Poet / Rapper
Maya Wegerif has two career streams on the go, one as a performance poet and the other as a rapper.
Both involve the spoken word in English and in her native Xitsonga, making her a rarity on the music scene. As a rapper and hip-hop artist she goes by the stage name Sho Madjozi. She has collaborated with other artists, but is now working on her own singles and appears regularly as a guest on radio and television shows. She has been cast as a radical student activist on Mzansi Magic’s youth telenovela Isithembiso and was selected by Nike SA for its Rebels on Air ad campaign.
This newer direction into rap began when she uploaded some videos of herself performing and received an unexpectedly favourable response.
As a poet she’s known as Maya The Poet, and she often speaks about the sly or overt racism black people experience on a daily basis, such as in her poems Sometimes It Pours and Black and White (They Call Me).
Speaking about Sometimes It Pours, she says: “Sometimes I am haunted by situations in my life where I think I should have or could have acted better — reacted sooner — and this one night I was kept awake by the incident that happened after I was arrested by racist cops in the States. I was in court but didn’t stand up for myself in the way I would have wanted to. I was writing the poem in my head just weeping about all these experiences.
“If I don’t react at all to small acts of daily racism I experience, but even if I react with sass or anger, I am still never really sitting down and taking a tally of the collective damage that it does to one’s psyche. That night or early morning was that for me. And I didn’t stop crying until I had the whole poem.”
She was in the US as a college student, and that experience made her feel more African and saw her return more mature and ready to be herself and to embrace all that she is. As part of that, she is determined to fight the marginalisation of her people by promoting the Tsonga language and culture.
— Lesley Stones