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Thandiswa Mazwai: 20 years of Zabalaza and a new album

By Temo Mpodi

The iconic Thandiswa Mazwai is ready to set our souls on fire again with a new album. It’s been intriguing to watch her immaculate growth in the Arts, and the creativity that has come with every song and style she has brought to the stage. Yes, give us more!

Thandiswa Mazwai has long been one of the most influential musicians on the South African music scene. She began her career in 1995 with Bongo Maffin, one of the pioneering bands of the Kwaito era. After 6 award-winning albums with Bongo Maffin, she ventured into a solo career. Her first project Zabalaza (2004), reached double platinum status and won numerous awards, including a Kora award for Best African Female and four South African Music Awards.

She will be releasing her much-awaited album Sankofa in May 2024! This will be celebrated with an exciting performance at Carnival City, Johannesburg on the 11th of May 2024. The show will also include songs from Zabalaza, Thandiswa’s iconic debut solo album, which turns 20 today. Imagine 20!

Thandiswa says: “Sankofa in the Ghanian language means to go back and fetch what’s been left behind – what is important, what honours you, and what needs healing. How apt that as I prepare to launch this new work, my seminal album Zabalaza, celebrates 20 years. For me, this is the year of Sankofa.”

Recorded in Johannesburg, Dakar, and New York, the album combines archival Xhosa music, jazz and West African rhythms, and includes songs produced by Meshell Ndegeocello and Nduduzo Makhathini, and collaborations with Thandi Ntuli and Tendai Shoko.

Thandiswa says “The making of Sankofa was a thrilling sonic odyssey that took me from villages of the Eastern Cape to Dakar and New York, lacing a thread that resulted in something truly special. Within those ancient rhythms and polyrhythms, a common lexicon revealed itself to me and I am excited to share this music with those who have been growing and evolving with me. Listen out for uhadi, umrhubhe, ngoni, kora and drums in the music. It is about a celebration of the pan-African spirit and reconnecting with the African diaspora.”

About Zabalaza, Thandiswa says “I cannot believe it’s been 20 years. And what an incredible 20 years. Zabalaza became my magnum piece and ended up inspiring an entire generation to look within, engage their culture and seek an affirming aesthetic that represents their African-ness. Thank you to everyone who loved this work, nindenze umntu.”

  • Tickets for her upcoming performance at Carnival City, Johannesburg on the 11th of May 2024 are available at Computicket going for R350 – R1 000.

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