Shimza on Robben Island

How Shimza Became the First DJ to Play on Robben Island

Aug 17, 2022

Lauryn Njeri

3 min read

South Africa’s award winning DJ Shimza, had the honor of becoming the first ever artist to play a live stream music set from the prison Robben Island where political activists and former presidents Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe, and Jacob Zuma served time behind bars. Located in Table Bay off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, the historic prison now serves as a tourist museum and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Shimza, known for his polished productions and contagious Afro tech sound, has established himself as a key player in the international dance music scene. He has been holding his One Man Show events for over ten years as a committed philanthropist, raising money for South African issues that are dear to his heart and disadvantaged children. The most recent development of this was the legendary broadcast performance on Robben Island.

Shimza and the Siya Kolisi Foundation partnered to raise funds for those negatively affected by Covid-19 as well as Robben Island. Shimza played his set at the Island from 4-6pm on Saturday July, 18th. It was broadcast live on MTV Base South Africa.

On why he has decided to stage such an iconic event at Robben Island, a historical site, and his contribution to Mandela Day, Shimza said, “It’s up to all of us in South Africa to shape how our history is being told.” He added that “We need to tell our story using our gifts. Those that we can freely demonstrate and live off now, because of the struggles of people like the great Nelson Mandela.”

Mandela served 17 years of his sentence on Robben Island. After his release in 1990, he went on to be elected President of South Africa and proceeded to unite and help heal the nation. July 18 - Mandela Day - marks Mandela’s birthday as well as a celebration of the sacrifices and achievements of one of the most inspirational and influential leaders of the modern age.

With his first fight for the human rights of every South African beginning in 1942, Nelson Mandela spent the first 67 years of his life leaving his imprint on the world. Citizens are urged to dedicate 67 minutes of their time—one minute for each year that Mandela served the public—in celebration of his life as an inspiration and as a first step toward a worldwide movement for good. People have responded positively to this call over the years, as public figures from all around the world have joined in to impact the lives of others in their own special way.

Song, dance, and music contributed tremendously to South Africa’s struggle and political history as it was used as a tool on global stages to fight against the apartheid regime. This was therefore the best way to celebrate Mandela Day, through music brought by a proud young South African DJ.

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