Nomsa and Thandiswa Mazwai make a song about people living fake social media lives

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Nomsa Mazwai has written a song calling on South Africans to reflect on how fake social media can be.
Nomsa Mazwai has written a song calling on South Africans to reflect on how fake social media can be.
PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/Oupa Bopape

They have always been close, but even though they've had careers in the same industry, they never made a song together.

Now the Mazwai sisters Nomsa and Thandiswa have finally laid down a track together.

Instalife is Nomsa’s brainchild after the looting that took place in South Africa in July. But making a song with her sister was never part of plan but it was a happy accident. And Nomsa is quite happy with the results. 

“Social media globally is a problem where people portray lives they do not really live. In turn, it has increased the numbers of people who are depressed because they cannot live a certain lifestyle they are seeing on social media.

“Also, there is the issue people behaving in a certain way that they would not behave if they were in real life. People just want to live the Instalife and I just want to know at what cost,” she says.

Nomsa has a master’s degree in economics, and she says her music is always reflective of that.

Read more | Thandiswa Mazwai remembers her mother 28 years after her passing: ‘She was super stylish and super smart!’

“Most of my songs are centered about socio economic issues. I believe that it is always very important to have dialogues about where we are as a nation, and I am grateful that the arts are always able to help reflect in this country.

She says people see hashtags online and want things they cannot afford.

“We need to check ourselves a community. What kind of a society are we if we are only focused on ourselves and not the next person? People are glorifying others who are portraying lives they do not really live. Sometimes people go to bar and take pictures with expensive bottles of alcohol that they do not even open.

thandiswa
Thandiswa Mazwai is featured on her little sister, Nomsa's new song, Instalife.

“After they take the pictures, they return the alcohol and post pictures. Then people look at those pictures and wish they had that soft life, but it was not real in the first place. It is all a performance and not real life.”

She says the looting in July was also an indication of the societal problems.

“There were young and old looters and there were poor and rich people which then says some people were not looting for survival. For those who were looting for survival, we need to ask ourselves what we can do as community members to help government and for the other group of people we need to understand why they were looting when they did not need it.”

During the looting days in July, she received a beat from a friend in Italy and while standing, looking outside at people looting Jabulani Mall from her window, she thought of the words.

“Thandiswa listens to all the work I do and so I sent her this song like I usually do and she said something was missing. We changed around a few things and she still felt something was missing. I told her about a studio session that I had and she came through.

Read more | Nomsa Mazwai supports the decriminalisation of sex work

“Then while there, she sang what she wanted me to add on to it and she left. After she was gone, we listened to it and I wanted to keep her in it. I told her that I liked what she did and I wanted to keep it and she was cool. So really God’s timing is perfect because she and I never planned to make a song together and now look at this dope one we have made.”

Nomsa also has an initiative called #FunkItImWalking which aims to make it safe for women to walk at any time of day in any condition.

She believes the lack of safety in South Africa is even a hinderance for tourism.

“We have a wonderful country with beaches and safaris but there are people who are too scared to come here because it is not safe. Even locals have concerns with safety. In Soweto there are so many businesses which could thrive if they operated 24 hours a day but because of safety concerns, they can’t.

“Safety is important for the economy as well as for society. We are trying to raise that awareness by even having night walks, on Saturdays we clean up around Soweto doing community awareness drives. Cleaner communities are safer communities, safer communities have an opportunity to prosper. There are people who think they are not safe because they are poor when in reality they are poor because they are not safe,” she adds.

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