Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

The woman using hip hop to highlight human rights issues in Zimbabwe

By Tinashe Sibanda | Nehanda Showbiz |

Zimbabwe’s 24 year old Hip Hop artiste Awakhiwe Sibanda aka AWA (African Women Arise) from the city of Bulawayo has taken strides to use her music to address human rights issues in the country.

Awakhiwe Sibanda aka AWA
Awakhiwe Sibanda aka AWA

AWA who is currently touring the UK for the first time has revealed how she wants her music to help people in Zimbabwe.

“I was arrested for being present at a #ThisFlag anti-government protest at Makokoba. It was a terrifying experience honestly especially after what happened to Journalist/Activist Itai Dzamara but luckily I was released the very same day,’ she exclusively told Nehanda Radio in a telephone interview.

She said the others who were also arrested with her had managed to walk out with scars and she was grateful to Zenzele Ndebele who had raised money to bail out the victims.

“We were just marching, and singing, and then the police came.”

AWA said police brutalism was worsening in Zimbabwe and it was really hard for her to address some issues especially if one stepped on a political lane.

“As musicians we are censored. We can’t address anti-government issues there are restrictions and it is dangerous.”

“I also face challenges of not having enough platforms to showcase my talent in Zimbabwe. I appreciate what we have so far but i would really like to see the day we have radio and TV stations in Bulawayo and other cities as well as hip hop festivals,” she added.

The passionate rapper,  AWA, said that Hip hop had given her a voice, and she wanted to use that voice to speak out about not only her personal struggles but the everyday struggles of people around her especially women because  she was also woman.

She said that Zimbabweans had been through a lot and she had chosen to address these issues through poetry and hip hop.

“I rap in Ndebele and i mix hip hop with traditional songs because i want people to learn more about my culture through my music and my costumes,” she said.

AWA added that she also raps about issues that affect women including herself in society and these included domestic violence, teenage pregnancies, rape, prostitution and many more.

AWA dresses in bright clashing prints and decorates her skin with white dots of toothpaste and said she had experienced domestic violence first-hand.

She told Nehanda Radio that she grew up in a number of townships in Bulawayo namely Nguboyenja, Makokoba and Pelandaba and is currently studying social work at the University of South Africa.

She is currently in the UK to perform as part of Voices of the Revolution, a collective of 15 female musicians from 10 countries including Egypt, Brazil and Venezuela.

Put together with just three days of rehearsal, their styles range from dancehall to folk and the group played their first UK festival, Shambala, at the weekend. Nehanda Radio