Busiswa on Barriers Facing Female Artists in Africa

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The music landscape in Africa is still male-dominated and competitive for female artists. Only a handful have been able to mark their footprints in the industry. Such artists include South African singer-songwriter and poet Busiswa Gqulu. The artist was in the country recently to promote her new reality TV series ‘Her Majesty: Busiswa’ showing on BET Africa.

In a chat, Busiswa lamented the pressure being placed on female artists in Africa.

“There’s still a lot of barriers to women becoming successful artists and I always use the example of how men will never know what it’s like to be pregnant and be in the public eye. That’s something that men will never experience and understand.”

The way the artist whose musical fame began in 2012 sees it, women are expected to bloom later in the music industry.

“You don’t see young females blowing up in the industry so quickly because females are not encouraged to be public figures or artists for a living. We know that our continent is struggling with poverty and females become concerned with feeding their families, rather than flourishing as individuals and creatives, which is what boys tend to be more encouraged to do,” she argued.

Other contributing factors include the perception that upcoming female artists have to be like established female acts.

“They realise later that they have to walk the journey as their authentic selves. As long as they are connecting with other people, that is fine. They don’t have to be like the iconic beautiful females out there. Being authentic is what is going to sell you and that is the beauty in every artist.”

‘Her Majesty: Busiswa’ hopes to convey that message to young girls with musical dreams on the continent. The 13-part local reality TV series premiered on BET Africa on Saturday, March 20 and serves as a visual companion to the musical journey of the 32-year-old musician. It is the second time the artist is giving fans a glimpse of her life. Her first documentary, ‘Busiswa: An Unbreakable Story’ focused on her upbringing. In ‘Her Majesty: Busiswa’, the artist takes the viewer on the intricacies that make up the artist she is today.

“It delves deeper into who I am and my future. How I see myself going global at a time the spotlight is on African music.”

For Busiswa, sharing her journey on a platform like BET Africa is a testament to the company’s commitment to investing in local talent and content.

“When channels like BET invest in talent and in content that is local, it is true to us. There are many girls like me in my country who grew up rural, in towns, and are 100 per cent thoroughbred South African. When these girls see me on this platform, they feel represented. Understanding that as a public figure, so much can be said, read or written about you, but when you tell your own story, that is the most powerful part of yourself that you can share with the world. And when you share that, then all the girls who see themselves in you can see themselves on such a big platform.”