Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Musician and social activist Thandiswa Mazwai has something in store for theatre lovers - taking them on a journey to Azania. The live show, A Letter To Azania, will be staged at the Lyric Theatre in Joburg on November24. 

Mazwai is set to use her music to weave the threads that illustrate her early politicisation and visions of Azania. Defining this “imagined place”, she says it is an aspiration of the oppressed, which she dubs the “black aspiration”. 

“I think that for the suffering black masses, Azania has always represented a kind of paradise. It was the kind of holy land, promised land, and you know that was a very prominent idea when I was growing up. And so I decided to do a show about some of these ideas,” she says, unpacking the vision. 

Some of these fantasies touch on the idea of freedom, which for her is defined as the total autonomy of the mind, body and spirit.
“And because we still don’t have autonomy, everything about where we live, our daily experience, is owned by someone else. Because we don’t have autonomy, we cannot move freely on the African continent because different parts are owned, and now there are these borders that don’t allow me to move freely on what is actually supposed to be my home - from Cape to Cairo. 

“We don’t have autonomy because we cannot decide for ourselves what happens in our own world. Someone else always decides what will happen in a black person’s life, in a black person’s body, in a woman’s life. So we have no freedom because there is no freedom without land,” says Mazwai. 

“I think the name of the show is very ‘triggering’, it makes people think, it makes people wonder: if they had to write that letter, what would they say?
“Just from there it starts something. It’s kinda political because Azania is a rebellious, revolutionary idea. A place where black people can truly be free. So it’s a radical idea and that’s political. It’s political for black people to decide to be happy or to dream.” 

Mazwai will stage the show as an “intimate fellowship” of just 1000 people, where they “share through feeding off each other’s energies to chart a way forward for Africans”. 

A Letter To Azania is at Gold Reef City on November 24 at 8pm, bookings through Computicket.

The Sunday Independent