A.W.A (African Women Arise)

One on One with A.W.A.

Awakhiwe Sibanda who is known on stage as A.W.A (African Women Arise) is a 23-year-old female emcee and a vocalist from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

A.W.A. started rapping in 2012 and released her first single Wangishiya Lengane which is a Ndebele song about Teenage pregnancies. She released her second single ‘Ngoneni na?’ in 2014 which is also a Ndebele song about Gender-Based Violence. The talented female emcee is featured on the Makokoba Project Record which features artists from U.K and Zimbabwe where she collaborated with Mc Fallacy, a legend from U.K and Psykotek, a Zimbabwean emcee. The collaboration between Psykotek and A.W.A led to the birth of a Hip-Hop duo – African Militants.

She also collaborated with Symbiz from Germany.A.W.A has performed at local high profile international festivals like the Jibilika festival, Intwasa festival and the Shoko Festival where she performed representing the Makokoba Project. The female emcee has shared the stage with artists like Rodney P (U.K), Mc Fallacy (U.K), Hip Hop Pantsula(S.A) Cassper Nyovest (S.A), Symbiz(Germany), Blak Twang (U.K), among many others. She is currently working on her album ‘Voices Of Women’.

What is the inspiration behind your name?
My name A.W.A is the shortened form of my birth name Awakhiwe. A.W.A is also an acronym for African Women Arise. This was inspired by my colleague Mzoe 7 as most of my songs address issues that affect women e.g. gender-based violence, rape, prostitution and many more.

What inspires your work?
My work is inspired by real-life experiences. Sometimes my songs and poems reflect my personal experiences. I am also inspired by other people’s life experiences, their joys, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. My image is inspired by different women from all over Africa e.g. Chiwoniso Maraire, Brenda Fassie, Simphiwe Dana, Thandiswa Mazwai and many more.

You are a multi-talented individual, what do you like most-spoken word or music?
Thank you…I believe that hip hop and poetry are intertwined. Although I am widely known as a hip hop artist, I love both equally, but I usually use spoken word to address issues that are profound.

What is the most powerful advice that you have got so far?
The most powerful advice that I have got so far is from my colleagues. Psyko Tektonik advised me to be myself and never to change who I am to ‘fit in’ in the music industry and to believe in myself. Plot Mhako advised me to be humble always. Mzoe7 advised me to always put God first in everything I do. Terry Potter Rain advised me to be confident and Owen Maseko advised me to always stay true to my African roots.

What are the career highlights that you enjoyed?
2015 has been quite an amazing year for me. I have been performing at different festivals across the nation including the Jibilika Dance Festival 2015, Mashoko and the Shoko Festival 2015 (Harare and Chitungwidza). I was also a part of the Makokoba Project which is run by In Place Of War’s ‘Change the Record’. Artists from different countries joined forces to work on an album and to perform together at 3 cities (Bulawayo Harare and Chitungwidza). I collaborated with Symbiz, a crew from Germany and Mc Fallacy from U.K. I also worked with Psyko Tektonik (Zim), Black Twang (U.K), Silva Stone (U.K) and many other local and international artists. To wrap up this amazing year I recently got a Zimbabwe Hip Hop Awards nomination for ‘Best Underground Emcee’ which is an honor because in the category, I am the only female and the only artist from Bulawayo so once again I am honored to represent the city at the national level.