Embracing Africa

Embracing Africa

If you’ve never heard of Zanzi Africa you are in for a treat. She’s been compared to Mango Groove’s Claire Johnston and she has her roots right here in the capital.

For the past 10 years, the bubbly blonde from Faerie Glen calls the capital city her home. However, before you assume that she’s just another pretty face – you should hear her sing! And no, she’s not just your average singer – she can sing in more than five languages.

As her music career took off, her real name, Zandré Lopes quickly made way for Zanzi Africa.

“I realised that people struggled to pronounce my name and my friends used to call me names like Zandile or Zanzi. Zanzi has always been my favourite and because I’m embracing Africa with my music, I decided to go with Zanzi Africa,” she explains.

Zanzi has been singing as long as she can remember.

“My parents used to take me to a lot of theatre productions, so I always wanted to be on stage. Now that I’m older, I have an even bigger urge to make a difference in our country through music rather than being a ‘famous’ singer,” she says.

After completing school, she worked as a waitress to save up and record her first album. She mostly sang Afrikaans and country music and received a Ghoema nomination for her country album.

“I sang in pubs for a very long time and it did not really feel that I was going anywhere. I started singing the Brenda Fassie hit “Vulindlela” at my shows and the response was amazing. Thereafter, my domestic worker Dinah helped me to put a few songs together and even write a few original songs,” Zanzi explains.

Having studied Xhosa at school helped her understand and perform some of the songs and she recently started to study Tswana. She also sings in Shona, Sotho and Zulu, saying that these are all the languages Dinah can speak.

“She helped me write and translate songs and also went with me to all my recordings. But I don’t want to limit myself, so hopefully with my next album I will meet a few people who speak some of our other awesome languages,” the beautiful songstress says.

“The African market is a joy to work with and when it comes to music, they are the best crowd. Everyone is always dancing, singing and just having a good time. Music is a universal language that everyone understands and for the first time I feel that I am making a difference through my music. No matter what race or religion, music just brings everyone together,” Zanzi adds.

Her latest album, Embracing Africa, is, just like the name suggests, truly embracing all things Africa. Zanzi, together with her drummer Vic Thamsanqa, try and incorporate it into every show, even in their traditional wear.

“The album has a few popular songs on it that helped my country crowd with the crossover to the new music. Songs like “Vulindlela”, “Pata Pata”, “The Click Song”, “Meadowlands” and “Hamba Nawe“ are some of the songs on the album that people will recognise. The album also includes two traditional children’s rhyme songs and a few originals,” Zanzi says.

She writes most of her own music and says she gets her inspiration from things happening in her life at the moment.

“I write about things people need to think about and things that will inspire others to be the change they want to see in the world,” she says.

About her resemblance to Claire Johnston, Zanzi is thrilled, yet modest. “I’ve sang with them once and they are amazing! I would love to have so many hits one day!” she says.

But it’s not all work for Zanzi and she’s involved with numerous charity organisations.

“I’m an ambassador for the African Effect and part of the local charity, Caring Daisies. I love working with children, because I always feel that they did not ask to be in this world so they don’t deserve to feel hunger and pain.

“At this moment, we are busy planning a family day the end of July, when we want to collect canned food, blankets and robes for the children’s cancer unit with CANSA TLC and Hope4Ruben!” Zanzi says.

And, in celebration of Madiba Day, we couldn’t help but ask her favourite Madiba saying.

“There are so many, but I think the one that stands out and fits with my motto in life is: ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite’.”

Favourite local hangout…
Thirst@28 Degrees for their weekly steak special
Favourite beauty salon in Pretoria…
Mediskin and Laser Clinic in Garsfontein
Favourite nail bar…
Illumin Essence in Die Wilgers
Daily beauty secret…
I don’t smoke and I try to never let my face get sunburned!
Biggest lesson learnt in the industry…
Be careful who you tell your secrets to and don’t let jealous people keep you from following your dreams.



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