Port Elizabeth artists are among the dozen South Africans featured in Beyoncé’s newly released Black is King visual album.
KwaMagxaki singer Moonchild Sanelly and New Brighton actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi said appearing on Beyoncé’s project had cemented for them that nothing was unattainable.
They said they hoped the project, which celebrates African culture, would inspire other South Africans to chase their wildest dreams.
Black is King is a visual companion to Beyoncé’s album The Lion King: The Gift, a soundtrack to the 2019 remake of the original film.
The visual album premiered on Disney Plus on Friday and on M-Net for African viewers on Saturday.
The project has been received with critical acclaim across Africa, with some hailing it as an important message, especially amid global protests against white supremacy, while others have said Beyoncé is exploiting African culture.
The film celebrates black ancestry and the richness of the African culture by showcasing different cultural aesthetics from across the continent with lyrical content that essentially hails the power of blackness.
Beyoncé appears alongside a string of SA and African artists on the album.
Ben-Mazwi, who actively advocates and celebrates dark-skinned women, said being handpicked to be a part of the project was a victory for herself as an artist and her quest to affirm dark-skinned women about their worth.
The actress said the opportunity was proof that nothing could stand in your way.
“This for me is a trajectory shift in how we as black people see ourselves and how the world sees us.
“This is finally an opportunity for us to tell our authentic stories, stories [that resonate with] me as uMankomo — a Xhosa woman from Port Elizabeth,” Ben-Mazwi said.
She said she was proud to have been part of a global celebration of Africa’s richness and the beauty of being African.
“I am in awe of who we are as SA artists and it’s high time that the world sees us, celebrates us and sees our magic,” she said.
The actress, who kicked off her career in the US and returned to take on more diverse roles in SA, has been among the loudest voices in the industry uplifting dark-skinned women.
After being inundated with messages from young dark-skinned women who said seeing her on TV had validated and inspired them, the actress started a series of motivational talks and workshops called She Speaks by Lady Nam.
One of her most recent workshops was in Port Elizabeth in February.
“The response that I have already received from young girls thanking me for being unapologetically dark-skinned on a global stage is amazing.
“Having Beyoncé afford us the opportunity and produce such an incredible story celebrating us means that every [African] girl will be able to see herself in us,” she said.
With Beyoncé considered a leading global icon in music by many, Sanelly, real name Sanelisiwe Twisha, said this was a reminder for all Africans that the world was their oyster.
She said the key to attaining one’s dreams was originality.
“This is one of those things that remind every black child that your dreams are valid, no matter where you come from, as long as you believe in yourself.
“The biggest thing to know is that it’s all in your hands and you have to be yourself [to stand out]. Let the world adjust to who you are so that you never have to wonder what people want,” she said.
The singer made SA proud when she was featured alongside Busiswa Gqulu on My Power, a single from Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift album in 2019.
The duo was again most talked about at the weekend as South Africans celebrated them after the premiere of the visual album.
“It feels really good to be celebrated at home, especially because most times [South Africans] who do well outside are people who are not necessarily celebrated at home.
“I’m really happy that [my success] still speaks to my people at home,” she said.
Other South Africans featured in Black is King include Gqulu, Nandi Madida, Connie Chiume, Warren Masemola, the late Mary Twala and John Kani.
By Zamandulo Malonde – HeraldLIVE