The Sunday News
LADY Tshawe, one of Bulawayo’s best kept arts secret, is a multi-talented young artiste whose résumé boasts collaborations with prolific artistes such as Tariro neGitare, Prudence Katomani-Mbofana, Albert Nyathi and many other seasoned artistes.
Born Nomashawekazi Michelle Sangiweyinkosi Damasane, the 25-year starlet shows no sign of slowing down.
Her name “Nomashawekazi” means “mother of princesses” while Sangiweyinkosi means “blessed by the king.”
She started her artistic journey long before she learnt how to play a musical instrument.
“I was born in an artistic family, my father is a singer and I am a poet and writer as well. My aunts and uncles sing as well. So pretty much I was raised on the backbone of arts,” said the bubbly poet.
She learnt how to play the mbira, marimba and piano at SOS Herman Germaine Primary School, where she was also a member of the drama club. Lady Tshawe as she prefers to go by — continued with her passion for arts throughout her years in high school, before enrolling at Rhodes University in South Africa where she studied journalism.
“I wanted to continue being involved in arts after high school so I decided to do journalism and be a visual arts critic,” she said.
After a brief stint as a journalist, she realised that watching other people perform was not enough for her, as she felt her talent was being stifled.
She changed her major at the university from Journalism to Drama and Ethnomusicology.
After that, everything else just seemed to fall in place. While she was in South Africa, she participated in plays that were nationally acclaimed and shared the stage with a number of South African soapie actors at the 2012 National Arts festival in South Africa.
With the help of Siyaya Arts director, Saimon Mambazo Phiri, Lady Tshawe managed to break into the Zimbabwean arts industry, developing contacts for her poetic career, before venturing into other sectors of the industry.
“I play the mbira, piano, marimba and the Shantu; which is a Nigerian instrument. I also sing in SiNdebele, Shona, Xhosa, Zulu and French. I learnt Mandarin at school but unfortunately I can’t sing in the language. I love all my instruments, but I’d say my favourites are mbira and piano,” she said.
She is currently working on a single on her poetry.
“I want people to listen to my poetry and not just come and watch me doing poetry on stage. I want them to actually listen to it and have a different experience through listening to it on audio,” said Lady Tshawe.
“We have finished recording it and we are waiting for it to get edited and mastered. I feel like this is right up in my alley and I enjoy diffusing music and poetry more than anything else.
“It’s exciting to try new avenues of putting myself out there and I have already written a book and so I might as well take it up a notch higher and record,” she added.
Lady Tshawe has two books under her belt and is currently working on a third.
The highlights of her career were in 2012, where she performed on the main stage at Grahamstown at the National Arts Festival in South Africa, the 2014 Youth Games, where she performed in front of President Mugabe and the rest of Africa as well as her participation in this year’s Zambezi Express.
“Being part of the Zambezi Express was really special to me because I have been watching it since 2009 when I worked backstage and I was excited because I got a chance to be part of it,” she said.
Lady Tshawe went on to explain why she preferred to go by that name, stating that she didn’t want people to associate her with her father but rather see her for who she was as an individual.
“I sometimes feel like I live under his shadow, but at the same time the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, so I have to embrace the connection that we have without people just seeing me as Damasane’s daughter,” she says.
Lady Tshawe is the first of Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane’s two children, with her younger sister also displaying the artistic traits that run in the Damasane blood.
“My young sister is artistic and she sings well. She actually dances better than me but her focus is on drawing sketches. She is currently studying law so you can see where her interest lies,” said a proud Lady Tshawe.
Her inspiration comes in different ways and is drawn from different life experiences. Her two favourite poems are A Letter To Myself and Ten Things I Want To Say To You Future Husband.
“These poems are very close to my heart and as a young woman I am in tune with my emotions. A Letter To Myself is about the advice I give myself when I feel low. We are humans and we all go through hard times so every time I read that poem it encourages me to pick myself up. It’s basically about Noma telling Noma to be strong.
“Ten Things I Want To Say To You Future Husband is a letter to my future husband wherever he is. It is a reminder to myself as a young lady that I set standards for myself and to never forget them,” said Lady Tshawe.
Lady Tshawe shared the stage with many artistes but she says her most memorable collaborations were with Tariro neGitare and Jazz Invitation.
When she is taking a break from inspiring the world with her poems, drama and music; Lady Tshawe makes jewellery and loves watching criminal series.
She hopes to have a world tour in the future, but for now she is focused on taking one step at a time on her journey to win the hearts and minds of the audience with her amazing talents.