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Thandiswa Mazwai: Tiny Desk x globalFEST 2024

In 2021, the Tiny Desk x globalFEST series was created to promote international music discovery. For the last three years, artists from around the globe have performed Tiny Desk (home) concerts from their respective countries, but for the first time this year, artists performed at the Tiny Desk at NPR's headquarters.

Thandiswa Mazwai is one of post-apartheid South Africa's most influential musicians. For nearly 30 years, she has championed a kind of dance music called Kwaito. The South African genre mixes a variety of rhythms and influences, including hip-hop, reggae, jazz and house music.

This phenomenal set starts with "Nizalwa Ngobani?", translated from the Xhosa language to "Do you know where you come from?" It's dedicated to the ever-resilient people of South Africa. "I want to say to my people at home, thank you," she says. "I am known worldwide because of you." After, she sings a love song, "Ingoma," with the memorable hook "Ngoma we, ngoma we, ngoma we," which loosely translates to "You are a song that I never get tired of."

She dedicates the next song, "Children of the Soil," to all the people around the world who find themselves struggling for freedom. "This is our time to use our voices," she affirms. "This is the time for us to fight for freedom, wherever it is in the world." "Children of the Soil" will be featured on her soon-to-be-released new album, Sankofa. And she finishes this set with the powerful "Abenguni" and the catchy upbeat tune "Lahl'umlenze," with its resilient hook: "Why does it matter how I dance?"


  • "Nizalwa Ngobani?"
  • "Ingoma"
  • "Children of the Soil"
  • "Abenguni"
  • "Lahl'umlenze"


  • Thandiswa Mazwai: lead vocals
  • Lungile (Lulu) Maduna: drums, vocals 
  • Sunnyboy Mthimunye: guitar
  • Tendai Ali Shoko (Shox): bass
  • Thabang Tabane: percussion
  • Xolani Thabethe: keys, vocals


  • Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault
  • Host/Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Elizabeth Gillis
  • Audio Engineer: Becky Brown
  • Production Assistant: Elle Mannion
  • Photographer: Zayrha Rodriguez
  • Creative Designer: Jackie Lay
  • Tiny Desk Team: Ashley Pointer, Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • globalFEST Team: Isabel Soffer, Bill Bragin, Shanta Thake, Zion Jackson, Ian Thake
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Suraya Mohamed
Suraya Mohamed is a three-time Peabody Award-winning producer, sound designer and editor. She currently serves as the project manager for Jazz Night In America and is a contributing producer on the Alt.Latino podcast. She also produces NPR's holiday specials package, including Tinsel Tales, Hanukkah Lights, Toast Of The Nation, Pink Martini's Joy To The World: A Holiday Spectacular and most recently Hamilton: A Story Of US. You'll also find her work on the Tiny Desk series as either a producer or engineer.

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