We all remember Sho Madjozi’s vibrant, dynamic, and incredibly engaging performance on the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 stage, how could you not? At the time she was a newcomer whose energy was both refreshing and infectious, and whose lively dance moves and colourful attire kept your eyes glued to the stage.
Three years later, her exciting performances have remained her trademark, and she’s continued to grow into an important representation of the modern African woman — taking the utmost pride in her Tsonga heritage and showcasing the beauty of South African culture to a worldwide audience.
However, she doesn’t just proudly wave the South African flag, the 29-year-old rapper incorporates a fusion of several African cultures into her artistry. From rapping swiftly in Swahili — a language predominantly spoken in Southern and East African countries like Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda to name a few — to donning Fulani braids, a hairstyle with origins in the Western parts of Africa, Madjozi makes sure to put Africa on the map with everything that she does.
Hers is an artistry that reflects the image of an entire continent, and is a reminder to the people that hail from it that their home cultures are worth celebrating.
We can’t wait for her performance at Global Citizen Live on Sept. 25, where she’ll be representing the continent alongside Tiwa Savage, Davido, Femi Kuti, and Made Kuti who will take to the stage in Lagos, as well as Angélique Kidjo and Burna Boy who will be joining the live events in Paris and New York respectively.
Global Citizen Live is a once-in-a-generation event that forms part of our Recovery Plan for the World, a year-long campaign that calls on leaders to help end the pandemic equitably, defeat poverty, and defend the planet.
The 24-hour global broadcast will showcase performances from some of the world’s biggest artists across seven continents, and will bring together activists, world leaders, business leaders, and philanthropists to prioritise climate change, extreme hunger, and vaccine equity. Global Citizens can back the campaign by taking action on the Global Citizen app, or on the Global Citizen website.
Madjozi’s signature look includes the Xibelani skirt, a piece of Tsonga attire traditionally worn as part of the celebratory dance of the same name. She modernised the purpose of the skirt by wearing it often as part of her performances and not just on special occasions as is customary, and by styling it with a pair of sneakers and accessories from different cultures. Speaking at the Design Indaba conference in 2019, the artist explained that she takes every opportunity to flaunt her culture and said: “If we only wear it on special occasions, who are we the rest of the time?”
On the idea of mixing looks from different cultures, Madjozi told Vogue: “I wanted to reimagine what a young African woman would wear. What she would do with her hair, and what accessories she would use.”
The rapper has taken it one step further and is also inspiring a younger generation to wear pan-African pride on their sleeves, by producing a limited collection of traditional attire specifically designed for children, in celebration of South Africa’s Heritage Day. Proceeds from sales will go straight to the women who make the clothes.
“Our mini heritage project gives children an opportunity to celebrate their wonderful cultures while also supporting the women who make traditional attire,” a statement on Madjozi’s website reads. “Kids are free to explore any culture they like and all the proceeds will go directly to the women makers.”
The artist does more than showcase Africa on the world stage, too, she’s also a dedicated advocate for women and girls — one who’s used her platform to uplift and inspire young girls, and to tackle period poverty. In 2019 she partnered with menstrual hygiene brand StayFree on a campaign that aimed to help bring an end to the stigma surrounding periods.
"Our main goal is to inspire the girls to reach their dreams, even when they are on their period,” Madjozi told Times Live. “We don't want your period to stop you from what you are doing or achieving your dreams.”
Speaking to People about the campaign, Madjozi said: “I had to learn the hard way through a lot of confusion and ruined underwear and it’s my hope for girls out there, that as they enter into this stage, they are more prepared and more comfortable with their bodies.”
This will be Madjozi’s third time performing with Global Citizen and we cannot wait to see what the South African artist has in store. Find out more about Global Citizen Live and take action with Sho Madjozi to defend the planet and defeat poverty here.
You can join the Global Citizen Live campaign to defend the planet and defeat poverty by taking action here, and become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action together with governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make change.