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Dj Noma Nomalizo Penelope Gasa Fb

Sounds of the world : Music against gender-based violence in South Africa

Gen­der-based vio­lence in South Afri­ca is an issue which affec­ted more than 120,000 new vic­tims, pre­do­mi­nant­ly women, imme­dia­te­ly after the imple­men­ta­tion of a natio­nal lock­down in 2020. Though natio­nal fun­ding has increa­sed to improve the govern­ment’s res­ponse to the cri­sis, cases have not decrea­sed in num­ber. Various civil ser­vice groups, inclu­ding an orga­ni­za­tion by the name of “Men Against Child Abuse” and the “Black Womxn Cau­cus” have high­ligh­ted the impor­tance of change in cultu­ral and social approaches towards tack­ling gen­der-based vio­lence in South Afri­ca, rather than changes in fis­cal poli­cies or other govern­men­tal initiatives. 

Some signi­fi­cant artists have also high­ligh­ted alter­na­tive approaches to this natio­nal “epi­de­mic”. R&B and Afro-soul sen­sa­tion Loyi­so Gija­na cata­pul­ted him­self into the use of his music for social pur­poses. He advo­cats to hold accoun­table per­pe­tra­tors of gen­der based vio­lence in South Africa.

Before 2015, Gija­na was living a nor­mal life as a uni­ver­si­ty student at Muir Col­lege in Uiten­hage, South Afri­ca. His life took an unex­pec­ted turn after suc­cess­ful­ly ente­ring the natio­nal sin­ging rea­li­ty show “Idols South Afri­ca,” rising to fame in the coun­try. In line with the ten­den­cies of his digi­ti­zed gene­ra­tion, his online fol­lo­wing now exceeds 230 thou­sand fol­lo­wers on Ins­ta­gram. Renow­ned South Afri­ca Label Ambi­tiouz Enter­tain­ment then deci­ded to sign him and Gija­na has since begun crea­ting his own ori­gi­nal music. Although his suc­cess began with pop, r&b, and soul covers of tren­dy and com­mer­cial songs, Gija­na has begun impor­tant conver­sa­tions regar­ding sub­jects inclu­ding men­tal health and the femi­cide cri­sis in South Afri­ca through his music, inter­views and social media. 

Loyi­so Gija­na – Mado­da Sabelani 

Mado­da Sabe­la­ni, writ­ten and voi­ced by Loyi­so Gija­na, is a com­pel­ling plea to work to end the see­min­gly end­less plague of abuse and vio­lence towards women. Mado­da Sabe­la­ni, mea­ning “Men Must Ans­wer” in isiX­ho­sa (a Ngu­ni Ban­tu lan­guage), car­ries Gijana’s clas­sic Afro-Gos­pel sound in his heart-felt invo­ca­tion. Repea­ting “Ndiya Than­da­za nko­si”, mea­ning “I’m praying lord”, he stresses the des­pe­rate nature of his appeal and the grim rea­li­ty he faces. Almost equal­ly as power­ful as the piece, is the visual com­ponent which fea­tures the pic­tures of a hand­ful of slain and abu­sed women – one of which was his close friend. 

The song, accom­pa­nied by the pas­sing images of femi­cide vic­tims, became not only a cry for help, but a eulo­gy, remem­be­ring the many inno­cent vic­tims. In an inter­view with Afri­ca Newz­room, Gija­na was moved by the res­ponses to his video. Audiences had taken to his musi­cal plea and had been tho­rough­ly sha­ken by the images of the vic­tims ; some as young as six years old. “People loved it”, Gija­na said, but the love shown for his piece, he reco­gnizes, is part of grea­ter soli­da­ri­ty in the ongoing struggle against the sen­se­less tar­ge­ting of women rather than appre­cia­tion for the music alone. 

Even after Gijana’s new work was relea­sed in June of last year, a rising female artist, DJ Noma, who also was a sol­dier within the South Afri­can Natio­nal Defense Force, relea­sed her second song Walk With Me with a simi­lar aim. Its pur­pose was to publi­cly denounce gen­der based vio­lence which led to the death of thou­sands of South Afri­can women, by contri­bu­ting to the same move­ment of which Gijana’s Mado­da Sabe­la­ni was a part of.

DJ Noma – Walk With Me


Even after such artists have par­ti­ci­pa­ted both publi­cly and pri­va­te­ly to fight against gen­der based vio­lence in South Afri­ca, its citi­zens and refu­gees within the ter­ri­to­ry are conti­nuous­ly faced with obs­tacles to suf­fi­cient­ly pro­tect them­selves and their com­mu­ni­ties from vio­lence. Xeno­pho­bia and racial dis­cri­mi­na­tion remain ever present and lack of pro­se­cu­tion and convic­tion in domes­tic vio­lence cases, as obser­ved by the Uni­ted Nations, has only inten­si­fied – hence the still unfi­led obli­ga­tion for the South Afri­can govern­ment, cri­mi­nal jus­tice sys­tem, and law enfor­ce­ment to improve how domes­tic vio­lence cases are addres­sed on a day-to-day basis

It will be up to musi­cians to conti­nue this artis­tic move­ment for social jus­tice, yet it will also take addi­tio­nal action on behalf of govern­ment and local autho­ri­ties to deli­ver legal pro­tec­tion to the women of South Afri­ca today.


The author :

Michelle Bru­cker is a Poli­ti­cal Science student from Sciences Po Paris. She is a clas­si­cal pia­nist and young wri­ter cur­rent­ly inter­ning at the Cen­ter for Inter­na­tio­nal Rela­tions and Sus­tai­nable Development. 


pho­to : DJ Noma – Noma­li­zo Pene­lope Gasa – from face­book


Cet article en anglais est le résul­tat d’un pro­jet col­la­bo­ra­tif entre #Aux­Sons et Ale­jan­dro Abbud Torres Tori­ja, pro­fes­seur à Sciences Po Paris Cam­pus Reims, et contri­bu­teur régu­lier d’#AuxSons. Dans le cadre du cours “Sons du monde : la musique comme miroir de l’intime et du col­lec­tif” des étu­diants inter­na­tio­naux de Sciences Po Paris Cam­pus Reims se sont pen­chés sur les liens entre musiques des quatre coins du monde et enjeux sociopolitiques. 

This article is a result of a col­la­bo­ra­tive pro­ject bet­ween #Aux­Sons and Ale­jan­dro Abbud Torres Tori­ja, lec­tu­rer at Sciences Po Paris Cam­pus Reims, and regu­lar contri­bu­tor to #Aux­Sons. As part of the class “Sounds of the world : Music as mir­ror of the inti­mate and the col­lec­tive”, inter­na­tio­nal stu­dents from Sciences Po Paris Cam­pus Reims pre­pa­red articles pre­sen­ting contem­po­ra­ry music from dif­ferent parts of the world in connec­tion with recent socio-poli­ti­cal events.

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