Sho Madjozi and the art of being seen



The artist we know as Sho Madjozi almost worked at the Mail & Guardian. She was Maya the Poet back then and was scheduled to have an interview for an intern position. No one quite knows what happened; she didn’t have the interview and became a colorful pan-African rapper instead.

So, very unlike a journalist, Sho Madjozi began 2019 with a nod from Vogue. She was included in the Vogue World 100, a list of people who are reimagining fashion, music and television for the better. Sho Madjozi fits the bill. She has a unique style, a special sound and an individual way of identifying herself.

Her athleisure take on tinguvu, a Xitsonga garb for women, has become an extension of her brand. On any given day she’s happy to accessorise her sports bra and cycling shorts with a woollen xibelani skirt and matching sneakers. To top it off she’ll wear her hair in colourful Fulani cornrows accessorised with beads. The hairdos have made her selfies a key reference in many salons where many women insist on getting their fix of what they’re calling “Madjozi braids”.

This comes after several people had registered their disquiet about her association with Okmalumkoolkat after he had been accused of sexual assault.

Considering that the Sho Madjozi persona is barely three years old, there are lessons that emerging artists who want to advance in the industry can take from her. The era of the “yaaas queen” is the right moment to curate a version of yourself that you are happy to stick with, create a team that you can grow with and take up space unapologetically. It’s also okay to reclaim the parts of your identity that aren’t celebrated. If you stick with it, an adoring public is likely to follow suit.

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Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa studies Digital Democracy, New Media and Political Activism, and Digital Politics.

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