Simphiwe Dana and I

Simphiwe Dana performing at the Old Mutual Jazz Fest in Windhoek, Namibia

Where: Old Mutual Jazz Encounter, Geingob Stadium, Windhoek
When: Saturday, October 8th 2011
Reviewed by: Nam’pa
The atmosphere in my heart mirrors the scene of the Old Mutual Jazz Encounter 2011. It is peaceful, comfortable yet highly exciting. This must be the creative side of Nyerere’s Ujamaa which was instilled upon me by the beautiful Simphiwe Dana. She stood on stage and started off calmly with the sounds of “Malaika”. Seeing her perform live was soothing and invigorating at the same time. Gracefully she stirred with laughter in her moves. I dare say that her movements generally reminded me of women
that I know from our villages. They appeared very serene belonging to somebody who is confident of whom she is even amidst challenges.

I was blessed enough to get a chance to speak to her backstage after her performance with Fu-Jazz. She seemed tired like somebody who had poured her all into her presentation. I realized what an intelligent person she is. Despite her
brilliance she is able to convey her messages across simply and on-point. The same energy I felt from her performance was enclosed in her personality. In straightforward terms, she said that she is “not a performer, but a realist”. And that is the energy that she portrays. I did not get the feeling that I was speaking to a multi-award winning artist. What stood out more was the wisdom of the woman who simply describes her music as Afrosoul.

Simphiwe says she loves knowing about origins, anthropology, writing, reading and debating. She listens to a variety of music, except anything that is mainstream. I believe her inspiration comes not only from these things, but also from her attitude towards people. I watched her silently, as we were interrupted by somebody during the interview. She showed no sign of annoyance and remained polite and friendly throughout that encounter. I thought back of how she said earlier when she was on stage, that Africa
needs heroes and that we do not need to look overseas for those heroes, because everyone of us can be one. If we had more people like Simphiwe in Africa, we would have more heroes.

She agrees with the statement that “Africa is the future”, but says that at the moment we have nothing to offer even though the world keeps taking from us. According to Simphiwe, Africa suffers of an insecurity complex from hundreds of years of dehumanization. She was explaining how even the interview we were having as two African women should have preferably being held in a common African language, instead of a colonial one. She likened it to Africa being similar to an abused woman who
knows the relationship she is in is wrong, but stays in it. Simphiwe says we need to have our societies work with us. Many principles need to change. And then we will have something real to put forward.

Just before I left her, Jimmy Dludu was getting on stage. She kindly said to me “Go watch Jimmy. He is
great”. And indeed he was.

Photos courtesy of Vida de Voss +264816020977

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