Maya Wegerif, born and raised in Shirley village in Limpopo, was named after Maya Angelou. When she was 11, her mother found one of her poems and entered it into a competition.
That was the first time Wegerif realised she was a poet.
“I’ve always just written down my thoughts to make sense of them,” she says. Wegerif kept writing throughout her travels around the world, first moving to Tanzania with her father, and then to the US for university. It was there that she came into her own as Maya the Poet, a fiery spoken-word performer whose commentary and satire drew fans and critics alike.
“I was banned from performing my poem “Why You Talk So White” at a campus Black History Month event, so I uploaded it onto YouTube and it went viral,” she says.
Wegerif, who is fluent in most South African languages, as well as French and Swahili, says that the people in her village are her greatest creative inspiration. The 25-year-old is now back in South Africa, working as an actress and developing a film script that will be set in Limpopo.
She’s also recording music as Sho Madjozi, a Tsonga rapper. Her features on OKMalumKoolKat’s albums are making waves on the South African music scene.
“Words I live by: Just go for it!”