Ndingumnqweno wezolo (I am yesterday’s dream),
Ndilizwi egazini (I am the voice in my blood),
Ndisisinqe samaphupha (I am the waist upon which dreams rest),
Ndilithemba xaliphela (I am hope when you feel like giving up),
Ndizinyembezi zadlula (I am tears gone by),
Ndililanga liyaphuma (I am the sun as it rises),
Ndiyingoma yobomi (I am the eternal song)
These are some of the uplifting lyrics to my favourite Simphiwe Dana song, Ndize Mama Tata, from her debut album Zandisile released in 2004. I constantly go back to these words whenever I go through a rough patch. I’ve even planned on etching them onto my skin through a tattoo. They are the perfect embodiment of this incredible woman who, through the poetry of the Xhosa language and immaculate musical production, has attained icon status in the music industry. On the eve of the release of her fifth studio album, she spent the day with us, and we chatted about her life as well as how it influences her art. On the day of the cover shoot, the singer is bubbly and talkative with an excited energy that infects the whole crew. Even though the shoot is long, she suggests we do the interview on the same day. The Eastern Cape native, who has spoken openly about struggling with depression, explains that she is having a good day and would rather we capitalize on that since we don’t know what the next day could bring in terms of her mood. This then kicks off one of the most affirming interviews of my life.
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