“I just want to spend time with my sisters and I want to revel in the power of women, and to celebrate what I have seen women do in my time,” says Thandiswa Mazwai, or King Tha as she likes to be known, about her 42nd birthday celebrations coming up on March 31.
“It’s a womxn-only event. No cis men,” reads her Twitter profile, meaning no men whose gender identity solely corresponds to their assigned birth gender.
Chatting to City Press in Newtown, where she was rehearsing with her band, the Afro-soul superstar and activist said she’s not trying to make a statement against men. Instead, she wants to celebrate women and welcomes anyone who identifies as woman.
“And I do think that there is something bold in choosing a particular audience. In creating ‘only’ spaces. The act in itself is revolutionary because there’s something about women owning their own time, owning their ability to spend time in each other’s company that isn’t really accepted in society. Society wants women to be told what to do. For us choosing to spend this time with each other is a revolutionary act,” she says in her colourful dashiki dress, her hair in a mohawk.
The artist, who 20 years ago led the kwaito revolution as lead singer in the band Bongo Maffin, is today a powerful cultural figure who celebrates Xhosa womanhood across diverse musical genres.
King Tha Day is relying only on women vendors and suppliers and will feature talks by leading women thinkers and activists. Pumla Dineo Gqola, a professor at Wits, arts editor Milisuthando Bongela and queer activist Bev Ditsie will unpack issues of feminism, love and media consumption of women.
“Some of the talks are going to be filmed and put up online because I think these particular women are voices that need to be heard all over the world,” says Thandiswa, adding that she is also going to be featuring the new generation of Fallists who had a huge impact on her own thinking.
Preparations for the show “have been insane” she says. “There’s rehearsals, photo shoots, design concepts, hair concepts ... There’s a lot going on!” she says, her face lighting up with excitement.
“I am starting to really imagine how I am going to control the energy of the whole thing. This whole room is going to be sparked. I have to make sure that everybody is on my wavelength.”
. The show takes place at the Newtown Music Factory on March 31 at 9pm. Tickets are available here.