South Africa's Boldest Women in Music on the Ultimate 'Girl Power' Anthems

We asked some of our favourite artists in South Africa what they're listening to this Women’s Month.

Women’s Month is officially underway in South Africa. It’s a time to reflect on the phenomenal, kick-ass women in our lives and throughout history. We asked some of the boldest women in South African music to share their ultimate girl power anthems. Here’s what your favourite artists are listening to this Women’s Month.

Dope Saint Jude

Nicki Minaj – “Did It On Em”

“Naturally, I selected a track by Nicki Minaj. This song is totally subversive. My favourite line is ‘If I had a dick I would pull it out and piss on em.’ I like the way Nicki subverts the masculine hip hop archetype––and you can tell she is being cheeky in her delivery. She flips masculinity on its head and demonstrates the bravado we expect males in hip hop to be spitting. This track makes me feel powerful in a way that is totally unapologetic. When I listen to this, I feel sexy, feminine and like I have zero f*cks to give.”

Yvonne Chaka Chaka

Yvonne Chaka Chaka – “W(ell) O(rganised) Man (WOMAN)”

"My choice of song is one that I wrote entitled 'W(ell) O(rganised) Man (WOMAN).' It is from my 2012 album Amazing Man. This song is about the WOMAN. She is strong, she is vulnerable, she is assertive and she is humble. Women are taking up more powerful spaces in our society and as a woman, I am always inspired by the tenacity and strength of the many women who have gone against all odds to make their voices known in the world. This song is for all of us women!"

Manteiga (of Batuk)

Osunlade ft. Nadirah Shakoor – “Pride”

“This song was released in 2002 and I remember how madly in love I was with it when it came out. Everybody listening to soulful house at the time will speak of how huge this song was. It speaks of prides as if we are strong powerful lions and lionesses....it speaks of being proud, of being black, of being a woman, of being a goddess, a flower, a sun. It is the kind of song that builds me up inside. I've seen both men and women sing this song out loud, and it's usually sung with their eyes tightly shut. Deep emotion for those few minutes. I roar when I hear this song! I fall in love with it each time I hear it and it makes me extra proud of who we are as women and as black phenomenal forces of nature, living in our PRIDE.”

Zaki Ibrahim

Laura Mvula – “Phenomenal Woman”

"Video filmed in Bo-Kaap Cape Town and it reminds me a lot of my childhood. I don't know who directed it, but it looks like something Zandi Tisani would do.

I was put on to Laura by one of my besties a few years ago and she told me that she reminded her of me..so I didn't check her out. lol ..not right away at least. I think most artists are a bit weirded out when people tell them they are 'like' someone else.

When I did, it was a beautiful thing. I could sort of see what she meant. I suppose it could be in that we write similarly and it seems that we might listen for and might be looking to say the same things in our music. This woman is not only fiercely gorgeous, but she inspires other woman by just being herself.

This song belongs at the top of everyones' playlist (who feels to slay), for getting ready for the day, a big meeting, big night, a new date, a new year, a new life.

‘OH MY MY She Fly, OH MY She Fight!’ Love this song, LOVE this woman!"

Toya Delazy

Neneh Cherry – “Woman”

“The title says it all. I resonate with song because I have been in her position. Women are powerful! And were it not for woman, no man would exist. I love how she paints that picture in a loving way. Whether you are a guy or a girl you can't help but appreciate the women in you life after listening to this very empowering song.

My favorite line : ‘but I'm the kind of woman that was made to last, they tried erasing me, but they couldn't wipe out my past.’”

Simphiwe Dana

Busi Mhlongo

“She embodied the ultimate woman for me. Both soft and strong. Both highly discerning and consciously naive. Always seeking the best experience from life, without taking anything away from anyone. Addicted to the joy of giving.”

