Simphiwe Dana: I am an activist at heart

Simphiwe Dana. (Photo: Marijke Willems)
Simphiwe Dana. (Photo: Marijke Willems)

CELEBRATED afro-soul and jazz singer, Simphiwe Dana (36), says the struggle for free education must carry on. The award-winning muso, who attracted media attention when she joined the #FeesMustFall Movement that saw students and sympathisers taking to the streets to fight for free university education last year, says she won't back down until students’ demands are met. Simphiwe holds a diploma in IT from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and she is currently pursuing her honours degree in Developmental Studies at Wits. 


The singer, who has nine albums under her name, also uses her music as a tool to address social issues in South Africa. She often voices her opinion about socio-political challenges facing our country, and makes her black consciousness and feminist views clearly known. “I don’t shy away from including social messages in my music. I’m an activist at heart. I’m very passionate about this continent and justice, so my work is very much in that space at all times,” she says. According to an article from the SABC3 online news platform, Simphiwe is the first African ambassador for the human rights initiative – Amnesty International.


In 2011, the musician made headlines when she was involved in a Twitter argument with Helen Zille over racism in Cape Town. But the outspoken musician did not end there. Last year, she shared her views on the #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh. This was after black pupils in Pretoria Girls High were instructed to straighten their afro hair. According to Herald Live, Simphiwe launched an attack on Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and the African National Congress (ANC), following comments by the minister defending the school’s code of conduct. Weighing in on the debate, the songstress took to Twitter to voice her anger and disbelief over the minister’s comments. “Waking up to the news that our Minister of Education Angie Motshekga sees nothing wrong with racist policies that discriminate against our children in these schools. Just more proof of how the ANC government has failed to deal with racism even though they have had 22 years to do so‚”  wrote the mother of two.


With 12 years in the entertainment industry, the singer says her music is inspired by the human condition. Because of the sound and the message in some of her songs, the singer has been hailed as the new Miriam Makeba. She says for her to be compared to the legendary singer is such an honour. “It’s an honour for me, and it’s also very big shoes to fill,” says the Eastern-Cape born star.

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