Around this time of the year we would ordinarily be gathering to celebrate all things African, but the Covid-19 coronavirus had other plans. Perhaps while you were all cooped up it slipped your mind that the month of May is Africa Month, however, one person who certainly didn’t forget is Thandiswa Mazwai.
Brand SA and the department of sports, arts and culture, in association with Constitution Hill, present Play Your Part Africa Live Stream Concert on May 30.
Mazwai, who, cryptically as ever, gave away little in the way of what we might expect from her first live stream set, has been reeling from the effect of the virus on the music industry.
She says: “Our work is about people, about a particular kind of consumption. Audiences are our bread and butter, and with venues, theatres and stages, closed, many people are left with nothing in their fridges. On the other hand, it has been really amazing for deejays, with Quarantine Radio by [US DJ] D-Nice and shows such as the Lockdown House Party on Channel O.”
This event will be streamed live from Constitution Hill, which is quite a daring move by the department, although all safety protocols are said to be observed.
We are all in a precarious position because we are forced to learn new modes of exchanging energy.
“The key for us as a department is that we continue to create and identify opportunities which can provide relief to the sector during this Covid-19 pandemic, by promoting the work of our artists while advocating for the tangible growth of a socially cohesive society”, said Vusumuzi Mkhize, the director-general of the department.
Mazwai apprehensively says: “I am afraid to do something so social, but we still require the same bravery today as we did before Covid-19. History is made by the brave, so I’m gonna wear my mask, keep safe distances, avoid communal surfaces and wash my hands with soap. What a crazy way of being!”
She also joked how she shed a tear when President Cyril Ramaphosa prohibited kissing and hugging. She was, however, vexed by the situation at radio stations and their skewed ration towards playing an abundance of international music.
“We should be supporting the growth of local music and also preserving local music cultures, so I support a call to play more local music.
“There are so many incredible and unknown artists who deserve to have that platform; international acts can enjoy a preference in their home countries. I would also like to hear more music from the rest of the continent on our local radio,” she says.
Read: “It’s an American circus!”– Artists up in arms over local content quota on radio
Despite the arts approaching uncharted terrain, Mazwai is willing to adapt and evolve.
She explains: “We are all in a precarious position because we are forced to learn new modes of exchanging energy. I rely a lot on the powerful energy that an audience can generate, so this is time of alteration and surrender.”
History is made by the brave, so I’m gonna wear my mask, keep safe distances, avoid communal surfaces and wash my hands with soap.
She also shared a concerning comment around some musicians having to sell their instruments to raise money, which she finds very disheartening.
Looking towards her future aspirations, of which you can be sure to read about in City Press, she says: “I’m working on a huge archive and documentary project. [I’m] looking forward to allowing people to immerse themselves in my childhood and inspirations for albums such as Zabalaza.”
The event is free and you can catch Mazwai’s set at 8pm