I AM fest about celebrating the beauty and diversity of people

“I AM Fest further celebrates the beauty and the diversity of people, respecting and acknowledging each individual’s identity as well as how they choose to express themselves,”said Leeu about the upcoming event.

FILE: Gina Mabasa will be headling the I AM fest on Saturday, 6 August 2022. Picture: 6BandEvents/Instagram.

JOHANNESBURG – Women’s Month is a time in which we commemorate iconic South African women that fought in the struggle against apartheid, it’s also a time when we empower, honour and celebrate the beauty and strength of South African women.

“It’s a time when we honour the women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and equality of women across South Africa. It is also a time where we celebrate the powerful women in our lives; our mothers, sisters, partners, friends; those who protect us and guide us throughout our journeys. 6 Bands Events is inviting you to the 3rd annual I Am Fest (celebrating women), a women’s day celebration and celebrating who you are,” said 6 Bands Events founder Tshepi Leeu.

“I AM Fest further celebrates the beauty and the diversity of people, respecting and acknowledging each individual’s identity as well as how they choose to express themselves,” said Leeu about the upcoming event.

Leeu - who is also a theatre scrub nurse and LGBTI+ activist says the theme of this year's festival is “Celebrate who you are” and most important to her is celebrating women from all walks of life and generations who have fought for equality and continue to occupy space.

“On this day we embrace the relationships we have with each other as women. We embrace our capabilities, our resilience, and our creativity, and yes our looks! We draw strength from the 1956 march that was led by women, and we also celebrate the lives of phenomenal women that have played a major role in how we express our confidence, our sexualities and our bodies. We are referring to women such as Mama Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie and Lebo Mathosa - legends who have changed the status quo of expression, beauty and artistry of women," said Leeu.

Eyewitness News also caught up with one of the headliners for the event - Gina Mabasa.

The artist's career began when she was 12 years old at church. She later joined the South African Music Award-winning Tshwane Youth Gospel Choir in 2009.

"Music saved me. I started singing in school choirs and church choirs. I then joined an independent choir called TYGC group, then auditioned for Clash of the Choirs, then that was the beginning of a beautiful thing," Mabasa recalled.

Leeu said it’s important to have Women’s Month as it celebrates how far women have come in the struggle for equality while acknowledging how far we still are in this journey.

“I think for me these days it’s no longer about how you look, if we look at the 90s it would be women with a certain body type or complexion. We’ve kind of shifted the focus from that to pure talent and entertainment,” said Mabasa.

Mabasa, who studied music at the Vusi Mahlasela Foundation with a focus on music theory and instrument (bass guitar) with Jonas Gwangwa, said that the industry is hard for artists.

The Nyeleti singer has, however, been lucky to perform on the same stage as Ami Faku, Ncamisa Nqana, Amogelang Ralebepa and Rivoningo “Bonny” Nkuna just to name a few, adding that she would love to one day work with the legendary Black Coffee.

The organisers say when we think of the struggles women face we should not forget the Queer women in our society who are continuously fighting for their lives on a daily basis. Women’s month also belongs to their battles and their continued fight to be seen and heard.

“I think it’s very important for queer people to continue creating safe spaces for themselves beyond 2022 because you can never have enough representation. The more we showcase our skills and talents, the more confident we become in our being. Safe spaces aren’t only important for visibility, but they also help highlight the progress that we have made as a community together with our allies."

The organiser said I AM is simply how you see yourself and how you celebrate being you. You are worthy of being celebrated. It doesn’t matter what race you are, what sexuality you are, what gender you are! You matter!

“Come join us on Saturday at Newtown Corner as we celebrate women from all walks of life, as we honour those who come before us and hopefully leave a mark for a future generation of strong women."