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Instalife: Nomisupasta's New Song Featuring Thandiswa Mazwai Uses Social Commentary To Address Fake Social Media Lives

Living in a digital village has normalised a certain idea of success that is rooted in consumerism and perfection, as we often see a perfect portrayal of different people's perceived lifestyles from all walks of life on social media platforms such as instagram; some which may be powered by the "fake it till you make it" narrative. Despite this unfortunate reality and the mental health issues it has caused, some people still lack the spirit of discernment to understand that what's shared on instagram may be a small fraction of people's real life, and instead use what they see on social media as a yardstick for a "successful/perfect life". 

Versatile creative, Nomisupasta, whose music is mostly centred around socio-economic issues, recently released her latest song titled 'Instalife', featuring the legendary Thandiswa Mazwai.  In the song, Nomisupasta says "They want that Instalife, they want that easy come, so they can socialise, so they can feel like they matter...." And these words of the late legendary Hugh Masekela at the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 ring true: "The people who support and buy our music are the poor of the African world. Their lives are one endless hell because the majority of our administrative leaders treat them no better than the colonials did, if not, worse. They are kept ignorant and need your voices raised on their behalf. We have to include their sufferings in our recordings, because we cannot keep asking them to only romance and dance. It's not enough anymore." Hence, 'Instalife' is music expressed as social commentary. 

How the song came about: During the July protests in South Africa, where some were people looting various things like food and other basic needs, while others looted flat screens, electrical appliances among other products, Nomisupasta spoke to a man in her neighbourhood in Soweto, who had a flat screen and he said to her "They're also taking, I also want that flat screen TV, why can't I have a flat screen?" This became one of the inspirations behind the song, and highlights how we want to have what others have. We want fast things, whether we've worked for them or not. That instant gratification that comes with a lifestyle portrayed on instagram at any cost. 

As a build up to her release, the artist hosted a twitter space in collaboration with Politics & International Relations Professor Dr. Sithembile Mbete about the power of music in educating the nation. During the space, some integral issues in the form of the following interesting points were raised: 

  • In current times, to live well has been associated with to consume
  • Character and integrity are key
  • People consume their way into/to a "good life" but what is a "good life"?
  • After 1994: SA didn't have a conversation about what is a "good life"
  • The good life for White South Africans was always gonna be infinitely better than Black South Africans
  • What would a good life be besides consumption?
  • What would a good life be? It should be valuing people, getting back to humanity instead of valuing money over people.
  • Reinvesting in the arts as a modernity for consciousitising people
  • Accountability is an everyday thing
  • Create a culture of celebrating the right things
I concur with all the above mentioned points, but my absolute key takeaway was the definition of a good life being valuing people, getting back to humanity instead of valuing money over people, which I totally agree with. We need to see each other's humanity and being cognisant of each other as human beings will propel us into thriving in all other aspects of life; just be humane! I truly believe kindness and Ubuntu should be the core of how we navigate life and the results will spill into other areas of our lives, be it socially, economically or politically.   

Instalife is available here and for more on Nomisupasta's art, click here
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