Women of Wonder

Sho Madjozi is shifting the industry, one xibelani at a time

06 August 2020 - 06:00 By Busang Senne
Sho Madjozi shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Sho Madjozi shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Image: Gallo/Oupa Bopape

WHO IS SHE?

Sho Madjozi, the pen name of 28-year-old Maya Wegerif, is the award-winning, multidisciplinary, multilingual rapper from Limpopo known for her celebration of Tsonga culture and language.

CLAIM TO FAME

Madjozi remains an important contributor and collaborator in global pop culture by putting Xitsonga at the forefront of mainstream culture and integrating eclectic sounds inspired by diverse African genres including Gqom, afrobeats, and hip hop.

Not only is she influencing a pan-African perspective on the current zeitgeist, but she is also capturing a re-imagination of the global south with her vibrant style that often includes rainbow Fulani braids (also known as “Madjozi braids” in SA) and traditional xibelani skirt, making her the new standard for the African cultural icon.

INSPIRATION 

Sho Madjozi’s been cutting her teeth on EPs and featuring on singles with big names but proved she can hold her own with the release of her highly anticipated debut album Limpopo Champions League in 2018, with hits including Huku, Kona and Wakanda Forever. That year, she shared the stage with mega stars Beyoncé, Usher and Ed Sheeran at the Global Citizen Festival.

In 2019, Madjozi was the first African woman to win the BET Award for best new international artist. She also won the South African Music Award (Sama) for best newcomer and female artist and was named the Forbes 2019 entertainer of the year.

Madjozi released her viral hit about the WWE legend John Cena and shows no signs of stopping because in 2020 she became the first African artist to sign to US label Epic Records.

With her unapologetic shout-outs to her heritage, Madjozi has made a space for increased visibility of minority cultures in SA to participate in the broader cultural conversation and has been instrumental in the #blackgirlmagic movement that encourages authentic representation of African women in media.

IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW

Sho Madjozi is best known for her songwriting and music, but she also dabbled in performance art under the name Maya the Poet and has a degree in African studies and a creative writing from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

As part of her BET Award acceptance speech, Madjozi summed up exactly why SA and the world is captivated by the dynamic wonder: “My story is a testament that you can come from any village, in any forgotten part of the world, and still be a superstar.”