afropunk joburg: thandiswa took us to church
January 4, 2019
Photos by Dennis Manuel for AFROPUNK
As a writer, I am keenly aware when words fail to fully encapsulate a feeling. It’s more than being speechless. It’s an understanding that the power being witnessed cannot be fully or effectively conceptualized through the English language, which is still, in its essence, the Master’s tools. This is how I felt watching Thandiswa Mazwai at AFROPUNK in Johannesburg on New Year’s Eve.
This was my first time seeing Thandiswa live — I felt ashamed of this fact but then I was swept up by Tha’s clear voice and suddenly, I was home. Dancing in the rain, with the crowd, I was acutely aware that I could catch pneumonia but decided to risk it all instead to catch the spirit of Thandiswa. She did not disappoint. So we danced and writhed, letting the rain and Thandiswa’s vocals cleansed us of 2018’s bullshit.
Thandiswa is one of my first conceptions of a free Black woman. As if possessed by that potent energy, one fan threw their bra on stage in a customary move of showing a musician adoration. Not thinking twice, Thandiswa liberated her own breasts, finishing her set titties-out. We nearly lost our damn minds, absolutely euphoric, pouring rain and all.
Her energy is undeniable — whether she walks through a room or onto a stage. Seeing her songs come to life felt like a spiritual experience, with each beloved melody etching a new layer into my mind and heart. I felt exorcized. I walked away drenched to the bone but renewed.
All hail King Tha! Qawe lama qawe!
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