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The Future of Mzansi Reggae and Dancehall is Female!

The Future of Mzansi Reggae and Dancehall is Female and Sausage Parties Shall Fall

#SausagePartiesmustfall There are nuff females around the whole country who can feature in shows and having 1 female amongst 30 men is not the way to go. Can we all work towards creating a healthy balance for the longevity of our movement as we all equal roles to play”
Unathi Lady Slice.

When Unathi ‘LadySlice’ Jacobs denounced the Sausage Parties, she must have had enough of being and seeing other Empresses being excluded in the lineup of most Mzansi reggae festivals in the country which have made it a norm to host an almost all male artists and selectors line up. She wanted to highlight the plight that women had been subjected to by promoters. For years they have been sidelined or shunned for reasons unknown. I’ve debated this with a number of male DJs in the industry about why this is happening and most of them cite the fact that female DJs do not put themselves out there enough, they don’t promote themselves, so they end up being sidelined. Whether this is true or not, Empresses have heard enough, and instead of always complaining about change they are deciding to be the change.

On the last weekend of November 2019, there two All-female line-up Festivals held in the opposite ends of the country. On the 29th Jahmena a reggae artist based in CT hosted ‘Jahmena Night‘ in celebration of all the Empresses in Cape Town. The event was held in Blue hall, Khayelitsha and featured Zoliswa Kawe aka Empress Hotep a veteran in the Industry, Born and raised in Langa,Cape Town a professional actress and reggae musician. Thandiwe Kwayiba aka Lady T, started her journey with music at the age of 9yrs doing Opera and Choral music. Lady T has performed with two of Khayelitsha’s big choirs; Khayelitsha choral Singers (KCS) and Heavenly Voices were she has graced stages like the National choir festival (NCF) and Arts Cape Opera, She got introduced to Reggae music through the likes of Jah Kongo with whom she has a track called Umlilo with, Nathi B and Pete Spence. Naboshita aka Natural Shine a young upcoming artist from Crossroads in Cape Town, studied music at the Gugulethu College, where she also studied drama. Natural Shine is a very diverse Artist as she performs both Reggae, Jazz and she is also a Dancer. Empress Naphtali is a Roots Reggae singer and songwriter based in Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa. She recently released a roots reggae album titled Evergreen.

MzansReggae caught up with Jahmena the organizer to find out from her how it all went down and her thought about Women in Reggae:

Jahmena Nights – Blue Hall, Site C, Khayelitsha
Sista Jahmena

Who is Anela Jahmena?
Anela Jahmena is an activist working with Soundz of the South a collective that uses music as a tool to organise and mobile against all forms of Oppression and as a tool to promote social changes.

Reasons for hosting an all-Female Line Up?
With my organisation we have been working to create spaces where we address social injustices and with that said a realisation came that women are the most marginalised people in society and on a global aspect, And for me I have experienced this first hand in the Rasta Reggae community and it was only apparent that my response would be to challenge the myth surrounding the exclusion of Women in Mzansi Reggae Platforms that states that we are not visible and how better do we do so than creating an all women Platform to shatter that myth and clearly expose the deliberate attempt that seeks to undermine the role of female artist in Reggae while they also have contributed to the now slowly growing industry.

Are you Happy with the turn out?
I was quite happy with the turn out and it was not an all-female audience, there was a huge support from our brothers as well to add to that unforeseen event occurred that our female DJ couldn’t make it, but fortunately two Male Djs availed themselves and that for me insured that the universe has a way of restoring balance which is what women hope to achieve in the fight for visibility and their Liberation that we are treated as equals to our male counter parts.

What other challenges did you come across?
There were challenges but I was not fazed by criticism from Male promoters who made it seem like the show was an attack on them as it seeks to address the exclusion of Women in Reggae.

Are you planning to host it annually?
Either the event will be Annual but taking a different shape than that of 2019 as we sent the message to be clear that women won’t beg for space but they will create their own spaces where they will be visible and heard.

Women in Reggae Fest – Lebo’s Backpackers, Soweto
DJ Empress Supreme

Meanwhile back In Johannesburg, Women in Reggae Fest, a brain child of Motsatsing Ntsamai known as DjMofaya, was held on the 30th at the beautiful lawns of Lebo’s backpackers, in Soweto. The festival’s aim was also to give women in Mzansi reggae a platform where they can showcase their skills. The all-female line up was made up of Thandeka Shabalala aka DJ Tandaring Dawta, DJ TeedoLove, Mystikal Ebony, DJ Supreme, Mo Faya, Tumi from the Gang, Moon Queen, Reign Africa and more.

The turnout was rather disappointing, but I believe everyone who was there would agree that; that was something every reggae lover should have witnessed, we are all sleeping on the talent of our female DJs and Artists and it was truly refreshing to witness all of that talent under one roof, notwithstanding the fact that Last Born was an MC, it would have been a cherry on top to have had a female MC on stage but in the years that I have been active in the reggae scene I have yet to see a woman take the mic from the regular male MC’s, maybe this is a chance for one or two or three ladies to tap into their toasting skills.

One by One the Ladies got on stage and showed us what they are made of, one of the highlights was DJ Tandaring Dawta’s set, and she played an all-female set which also proves that we have enough Empresses to hold it down. Surprise act of the day was Sista Phumi Maduna who came on stage with Thuthukani Cele and performed her hits from the 90’s. That was a great call and that certainly put a rubber stamp on the fest and I hope all the younger Female Artists and DJs learnt a thing or two from the veteran, her finesse and confidence on stage is certainly something to take that note of.

I could go on and on about what needs to be improved but not to damper this special moments, both festivals shows that Empresses are able to hold theirs down and it’s time Mzansi Reggae promoters take them seriously. All they need is support.

DJ Mystical Ebony and Reign Africa

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