Thandiswa Mazwai left touched by fans ‘Zabalaza’ stories as album celebrates 20 years

Legendary South African musician Thandiswa Mazwai. Picture: Supplied

Legendary South African musician Thandiswa Mazwai. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 25, 2024


South African music legend musician Thandiswa Mazwai’s celebrated the 20th anniversary of her iconic debut solo album, 'Zabalaza,' this March.

“I cannot believe it’s been 20 years, and what an incredible 20 years,” shared the musician.

“ ‘Zabalaza’ became my magnum opus and ended up inspiring an entire generation to look within, engage their culture and seek an affirming aesthetic that represents their African-ness.”

The album achieved double platinum status and garnered numerous awards, including a Kora award for Best African Female Artist, four South African Music Awards, and a nomination for the BBC Radio 3 Planet Awards.

In honour of the iconic album’s 20th anniversary fans have been sharing stories of their fond memories of ‘Zabalaza’, which featured hits like ‘Nizalwa Ngobani?’ and ‘Revelation’.

The stories left the award-winning singer feeling touched and glad they began with a family affair. “The ‘Zabalaza’ stories have been so touching. I love how it was always a family affair.

“Others started hearing it as babies, others shared it with grandmothers, fathers would buy one for each member of the family becos he had to have his OWN,” she wrote on X.

In May, Mazwai will be releasing her much-awaited album ‘Sankofa’. This will be celebrated with an exciting performance at Carnival City, Johannesburg on May 11.

"Sankofa in the Ghanian language Twi 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’,” said the musician.

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.

"The making of Sankofa was a thrilling sonic odyssey that took me from villages of the Eastern Cape to Dakar and New York, weaving a thread that culminated 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,” said Mazwai.

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