorance just ain’t sexy even though it may be bliss. Well, I have seen these kind of events hosted by churches – however the context, conversations and atmosphere is very different as it’s aimed towards praising a higher being and living according to prescribed religious scripts. Google has indicated that a women-only concert took place in Saudi Arabia in 2017, however this was not hosted by one artist in particular and as far as I understand the aim was not to directly inspire women – but rather provide a form of entertainment for women who have many restrictions on their way of living in this specific country.
This is evidence for her trend-setting nature, creating a different version of reality for women (even if only for a few hours) – which is much needed anywhere and everywhere in the world. I am truly grateful and proud to call such a legendary artist a fellow South African. Read up on Thandiswa Mazwai on Wikipedia and you’ll learn about brilliant people such as Chinua Achebe – a pioneer who is author of the most widely read book in modern African Literature and legends such as Frantz Fanon who influenced the likes of Steve Biko.
All Hail King Tha!
Legendary King Tha was welcomed to stage in traditional song which stirred the crowd in a spiritual manner. Unfortunately I understand very little isiXhosa, but the song was sung by all/most in attendance in high spirits while ushering Thandiswa in with great pride and passion that could stir any soul present.
Once she got on-stage she blessed us with her powerful vocals, spiritual sound and revolutionary lyrics – wearing all black. Her floor-length dress was dramatized with the addition of an oversized, chiffon shawl covering much of her upper body and paired with converse all-stars and blue-tinted shades adorned with spikes to up her rock-star appeal. After two songs she asked the press to down their cameras as she removed the shawl to reveal her bare breasts covered in see-through mesh material and which highlighted the covering of her midriff section with a traditional beaded, glow-in-the-dark apron. This bare-breasted look resembled the traditionally clad women of the Xhosa culture. It looked truly beautiful, in celebration of the female form rather than exploiting it.
All hail King Tha!
Check out @offthetar on Instagram for video footage
What’s your favourite song and/or look from Thandiswa Mazwai?
Photography: @ninocoffeetographer (Ayanda Maphosa)