Afro-pop singer and poet Ntsiki Mazwai aims to make her mark on the African continent.
POETRY is an art that cannot simply be taught, this is according to Afro-Pop singer and poet Ntsiki Mazwai.
Speaking to African Times about her journey to perfecting her craft, Mazwai was open: “I was born a poet, so it was not really a decision. I just really love writing and I used to write poems as a teenager. But I didn’t really know that this was my calling, and this would be what I would do with my life. I am also growing as I am still discovering myself.”
However, she had to work hard to break into the industry as her sister (Thandiswa Mazwai) was already famous. She had to overcome expectations from a number of prominent people that she would also follow her sister’s footsteps.
“The obvious challenge was that I had an elder sister that has already made a mark. It meant that I had to work a little bit harder than everyone else. That was challenging because people wanted to force me underneath her shadow and they wanted me to be more like her. It took me many years to be defiant, rebellious and to say, ‘No I am my own self’. Another challenge was just being a woman in the industry that is doing her own thing because most women in the industry have got men around them. So, I have a lot of obstacles as I don’t have any male handlers,” said Mazwai
She sees piracy as a big challenge faced by musicians in the country, saying that harsher copyright regulations were needed. She also gave a glimpse into her secret towards staying relevant, saying that she follows the latest trends and that she is still grounded in her roots.
“I was young when I got my big break as the movement of poetry became quite popular in the early 2000’s. So, there was unity in the poetry circle and I think a lot of us also came in at the same time. As a result, I got elevated from us working together. I just think maybe that our poetry industry needs a little bit more of that and also it is important for the artists to be committed.
“I think House Music spoke to me because it placed (my work) into the main stream and to the normal person who would not even be at a poetry show. I am also very active in the background. So, even if my music or my name might be in the main stream, it does not mean that I don’t regularly go to open mic sessions to make sure that I remain relevant to what other children are doing.
“I make sure that I am not just in one place because that way you can fall off just by not being wary of the environment and what other people are doing,” said Mazwai.
She said that she could not really classify which genre her craft was as the entertainment scene changed from day-to-day and that she was aiming to make a mark in the African continent: “It is difficult to classify my craft because I take advantage of the fact that I am a poet. It means I can choose to put it in any genre I can think of.
“I come from a Hip-Hop and Reggae background so those are my main inspirations. Funny enough, I am not really a house music fan but because of the nature of my job, I have to be open to everything. But I am very much active in the background scene.
“I need to move my art around the world and particularly in Africa. I would love to be performing throughout our continent for the next few years because I just believe that we do not think that we are important enough. You always find that people from this side want to be in America and Europe but actually you can also dream to work in Africa and that is how we are going to get better if we realize that we are also good enough,” said the artist.
Mazwai is currently in the studio with Pops Mohamed and DJ Issiah and that her music. She believes the music would be released on April 27 on online websites. She encouraged aspiring poets to remain focused on their crafts and they should not give up.