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Four Factor: Amandla Sisters!

2007-08-30 10:55
This week's four factors rated out of 10 are:

X-factor: Sexy, beautiful and Xhosa. But can they sustain without shaking what mama Africa gave them for audiences to take a look and listen?
Afro-factor: They don’t do weaves! They may be keeping it real, with dreadlocks, afro’s, cornrows or simply short hair, but is what you see what you get or is it pandering to a nouveau afro-chic look?
Mama-Africa factor: Are they true African Mamas with ubuntu or faux Amandla sissies with quasi-diva attitudes?
Badu factor: They are a part of the anti-bling movement. They wear heavy head wraps and long skirts. But do they have to be irie to reach those high notes?

The Amandla sisters candidates are:

Thandiswa Mazwai

X-Factor: She completed the all male Bongo Maffin group with her voluptuous and curvaceous self. Not once did her fellow male members use her as a booty-hopping queen to push records. Thandiswa always embraces her Xhosa roots, has stories to tell and sings from the heart. 8

Afro-factor: This sister has done it all and not once have we seen her having a bad hair day. From ichiskop to an Afro, to the Venus Williams beads vibe, beautiful thick locks and a cropped look, Ms Mazwai represents wherever she goes and is a trendsetter. When she sings you know that she’s the genuine Afro-pop article, as she proved with her smash hit solo album, Zabalaza. Most of her tunes are in her mother tongue and she brought sexy back in the whole dot your face look, completing it with traditional Xhosa gear. 10
Mama–Africa factor: Thandiswa is a mother of one which seems to have softened her party girl reputation a bit. On songs like “Nizalwa Ngobani” she shows she’s a nurturer and ‘mother of the nation’. Still, she’s known for her disappearing acts at major concerts and occasionally not pitching up for interviews. Being blasé is not a sign of ubuntu, sista! 3
Badu Factor: You’ll never see Thandiswa in a mini, tight pants or blinding bling-bling. She leaves plenty to the imagination. She loves all that’s natural… including irie herbs. 8

Simphiwe Dana

X-factor: Simphiwe is a natural African beauty. She may not be blessed with a bootylicious ATM (African Trademark) but she makes up for it with her raw and rare vocals. She hardly moves and never gyrates on stage, yet she always manages to move the crowd with her lyrics and haunting melodies. And if you’re after the real X-factor, then hey, she swept it up at this year’s SAMAs. 9
Afro-factor: Ms Dana doesn’t fry or process her hair. She might as well wear a fist badge seeing that she’s always preaching about black consciousness. She’s so hardcore about it that her second album is in memory of the father of black consciousness; Steve Biko aptly titled The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street. Amandla to that! 10
Mama–Africa factor: Ms Dana is a mother of two children. She’s soft-spoken but firm, loving and nurturing. She carries herself like a regal African queen. Her first album Zandisile is named after her first-born daughter. She’s always talking about one love, raising a tribe and respecting each other. And this sister walks the talk. Now that’s ubuntu! 9
Badu Factor: Many people call Simphiwe our African Erykah Badu because of the way she sings, the fashionably eccentric head wrap and the very long-skirts. Even with the comparisons to the US neo-soul singer though, there’s no doubt Simphiwe is an AFRICAN as she sings in her mother tongue. She knows where she’s from and can ululate and name her entire culture clan. It’s hard to gauge if Ms Dana loves flying high but if her hit “Ndiredi, ukundiza” (I’m ready to fly high) is anything to go by…7
Zolani Mahola

X-factor: This Freshlyground lead singer is also Xhosa. She’s super confident and carries all mama-Africa gave her with pride and sass. Fans can never get enough of this dynamite voice in a small bootylicious package who sways her hips and does the “doo-be-doo” at the same time. 9
Afro-factor: Ms Mahola likes to keep it short and sweet. No messing and stressing with Mother Nature’s blessings for this sister! In a very big, multi-racial and eclectic band Zolani holds her own as a proudly African woman. Her bewitching voice belies her years and it’s no wonder she’s the lead vocalist of one of the most successful Afro-pop phenomena in Mzansi today. 9
Mama–Africa factor: Zolani isn’t a baby-mama but you don’t need to be a mother to have ubuntu. She’s always smiling, polite and down to mother earth. Fans always want a piece of her after a performance and she’ll even join, mingle and dance with them after a show. She’s been spotted a couple of times at a local mall doing grocery shopping and talking to some tannies and laaities. Everyone, black or white, young or old love Zolani. If that’s not ubuntu then angazi! 10
Badu Factor: Zolani is known to don a head-wrap to complement her long printed skirts and African beads. But she’s also known to show some skin by baring her mid-riff and doing a bit of a belly dance for the masses. Eish! Sista, that belly probably needs to be covered but when you’re feeling irie it does sometimes get way too hot. 8

Siphokazi Maraqana

X-factor Baby-faced Siphokazi is the new kid on the African songbird block. Nominated in five categories at the 2007 SAMA awards, she walked away with the Best Newcomer award. So, yes, she’s most definitely got game, sisters watch out! 8
Afro-factor: Siphokazi loves her cornrow plaits and is a true African princess from head to toe. Still, sometimes it seems like she goes on about her afro-centric self a bit too much though. Is she trying too hard to be the next Simphiwe or just trying to keep it real? 4
Mama–Africa factor: It’s still early days but so far so good. As the title of her debut CD, Ubuntu bam (My humanity) proves, Siphokazi loves God and respects her elders. Amen to that! 8
Badu Factor: At this year’s SAMA awards, the infamous tabloid columnist Gwen Gill praised Siphokazi for being the best dressed diva in her Sun Goddess gown. We’ll give Siphokazi three more years in the industry to see if she can do without feeling irie. 5

Scores (out of 40 points)
Thandiswa- 29
Simphiwe- 35
Zolani- 36
Siphokazi- 25 (askies sis’wam)

And the winner is…
Nomvula! Ag Zolani. Congratulations sister! We hope you’ll always stay fresh and your feet will always be planted firmly on the ground.

-Gugu Mkhabela

Pics from Images24:Thabo Moloto, Deaan Vivier, Sipho Maluka
These all natural sistas are young, gifted and proud. They’re doing it for themselves with no silicone. Okay, so these proudly African songbirds look ethnic to the core but are they just as authentic?
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