By Shingai Darangwa
As a point of departure for those trying to define her sound Asanda Msaki Mvana refers to herself as an indie afro folk artist. It’s a title that she feels positions her accurately in terms of culture, language and who she is as a musician - an independent thinker whose music tells the African story as she sees it.
Speaking over the phone from her home in East London Msaki, as she’s known in the world of music, tells me how the rain is teeming down outside. In many spaces, rain is said to represent emotions of sadness and anger, both emotions which align with the music she’s currently working on. Music that carries with it an angrier theme that is much less personal than her 2016 debut album Zaneliza: How the Water Moves.
“What else can you go back to when things around you seem like they’re falling apart and you feel like you’re in a country where politicians don’t give a fuss about you, and other people that you’re sharing a space with think that you’re nothing because of your skin colour,” she explains.
“There are so many things that are happening: statues are falling, kids have to protest for their hair, people are still fighting against rape culture. Those are the daily things that we have to deal with, but at the same time there’s this medium that I have that I use to discuss things that are a bit heavy.”
This feeling doesn’t accurately reflect this exceptional up-andcoming musician’s life right now. Following a breakthrough year in 2016 and the very recent birth of her second child, Msaki’s life is overflowing with joy. And 2017 looks likely to be yet another watershed year where she turns into a full blown superstar.
Msaki spends a lot of her time in a rural coastal town called Hamburg which is about an hour away. It’s there that she’s working on a longterm music and arts festival with the community in an attempt to be closer to the people and help uplift the community.
“We’ve had a few showcases and we’ve had a few collaborative festivals. So I’ll bring bigger artists to sort of collaborate with smaller entities in Hamburg like a gospel choir or a drama group. They also have a children’s orchestra there that they’re training.”