Ntsiki Mazwai is a South African musician, activist, blogger, and poet. Over the years, she has developed a reputable career in South Africa’s art scene with her exceptional music compositions. Her style of music cuts across traditional, house, reggae, and Afrosoul. Although she is popularly known as Mamiya or the South African Street Queen, Ntsiki is also regarded as a voiceless of the voiceless, following her involvement in several national debates on social issues affecting women in South Africa.
Ntsiki Mazwai Biography
Ntsiki Mazwai was born as Nontsikelelo Mazwai on the 3rd of September 1980. She is a native of Soweto in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Her name – Nontsikelelo means ‘the mother of blessings’ and she grew up in Pimville with her parents – Belede Mazwai and Dr. Thami Mazwai, who were writers. Notably, her parents were once the leaders of the Pan Africanist Congress. Being politically active, Ntsiki’s parents never relented in instilling political consciousness into their children.
As a result, they raised Ntsiki and her sisters to be fully aware of their social environment and how to respond to it. This has gone on to be a great influence on Ntiski’s career. Her works have become notable over the years, because of their inclusion of themes such as black consciousness, spirituality, femininity, racism, and family dynamics.
For her education, the renowned music star completed her education at IMM Graduate School, where she got a Marketing Management degree in 2008. She also studied further, thus acquiring a Master’s degree in Creative Writing in 2017.
Her Career and Meteoric Rise to Fame
Even though Ntsiki gained mainstream popularity in 2005, she actually began her artistry in 2002 through her beadwork. She also performed her music and poetry in Johannesburg’s pubs and restaurants at that time. It was her hit song ‘uRongo,’ that brought her into the spotlight in 2005. The song, which was a mix of house music and poetry, also brought attention to Ntiski’s album and style of music.
Her body of work is incredibly diverse and cuts across poetry, music, fashion and more. She owns a beadwork fashion house called The House of Mobu. Through her musical career, she has also released two spoken word albums – ‘Ndingubani’ and ‘Mamiya’ and has published a poetry anthology – Wena – that can be described as autobiographical.
Ntsiki Mazwai is also a budding theatre producer with plays like ‘Ntsiki Speaks’ and ‘The Mama Said Sessions’. She is considered a pioneer in the popular trend, where dance music artists and poets merge their genres to create mainstream hits. She refers to this trend as “taking literature to the dance floor.”
As a successful artist, she has performed in different countries including Tanzania, Belgium, Kenya, Italy, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Amsterdam, United States of America, and South Africa. Ntsiki has also recorded music with several artists including Thandiswa, Mandla Spikiri, Pops Mohamed, DJ Euphonic, Mahoota, Khuli Chana and many more. Her collaborations with more seasoned artists such as Mahoota, Dj Mbuso and Pops Mohammed, has helped her establish herself with a more bigger audience as well.
In 2008, she was nominated for the Best Urban Pop Album at the South African Music Awards. The artist is also a successful blogger and fortunately, her years in the underground music scene helped her build a dedicated fanbase. Her personal blog has gained attention and notoriety over the years due to its outspoken nature.
Ntsiki Mazwai is noted for being very outspoken on social media, using various social media platforms to reach out to politicians, musicians, and the government in general.
She uses ‘Open Letters’ to speak on matters she considers relevant. One such open letter is “Dear Black People” where she calls out black people for behaving white.
Another Open Letter by Ntsiki Mazwai that gained attention was her letter to Cassper Nyovest. She has repeatedly used her platform to participate in several campaigns, addressing issues which girls and young women face in South Africa today. Of those issues, rape and abuse are a primary agenda for the artist. Mazwai also makes concrete attempts to mentor younger artists on the rise when she can. For these and many other reasons, she remains one of the most celebrated stars in the country.
Other Facts You Need To Know About Ntsiki Mazwai
1. Ntsiki Mazwai comes from a politically conscious family which easily manifests itself in her two sisters – Thandiswa Mazwai and Nomsa Mazwai. The three sisters, who each have their own thing going on, frequently come to work together in order to create awareness for certain social issues.
2. Mazwai’s sisters have also established themselves as musicians. Thandiswa is currently the lead vocalist for Bongo Maffin – one of South Africa’s most celebrated bands. After five successful albums, Thandiswa released her first solo album in 2004. The album, Zabalaza won numerous awards and acquired double platinum status; hence, cementing her place as one of South Africa’s most influential musicians.
3. Her other sister, Nomsa is an award-winning musician as well. She is also a Fulbright scholar and an Economics graduate of the University of Fort Hare, South Africa. She later got her Masters’ degree in International and Political Economy and Development from Fordham University in New York.
4. Besides her family, another interesting thing about this artist is her courage and strong will. She is not one to back down from a fight – quite literally. She made several headlines after she got into a physical confrontation with the popular South African rapper – AKA on ‘Katch It With Khanyi’ (Khanyi Mbau’s talk show) after AKA insisted he wasn’t going to share a couch with her, labelling her as ‘rude’.
5. In 2016 Mazwai made a big revelation on Twitter stating that she had been the victim of sexual violence which is one of the reasons she has strong views on rape. She added that she suffered this violence at the hands of an “industry guy”. A year later, she opened up that it was Kwaito star Brickz, who violated her sexually. She broke this silence after Brickz was convicted of raping a 16-year-old relative in 2013 at his Ruimsig home.