Simphiwe Dana – between tradition and modernity

Singer in conversation with the German gateway to South Africa

(Autorin/ Editor: Anne Schroeter)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Simphiwe Dana ist jene südafrikanische Sängerin, die afrikanische Klänge mit afroamerikanischen Musikrichtungen wie Jazz, Gospel oder Hip Hop erfolgreich kombinieren und längst zum Weltstar aufsteigen konnte. Die Symbiose von Tradition und Modernität katapultierten die Sängerin, die der Ethnie Xhosa angehört, zur weltweiten Bekanntheit.  Simphiwe Dana ist sich ihren Verpflichtungen für Familie und Mitmenschen bewusst und weiterhin voller beruflicher Ideen. Auf der Berlinale war sie die Hauptdarstellerin im Film „Themba“. Darüberhinaus entwirft sie ihre eigene Modekollektion; ganz im Sinne von African Design. „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ ist erfreut, auch diesen bemerkenswerten Superstar interviewt haben zu dürfen.

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2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ Simphiwe Dana, singer from South Africa. You are from the Transkaai. How did your childhood differ from your childrens childhood?

Anwer: My children’s upbringing is a world apart from mine. Growing up we didn’t have modern amenities like electricity, telephones, water taps. What we did have were, star lit night skies, sprawling forests and calm rivers, and gardens that we had to interact with from an early age. These were our playground and our source of survival. We told each other stories by candle and fire light. We ate from the same bowl and all slept together on the floor. My children are getting a privileged education, though it doesn’t do much for their sense of identity, it does a lot to equip them for the future.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You knew that you wanted to become a singer for a very long time. Why did you study two other courses first, before eventually becoming a well-known artist? Why did you not study music straight away after leaving school?

Anwer: I am the first born of a family of four siblings raised by a single parent on a nurse’s salary. I felt responsible for the progress of my family as per our culture. So I studied something that would bring me quick returns to support myself and my family.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You design your own clothes and write the songs yourself. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Anwer: I draw my inspiration from the human condition, starting with my own, across lifetimes.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You acted in the movie “Themba”, which describes the life of a young talented boy, caught in a vicious circle of HIV/AIDS, abuse, loneliness, etc. How “realistic” is that story in contemporary South Africa?

Anwer: Sadly this story is very realistic, though it is not as prevalent as women and girl child abuse.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How did you like acting? What is the difference in acting and singing when it comes to expressing yourself?

Anwer: Acting is as emotionally draining as when I write songs alone in my studio, the difference is that with acting you’re doing it infront of other people. I wouldn’t compare acting with singing, only with song writing.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are there any political messages in your songs? Or do you just live your culture and personality while singing?

Anwer: I sing about the human condition, my main concern is this. Unfortunately politics affect people and so I may seem political because of this but I’m not.

Simphiwe Dana with her song „Nderedi“

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You have been many times in Germany. What does it mean for you to perform in Germany and before German audience?

Anwer: I’m very appreciative of the German audience. They embraced me and made me popular in Europe. Their attentiveness during my performances have helped grow so much in the spirituality of my musicality.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Simphiwe Dana, musician from South Africa, thank you very much for this interesting interview and for your career all the best!

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