Thandizwa Mazwai on motherhood and the importance of building a community

Thandiswa Mazwai,right, with her daughter, Malaika Mazwai. Picture: Instagram.

Thandiswa Mazwai,right, with her daughter, Malaika Mazwai. Picture: Instagram.

Published May 10, 2024


With Mother’s Day being commemorated on Sunday, March 12, it is an opportunity to show some love and appreciation to the leading lady in your life.

Beautiful as it is, motherhood can be a challenging journey, especially if you have no one to guide you. Many are fortunate enough to have mother to guide them through life, but this is not the case for renowned local musician Thandiswa Mazwai, whose mother died when she was a teenager.

The musician, who dropped her fourth studio album, “Sankofa” on Friday, May 10, explained to Independent Media Lifestyle that she longed to have a mother in her life when she had her first child.

“I remember when I was 23 and pregnant. I went to my aunt crying and asked her: ‘What should I do?' And she said: ‘You’ve been praying for this. You’ve been praying for someone to spend Christmas with you, birthdays with you, holidays, someone to be yours, and here it is.’  Motherhood has taught me the capacity to love, that I can guide and teach. It’s such a magical experience,” she said.

And while she yearns to share her journey of motherhood with her mom, Mazwai is grateful for the opportunity to be a mother and watch her daughter blossom as she showers her with unconditional love.

Legendary South African musician Thandiswa Mazwai. Picture: Supplied.

“Motherhood is such a powerful experience because you have to guide somebody through their life. And most of the time, you don’t know what you’re doing, especially when you don’t have a mother. You don’t have a guide, but you are guiding. We have other ways to be guided, but it’s amazing when you have a mother because the guidance also comes with affirmation and positive things.

“It’s been really interesting for me to learn how much love is possible. To love someone to that extent and for them to love you like that. It’s beautiful because it's a partnership,” she said.

For a busy woman who had to build a career and raise a child, Mazwai couldn’t do it all by herself. She had to find a community of women who were willing to help her.

“As a parent, you can never do it perfectly, you can only do your best. What I think helped me a lot was that I made a decision that I wanted to be a mother, a good mother, a present mother. I was 24 and my aunt could’ve taken the child to raise for me, but I felt like I didn’t want my child to grow up with the trauma of not being raised by their mother.

“I was like, let me try and avoid those things. The thing that helped me the most was that I asked my uncle to please get someone from Transkei to come and help me and, I give all that credit to Sis Nomakwezi. She came into our lives when Malaika was three and is still there today.”

The singer added that her aunts also play huge role in Malaika life and serve as her grandmothers.

Mazwai said that they would look after her on the weekends and they helped her raise her daughter when she was going through her tumultuous teenage years.

“Sis Nomakwezi was also instrumental in ensuring that IsiXhosa was the dominant language at home.”

On balancing her career and motherhood, Mazwai said it was all about having people whom she could trust with her child while she was away. However, sometimes, she would cut her tours short because her child needed her.

“It’s about creating a community around yourself, of people that you love and love you back, that you support and support you back so that that community can help you raise a child. They always say that it takes a village, so I built a small community, and they are still there today. My friends are there for me and Malaika when we need them. And my partner has been so amazing, and I’m super grateful,” she said.