It is only April, but it’s safe to say that 2019 is already set to be a definitive year for female African artists speaking up. Our women in entertainment are finding their voices outside of the recording studio, as they challenge inequalities in their industry and in their personal lives.
Eastern Cape native Zahara is the latest star to find her voice, as she revealed that she is currently in the process of filing a lawsuit against her former record label, TS Records. Zahara was signed to TS Records at the start of her career, a time where she experienced explosive growth and instant stardom with her debut album Loliwe.
Zahara alleges that she has not been paid her dues in royalties, estimated to be between 10 – 30 million South African Rands, by the label since 2011 despite selling over half a million copies of her debut album. She is determined, “I want my money back, all of it. Many artists suffer in silence, suffer depression and ultimately die paupers. I won’t be a statistic. I will speak out”, she said.
When contacted for comment, TS Records exec TK Nciza responded that the allegations are false, “Now that things are going bad she (Zahara) wants to make an excuse and point fingers”.
African female artists across the continent are abandoning the culture of suffering in silence. In the first quarter of the year South African gqom star Babes Wodumo broke the Internet when she went live on Instagram while her record label exec boyfriend physically assaulted her, as a way to share her horrific experience.
This was followed by Nigerian songstress Waje also going online to open up about the financial struggles she is facing in her career, especially with the added pressure of being the breadwinner in her household. Her confession came on the back of releasing an album which did not perform as well as she had expected.
Not long after that, Nigerian artist Kiss Daniel started the viral “#FYouChallenge” that encouraged people to download the instrumental to his song, and record their own lyrics as a way to pass a message to people who they feel have wronged them. This trend inspired Kenya’s Victoria Kimani to voice her sentiments that favoritism was replacing merit where careers of female artists are concerned.
In her lyrics she directly accused Nigerian Tiwa Savage of being the main culprit. According to Kimani, Tiwa Savage demands that other female artists be removed from the concert lineups where she is set to perform.
Pop princess Seyi Shay shared various comments and posts on social media echoing Kimani’s sentiments.
While the issues being raised by female artists have left many asking questions about the real state of the music industry behind the glamour, they have also encouraged discourse amongst young women across the continent about key issues that they are all confronted with daily.
There is a clear movement waking on the continent, even though it doesn’t have a hashtag.