Patty Monroe

Godessa – “Nguwe”

“The reasons behind my choice is a reminder of the endless possibilities a woman is capable of. It talks of how man flows through the belly of her kindness and yet is still aware of the savageness she brings. ‘Just like a menstrual cycle the goddess will return.’ So it's in our best interests to respect all women.”

Manthe Ribane

Zaki Ibrahim ft. Hallie Switzer – “Oh Love”

“Zaki Ibrahim has played a big role in my life. She inspired me so much to be where I am. The reason I picked ‘Oh Love’ is because we love love so much, that sometimes love does not love us back. But the beauty of it is not always finding someone to love you, but also finding self-love. And just being solid with yourself, and finding love within yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you’ll find someone who will truly love you for who you are. Even if you’re in a relationship, the only way for someone to love you is when they see how much you love yourself and take care of yourself.”

Okzharp ft. Manthe Ribane – “Sizzr”

“The second song is my song ‘Sizzr,’ which I worked on with Okzharp. At that time in my life I was transcending into a new me. I was ready for it. And I had to realise what I’m here for. And this song is such a motivational song. Not only to me, but to most people that have heard it. We got to Hot 99 on YFM top one for three weeks, and for people to even still play it now, for me it’s so important to be part of something that is so motivational. I don’t know how many people really love this song, but I trust that whoever listens to it they can get up in the morning and it can really make a difference, a positive difference in their lives.”

Malonku (Nonku Phiri + Maloon TheBoom) – “The Answer”

“The third and last song is by Nonku Phiri. I mean, who doesn’t love Nonku Phiri? Her voice is such a healing power. She’s got so much power within her voice. And I’m so proud of her. She’s a good friend of mine, and growing up and seeing her growth and listening to her music really helped me to transcend into my own chapter within music.”

Moonchild Sanelly

Moonchild Sanelly – “VUMA”

“The song came to me as I'm always imagining or hearing sexual deprivation stories mainly from liberated independent women with no voice in the bedroom only because they are polite. Afraid to make their partners inadequate. The point to this song is that all humans matter in a relationship. Our sexual appetite isn't limited. We matter. The topic gets broad because I recognise homosexual relationships too hence I've specified 'partner' because we are such a diverse people to be limited or write limited to SEXUALITY when gumans go thru same experiences thru different experiences at different times.

Moral of the story is we all have needs and I hope my partner can accommodate because I want nothing better than being his freak!!!”

Push Push

Moonchild Sanelly – “Mali”

“Moonchild's ‘Mali’ is my ultimate feel-good song. It's one of those songs that no matter how many times I've had it on repeat, it never feels overplayed.”

Babes Wodumo ft. Mampintsha – “Wololo”

“‘Wololo’ by Babes Wodumo is another track that brings me all the good feels! Babes Wodumo is an incredible artist and I can't wait to see and hear more from her this year. I'm playing a show with her on the 27th in Joburg, alongside a host of other amazing South African women.”


Blood Orange – “By Ourselves”

“There's a line in that record that reassures me how important I am and how every woman is amazing. How I'm amazing and should acknowledge the light and strength of another without competing with them or allowing myself to get intimidated by her strength, her beauty, her success etc.

That song comes [with] hits like the sermon I was never taught as a young girl going through some hard crap trying to [figure] out what being a woman is and constantly trying to learn that from TV programs. I'm commissioned to succeed to be wealthy, to be healthy, to be whole so that when I lack nothing I can go to that girl with nobody and team up with her and assist her to get in formation so she too touch another.”

Kyla-Rose Smith (of Freshlyground)

Patti Smith – “Piss Factory”

“I just love the hardcore attitude of this song. It’s not a ‘respect me, because I am a woman’ kinda song, it’s more like ‘I know exactly what I want, I see the world for what it is and I am not gonna let it get me down!’

This song originated as a poem written by Smith about the time she spent working in a baby buggy factory, and she’s expressing her assurance that she would not let this experience kill her ambitions. ‘I refuse to lose, I refuse to fall down’ This woman is just a total badass!”

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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