Nomisupasta for President!: Nomsa Mazwai on Activism, Music and Hope Monday 23 April, 2012

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“I really want to dive in and swim in life. I think I am here for a purpose. Music is the best way that I would like to fulfill my purpose.”– Nomsa Mazwai Winner of the South African Music Award (SAMA) for best Best Adult Alternative African Album, Nomsa Mazwai’s purpose is resonating with music […]

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“I really want to dive in and swim in life. I think I am here for a purpose. Music is the best way that I would like to fulfill my purpose.”– Nomsa Mazwai

Winner of the South African Music Award (SAMA) for best Best Adult Alternative African Album, Nomsa Mazwai’s purpose is resonating with music lovers, artists and activists throughout her homeland of South Africa and the world. Nomsa (or Nomi for short) reveals a lot about her personal life and political beliefs in her latest album Nomisupasta. Listen and you’ll hear the headstrong woman who doesn’t know why it’s so hard to let an inconsiderate boyfriend go, an articulate political activist that doesn’t want anyone fooled by illusions of progress, and a dreamer that wants to accomplish much more as an artist and leader.

Here, Nomi shares her musical inspirations and discusses what her priorities would be if she were president, staying optimistic in the face of many grim political realities, and–because even activists get their hearts broken–lessons learned from romantic love.

Congratulations on all the success of your debut album Nomisupasta! How would you describe the album in one sentence?

An expression of new African music and style.

The title, Nomisupasta, is my nickname–my friends in the rural province of the Eastern Cape call me that.

Who are your top 3 creative inspirations?

Thandiswa Mazwai (Nomi’s older sister), Michael Jackson and Brenda Fassie.

Your music has many layers to it, including a strong political critique. You’ve sung: “Globalization is the new colonization without the whips and chains.” What do you want your audience to know about how this new slavery works?

The capitalist system is a new form of slavery with predetermined winners and losers. Just like slavery, this capitalist system is built to benefit its architects and no one else. It achieves this by deluding the masses to believe, without a doubt, there is no alternative to it.

If you were president of South Africa what would be the first three things you’d do?

First, I would take one third of the national budget and allocate it towards education. This would be used to improve pedagogy such that schools become humanizing and empowering places. The money would also go toward teacher training and educate the masses on the importance of their participation in the education system. I would implement community schools.

Second, I would encourage the unemployed but educated youth in the country to think of ways they can provide for a need in their communities and support them in making that financially sustainable. In essence, I believe in supporting entrepreneurs.

Third, I’d help build the African Union such that it becomes a global force and the deciding organization for what happens on the African continent–African solutions for Africa’s challenges and opportunities.

Well, even activists get their hearts broken. Your song “What kind of love?” was very intimate and vulnerable. What has been the greatest lesson you’ve learned from romantic love? 

That song always reminds me how important it is to let yourself feel. It helped me see the importance of working through whatever may come your way, because every dark cloud has a silver lining, every deep hole has a way out, and every end is a beginning.

Understanding the persistence of racism and inequality, many people become skeptical about the future. How do you hold on to hope?

I’ll graduate with my Masters in International Political Economy and Development, I’m an economist. I hold onto hope because I believe I have a purpose on this planet and it is to change the material conditions of those who suffer. Everyday I do what I feel will get me closer to achieving that.

When I return to South Africa, I plan to use my music and poetry to communicate what I think we are going through and listen to people as they engage me. I plan to work for my country, whether it be in government as an official, or as a consultant as a development economist. I worked for an economic development agency owned by the government for a year before doing my Masters and I feel they understand real grass roots economic development, so I may work with them, for the people of my country.

Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

Doing fearlessly.

Listen to Nomisupasta and stay in touch with Nomi on Twitter.

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3 Comments

  • VusiDawg says:

    Nomisupasta is living proof of what the new SA is all about. Love her brilliant mind!

  • Mabona says:

    Oh wow Nomi! U do us proud now, and you will continue to do us proud when you are back home to serve the people and the African continent. So proud of u :) Mofiyah!


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