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IPED Student Wins South African Music Award


A student in Fordham’s graduate program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) won a 2011 South African Music Award for her newly released album, Nomisupasta.

Nomsa Mazwai, a South African Fulbright scholar in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Fordham, won the category “Best Alternative Music Album: African” at the awards ceremony on May 20 and 21 in Johannesburg.

Mazwai finished Nomisupasta shortly before moving to New York to begin the IPED program. She also was nominated in the categories “Best Album Packaging” and “Best Newcomer.”

The South African Music Awards are given by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) and are the equivalent of the Grammy Awards in the United States.

“When I went home to get the award, it was amazing. I really haven’t come down from my high,” she said. “I was really surprised, excited and honored to be on a list with such great South African musicians.”

Nomisupasta was a self-financed and self-produced project that Mazwai worked on while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. The album took about six years to complete, she said.

Although she now devotes the bulk of her energy toward her studies, she sees her roles as professional musician and economist as complimentary. The songs that get the most radio play back home are—perhaps unsurprisingly—love songs, but she also finds inspiration in international politics.

“I want to go back to South Africa and work on building an economy that is responsive to the communities and the material condition on the ground,” she said. “Music is a tool I can use. I’m a young person, I want young people to join me. I feel like there is a need for public participation, and my music entices young people to engage me on these issues,” she said.

“But at the end of the day, I’m more interested in policy. The economy of South Africa is a strong economy, and a few tweaks here and there will make it really responsive to how people are living and create something that is sustainable,” she said.

“Every country in the world has reached a point where it needs to rethink its economy and how it responds to the people. That’s also why I decided to come to Fordham—and to America—at this particular point. With the financial crisis, I felt like the discussion and debates in my classes would touch on that.”

To hear tracks from Nomisupasta, visit

Mazwai will be performing on Sunday, July 10, at Madiba Restaurant, 195 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn. (718) 855-9190


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