As the mother of a 16 year old daughter, Mazwai feels a sense of excitement when she thinks about living in a time of movements like Fees Must Fall. “I would be very worried if this stuff was not happening in the world. We don't only learn from our parents. A lot of the time we learn from our peers.”
She describes her daughter and her peers as fierce black women, unafraid of the sound of their voices or their rage. Young women who are not willing to be in the background.
There are many important conversations that are being ignited through pro-black narratives in popular spaces like the Internet. The situation may seem turbulent, but she is insistent that because we will never live in a perfect world, people need to be given the language of resistance. Mazwai's music has provided this language for many.
Zabalaza, although released over 10 years ago, is often praised as being ahead of it’s time. “It feels like there was so much foresight while I was making that album back then. As an artist I rely so much on the inner ear and listening to whatever messages come through and bringing them out, which is why I see myself as more of a conduit,” she explains. But it's hard to accept compliments for the album. “I don’t think that was me… I think there was an energy at that time and I had the ear. I was willing to use that to guide me.”
Next up for Mazwai is a journey to Mali where she will spend some time in Salif Keita’s studio recording her next album of original compositions. “There is a beautiful silence in Mali. I also love the sound of Tuareg music and the sound of the desert blues guitar,” she says.
Some of the themes she hopes to explore on the new record include the dichotomy of love and rage, and the importance of self-love when coming out of rage. She thinks about the importance of self-care especially in relation to those involved in Fees Must Fall. “I think about how tired they must be and the mental trauma that comes from the banging and the noise of the shooting, the violence they encounter.”
While many may love her music and see it as an instrument of healing, making music is a personal journey for Mazwai, who sees it as a way of understanding the world and her place in it. She does not pay attention to the critics and reviews and believes if an artist has integrity and puts their heart into the work, it will resonate. “We all have a few things in common, like the desire to survive, the desire to be happy, the struggle with our fears and pain.” That is why people find resonance in her sound.