This House of Stone Will Rise – Kubatana gets to know musician Mae Sithole

Describe yourself in 5 words
Open to learn new things.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
I like to rest and reflect on my week on a Saturday morning before sharing breakfast with my hubby at a local spot.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is the temptation to focus on my insecurities and limitations, rather than the opportunities and gifts God has given me to share love and hope in my spheres of influence. The difference between Joshua and the other spies (I have to take it there), was their perspective. Joshua saw a land full of opportunities, the other spies saw giants and imminent danger. My prayer is to have the boldness, courage and resilience of Joshua because sometimes, our choices have a bearing on something much greater than ourselves. I want my choices to inspire hope and courage.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
On a work trip to Geneva in 2008, I opted to follow our group on my own to allow me the chance to buy a sim card (there was no WhatsApp those days!). The result: I walked for 3 hours in sub-zero temperatures trying to locate the restaurant, which was our rendezvous point. Let’s just say I was very cold, but I also discovered parts of the city I had not experienced before. It was the last time I left a group in a country I was not familiar with. Lesson learnt! Ha ha.

Favourite spot for a picnic in Zimbabwe?
I love Domboshawa, just outside Harare. The views are breathtaking and I feel so connected to Zimbabwe’s pulse when my family and I go there to hike.

We hear you enjoy singing and we love your music… Tell us a little bit about that. Is it your full time job? Do you write your own songs?
I have been actively involved in music since my teen years. Not sure if you might remember SuperStar; a reality talent show for singers in Zimbabwe. I was a teenager back then and made it to the Top 20. That was such a big opportunity for me. Since then, I have worked with Andrew Baird (Orangotang Records), recorded with a number of artists and released two albums (First Glance in 2015 and Visions in 2018). Alongside my music, I’m pursuing a PhD in Politics at the University of Cape Town. In my role as the Building Bridges Programme Officer at The Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, I design and deliver leadership development programmes and governance meetings throughout Africa. My heartbeat is the Emerging African Leaders Programme, which brings together 25-30 leaders from 10 African countries each year. Youth participation and women’s leadership are two issues I’m passionate about. We are about to launch our inaugural Leading in Public Life: Women, Power, Influence Programme in June 2019. Music has become a bridge for me to create greater awareness about current affairs, and to bring people from different political, ideological, economic, or religious divides, to a mutual space of humanity, curiosity, and openness.

How can people listen to your music?
My music is available on all online music platforms including Spotify, Deezer, iTunes, Amazon amongst others. If we are in the same city, a live performance is always a great way to meet people!

We loved your song “House of Stone” can you tell us why you wrote it and what you feel when you sing it?
I wrote this song just before former President Robert Mugabe stepped down in Zimbabwe. The name Zimbabwe, when translated in Shona, means “House of Stone.” I wrote the song to express the sense of hope amongst Zimbabweans at the time, and the hope for something greater that we could achieve together. At the moment, I sing the song from a place of grief with a glimmer of hope for the future. The recent Cyclone Idai and political violence broke my heart. My spirit, and I think the spirit of many Zimbabweans, is broken at this time. We have been through a lot and I think all we really want back is our dignity, and the assurance of a future that is inclusive, just and peaceful. This storm that we are submerged in has to end. In the words of my song, “This House of Stone Will Rise.”

What would be your dream concert venue to perform at?
Wow, I’m very grateful for the opportunities afforded to our band to perform at the Harare International Festival of the Arts, La Fete de Musique in Geneva, and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa – to name a few. Next on my list is the Victoria Falls Carnival! I would cherish the opportunity to take the stage there.

Anything else we should know? (incl concert dates in Zim!)
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