Going back for the future

The midpoint of this week came with the news that singer Thandiswa Mazwai’s new album Belede would be released through the Universal Music Group.

The news was innocuous enough, except that, for South Africa’s faithful, waiting for a Thandiswa Mazwai album has become something of a national quagmire, a stasis we are forever trying to jolt ourselves out of.

In the meantime (insert Mgarimbe voice), time takes its toll. Mam Busi Mhlongo dies. Marikana happens and stains all hope. The Zuma Years send us into retrograde. The fees refuse to do the falling thing and, yes, the gargoyle-like Trump wins the United States election.

To put it into perspective, the last time Thandiswa blessed us with an album (Ibokwe, 2009), the diaspora was still drunk with the euphoria of Obama parties.

But, if you know something about praying women, their prayers are often answered, at least in the case of Thandiswa. Belede, named after her mother, is Thandiswa’s unexpected return after seven years of silence.

Okay, we are being a little dramatic. In between, there have been songs, collaborations, shows, jam sessions and, of course, the activism to which she is fated.

So perhaps it is fitting that Belede plays out like something of a night vigil. Check it out to see what we mean.

It is a jazz album, yes, but not in the way one might expect, regardless what a line-up of drummer Ayanda Sikade, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and bassist Herbie Tsoaeli might suggest.

On this nine-track album, Thandiswa goes back into the annals of history to call in the future. It opens with a plaintive rather than a fiery, version of Letta Mbulu’s Jikijela, pointing to the university scene that is dragging on. It closes with Makubenjalo, an invocation that is a nod to “the decolonised national anthem”.

In between, Thandiswa revisits Ndiyahamba, perhaps saying that a reversal of the Nontsokolo/Jim-comes-to-Jo’burg saga is indeed possible. Anything is indeed possible when one’s voice returns.

An interview with Thandiswa Mazwai and a review of Belede will be published in Friday on November 25

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo is the editor of Friday, the arts and culture section of the Mail and Guardian.

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Not a sweet deal, Mister

Mister Sweet workers say they will not risk their health, and the lives of others, to continue producing and packaging confectionaries

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world