The concept of Azania has been one that’s very contested. Whether it's as the name the country must be given its post-decolonisation phase or as the ultimate state of freedom, it remains a subject that’s deeply personal to many South Africans.
In an intimate show taking place on Saturday, November 24, at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City, acclaimed singer, songwriter and social commentator Thandiswa Mazwai will host an intimate concert where she explores this concept.
Titled "A Letter to Azania," Mazwai will present an audio-visual show that will take listeners back to her childhood to explore in intimate detail what the search for Azania has come to mean to her.
Asked how we’d know as a nation that we’ve reached Azania, Mazwai said: “I think it would have to be a feeling. The thing about Azania is that it’s always been seen as a promised land, so it's an aspiration of the oppressed. I think that the more we struggle with our oppression and our freedom, we realize that it’s not going to be a geographical location,” she explained.
The show, she said is a sonic conversation about her own thoughts about Azania. “As an artist, I create the work because I am compelled to. I am compelled by the spirit. The only thing that drives me is the spirit,” she said.
Mazwai said creating the show had required that she go down memory lane. “ A lot of digging in the old memory crates, re-reading of material. There’s a really great reading list around the ideas of ancient African civilization, also about the aspirations of the oppressed.
"I am reading a lot of Kwame Nkrumah, Franz Fanon, going back to Black Consciousness these are the topics that I am always re-invigorating in my work, ” Mazwai explained.
In this audiovisual experience curated by KingThaLive in collaboration with Blackmotion Productions, audiences can expect a range of sounds that have influenced Thandiswa’s recordings and performances over the years: Jazz, Kwaito, Afro Funk, Reggae, Gospel and Traditional music.
There will be songs from her own albums and renditions of tracks by some of her favourite musicians.
Asked what would be different about this particular show, Mazwai said she aimed to provide a curated experience for those that attend her shows each time they do. “ We are always prepared. No show that I have ever done has been the same as the one before it.
"I prepare very, very intensely. The band and I get together to talk about how to create that intimacy, how to get messages across...my preparations are always around particular gigs that I’ve done. With Letters to Azania, if you don’t come and see it, you might never see it again, ”Mazwai said.
Tickets to A Letter to Azania are priced between R200 and R400. A VIP ticket will cost R500, they are available at Computicket.