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Image courtesy of Showmax.

‘Joko ya Hao’ is Not Your Typical Apartheid Film

South African filmmaker Mmabatho Montsho doesn't rely on the politics of her new film to carry it along, but instead imposes her authorial voice on a tribute to Winnie Madikizela Mandela.

The defining flaw of the post-94 apartheid film is always its focus on the macro—the issues, the big political figureheads and so forth. The recently released short film Joko ya Hao (currently streaming on Showmax) signifies a continued stepping away from this conventional wisdom towards a more nuanced history from below.

Filmmaker Mmabatho Montsho does not linger on black pain, towering over it pornographically on Joho ya Hao. Instead, she zooms in; we see crying eyes and an attempt to wash hands red with blood. The objective is not to generate mere anger at the political moment as most films tend to do, but to do the more challenging work of making the viewer intimately aware of its human costs.

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Interview
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Simphiwe Dana's New Album 'Bamako' Lays Bare Her Musical Ingenuity

"I am kind of a genius," says the South African artist about her exquisite new album, an Afro-fusion extravaganza featuring the legendary Salif Keita.

Simphiwe Dana is without a doubt, one of South Africa's very best musicians. With over a decade in the music industry, Dana has shown her tremendous versatility, mastery of her craft and originality without wavering. There's a reason why Dana has often made her fans wait for long periods of time between album releases. Each album and project has been better than its predecessor

What has made Dana stand out head and shoulders above her peers has been her ability to comment on the human condition and experience in all its complexity. From addressing the political climate of the country and constantly shining a light on the inequalities of South African society to showing vulnerability by sharing with her fans some of her own personal challenges, Dana has more than earned her stripes as a musician.

She's given South Africans timeless hits such as "Ndiredi", "Inkwenkwezi" and "Bantu Biko Street" as well as collaborations with some of the greats. Her latest 13-track album titled Bamako is no different. Largely influenced by the time she spent in Mali's capital city of Bamako, the album is an Afro-fusion extravaganza with an old-school feel to it.

We caught up with the artist to discuss her new album, the creative process behind it, working with the legendary Salif Keita and navigating life as an artist amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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