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The ascension of Mavazi

By Sinethemba Mthabela

Immigrants from all parts of the world leave their native countries in search of greener pastures. Senegalese-born singer Akon made a name for himself in the USA by embracing his singing talent and going against the grain. South Africa is no different.

Emmanuel Mpanda (29) arrived in Johannesburg, from Tanzania, more than a decade ago to pursue his dreams. Mpanda aka ‘Mavazi’ is a hip hop artist who takes pride in his culture and makes it evident by rapping in Swahili.

“Everybody covets the good life and tries by all means to avoid poverty. I left Tanzania to pursue my dreams here and make it as an artist”, he said.

Life hasn’t been easy though with Mavazi working as a barber in one of Johannesburg’s downtown salons in order to make ends meet. The inspiration behind his moniker was its Swahili connotation. The term describes an ambitious person with an appetite for the finer things in life. This can be picked up in his songs that address social issues and discrimination against foreigners in South Africa.

“In Tanzania foreigners are treated with the utmost respect because they are believed to contribute to the economy,” he added, “South Africa unfortunately doesn’t reciprocate that.”

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