A fast fact about our country that almost all South Africans are familiar with is that there are 11 official languages – a mirror of the variety of cultures that our people represent. Amongst the lesser known cultures, for me at least, is that of Tsonga. I don’t think I’ve met a Tsonga person as yet, except for recently and in a virtual setting – through the looking glass of social media. A local rapper by the name of Sho Madjozi…
As a native Eastern Caper I’ve made Xhosa friends and because of staying on campus throughout my studies have met, acquainted and be-friended Tswana and Zulu people. Since relocating to Johannesburg I have been exposed to the cultures of Sotho, Pedi and Shangaan but not as yet Tsonga, i.e. until I came across the pop artist Sho Madjozi.
I was curious about this South African artist that I saw on the list of performers for Brooklyn New York’s upcoming Afropunk festival which I am keen to attend after having the best time at last year’s NYE party in Johannesburg. Long story short, I started following her on Instagram and she has recently released a music video for one of her songs called Huku – a song performed in the language of Swahili.
In reading up more about her, I discovered that her uniqueness as an artist has a lot to do with her embodiment of each and every aspect that has contributed to her individuality, including the presentation of her Tsonga culture.
She strongly feels that it is not necessary to discard our African traditions in order to be considered acceptable on a global scale. Clearly she has proven this fact as she will now be performing on the stage of an international festival in Brooklyn, New York.
In one of her interviews, she reveals that whilst travelling through other African countries, it became apparent that people wore their cultural garb daily, not only on special occasions such as weddings and/or traditional events which is often the norm in South Africa.
She lives and breathes this philosophy in her dresscode, incorporating traditional Xitsonga garments such as the Xibelani skirt, her hairstyle of braids and the colourful accessories such as the woolly, brightly coloured earrings and in this way SLAYING as a representative of a young Xitsonga woman and talented artist.
The visuals in her music videos, the latest being Huku, oozes African cool. The video brings back memories of the 1997 Janet Jackson video of “Got til it’s gone”. Perhaps it’s the old-school ambience of the setting, or could be the retro dress-code of the cast that’s a mix of sporty, bling and print or maybe it’s the dancing shots at the party. I LOVE it and I love what she represents. Go Sho! Madjozi Ayeye!
Images from @shomadjozi Instagram