Thandisawa Mazwai celebrated her 42nd birthday with a performance at Basseline to a women only audience. Men who didn’t subscribe to solely their primary gender of birth were also invited.
As a journalist for City Press I met with Thandiswa who for the rest of this piece I will refer to as being KingTha.
The meeting prior to the birthday celebration was a lunch time sit,between rehearsals, where she told me about this great move she was making the first ever of its kind where an artist and activist dedicates a show to a bold and greatly attacked movement the advocacy for women.
She later told me during her interview for city press the importance of safe spaces she said speaking to city press ” And I do think that there is something bold in choosing a particular audience. In creating ‘only’ spaces. The act in itself is revolutionary because there’s something about women owning their own time, owning their ability to spend time in each other’s company that isn’t really accepted in society. Society wants women to be told what to do. For us choosing to spend this time with each other is a revolutionary act” –
Fast forward to the actual day words are simply not enough to describe what I still think was important to write down and record for history books. The room was filled with women of different shades shapes && it was no short of amazing an incredibly revolutionary. From the poetry to the vendors outside to the bar ladies to the people braaing meat to the DJ sets and of course something I was par of the video and photo capturing. KingTha Day provided a safe space for women to gather as women and to do everything and anything society and mainstream media had framed as being the human activity in partnership with men.
Men who as a status quo lead the perpetrator reference when it comes to a great deal of violence and oppression faced by women by virtue of their gender.
Also during our conversation,prior to the birthday celebration, KingTha mentioned how we are all feminists both those who directly identify and those who may not necessarily have the language or use the popular terms and references known for advocacy. But our actions and experiences above the semantics do show and tell of how we are feminists.
KingTha day became a point of reflection for me after realizing from being in the space how violent the normal space is. A number of things I felt from only spaces that I don’t feel from shared space
- SAFE – safe from being cat called,safe from being objectified , safe from being harrassed/groped, safe from the possibility of being sexually violated.
SAFE to exist first as a human being
2. Empowered – to know see and become more ( I will later talk about Miliusuthando Bongela the only talk I really was able to listen to , and one of the two with Prof Pumla Gqola ,that I was looking forward to).
3. Aware – aware that its okay. Aware that anything I may have been violently subjected to was a common thread among many women in the room.
4. Allowed – to be. My mom at church one January said more than anything can the year remind us that we are human (beings) and that stuck with me to more than anything. BE
5. Affirmed – that I was enough that the bloodline of my ancestors the history of my family tree my africanness my womanhood my blackness my girlhood isiXHOSA ubuXHOSA and everything I may have related to was right perfect and enough and that I was not going to find more of myself in anything outside of my original ‘orgin’
And by the way this was a PARTY? but a different and REVOLUTIONARY party. I thoroughly enjoyed and Salute her fighting spirit that continues to be a voice for women in spaces designed and structured to give less voice and less validity to the voice of women and her/his/their experiences.
Milisuthando Bongela spoke on LOVE ; Two things profound for me from her talk was her use of the Xhosa Language and manner she unpacked it and took it home for many of us. Her conversation has inspired me in many ways one of which is to value and honor my home languages and to look with closer detail into them and what they mean
UMNTU – human
Ndingumntu- person, universal laws and the flow of nature
UMNTWANA – little human
Unom’sindo – Uyasindwa
Second to this was her reference to this radical solution and name calling we have chosen as position in society. At least my interpretation and reference to that part of the conversation refereed to it as such.
She in response said ” You can’t arrest evil. You can take the person to jail. But what is the response to evil…?”
” Only light can take out darkness”
“It is more radical to be inclusive than exclusive”
And above this Let Go and Let God –