My Miriam Makeba Story

by Sima Mashazi

Awarded with the Kanna Award for Best Music Production in 2019 (Klein Karoo National Arts Festival)

Sima is a rising star in South Africa. She performed the role of the young Miriam in the first musical about Mama Africa (touring US and SA). The experience deepened Sima’s admiration for Makeba’s music and the woman behind it. In this show Sima shares the themes in Makeba’s music and life that touched her and bear similarities to her own journey. Sima includes songs of her own that relate to Makeba’s story. In ‘My Miriam Makeba Story’, Sima pays tribute to a historical figure who spoke truth through her lyrics and gave hope to so many, amidst her own struggles. “It has been an amazing experience portraying her and I have learned so much about her that I didn’t know,” Sima says. “I love how she used her voice to speak the truth of her reality and instigate change”. Expect world famous hits like Phatha Phatha to less-known gems like Suliram (an Indonesian lullaby) and expect to be mesmerized and inspired by the talent of rising star, Sima Mashazi.

This show ran at Woordfees 2018, Heritage Month Celebrations (Artscape 2018), Freestate Arts Festival 2018, KKNK 2019 and Suidoosterfees 2019. It won the Kanna award for Best Music Production at KKNK 2019. The show will also be seen at Fynarts Festival (Hermanus) in June and at the Pierneef Teater (Pretoria) and Foxwood House (Johannesburg) in July 2019.

“Although I was familiar with her most famous hits, I actually only heard many of her songs later in my life,” says Simangele “Sima” Mashazi about iconic local singer Miriam Makeba. “This is because much of her music was banned here in South Africa for so long.”

This admission from singer/songwriter Sima is somewhat ironic, given that she spent parts of 2016 and early 2017 on stages in Cape Town, New York and St. Louis, portraying a younger version of the legendary Makeba in Mama Africa, a musical about Makeba’s often tumultuous life.

Although Sima is herself a seasoned performer, having headlined at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees and at the 2016 Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Mama Africa was her first foray into theatre.

Sima, whose voice has been lauded as “angelic” by reviewers, says she was told that she was chosen because there is a clarity and sweetness to her voice that is reminiscent of Makeba’s distinctive tone. Despite being “daunted” by the task, Sima went on to give a critically acclaimed portrayal of Makeba by singing and dancing her way through much of Makeba’s discography. With her captivating performance, Sima transported audiences to glimpse Makeba as a young girl, a devoted daughter, a teen mom, wife, lover, performer and political activist, who spent much of her life in exile from her beloved motherland.

“It has been an amazing experience portraying her and I have learned so much about her that I didn’t know,” Sima says. “I love how she used her voice to speak the truth of her reality and instigate change”.