Sikelelwa Anita Mashiyi

University of the Western Cape

Sikelelwa Anita Mashiyi is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at The University of the Western Cape under the supervision of Dr. Annachiara Jung Ran Forte. She holds fellowships in the following centres Mellon Mays, Centre for humanities research, Social Science research council and Anthropology Southern Africa Association; she is also a recipient of the golden key award (2014). She has done various volunteer work, peer mentors University and High School students as well as tutored in the Anthropology department. She is currently an associate lecturer in the Anthropology department and implements the hip hop culture and themes in her teaching. 

Her research aims at understanding the experiences of women hip hop artists who identify as Xhosa and navigate daily men-dominated spaces and a patriarchal society. There is a need to articulate the accounts of women in hip hop through their work, music, dance and cultural productions, moving away from a writing of women that only focuses on the misogynist elements. In her study, she investigates the role of women artists in underground contemporary music practices specifically in Spaza hip hop, and hip hop in isiXhosa more generally, in the black townships of Cape Town. She aims at reconstructing historically the trajectory of Xhosa women rappers since their apparition within the Spaza hip hop scene in the early 2000s, showing how women artists’ inclusion in hip hop circuits disrupts regimes of masculine normativity and hegemony. She is interested in exploring how through music, performances, and ways of being, this group of artists redefines creatively notions of womanhood, gender, femininity, queerness and sexuality. This study also intends to bring new insights into hip hop gender politics, showcasing a ‘new breed’ of underground black hip hopers who have emerged in the last two decades. She strives to challenge silence through her research contributes by addressing the lacuna in African hip-hop discourse. Her PhD research pushes this narrative forward and centres women’s experiences in township life and their life stories through their music. Seeking to explore how gender and sexuality are contested, redefined and produced in creative spaces.


  • 2020- present Other Universals Andrew W. Mellon Foundation CHR Flagship, Doctoral Fellowship, Center of Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
  • 2020 SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiative Program: Graduate Studies Enhancement Grant
  • 2017- 2019 Afro Asia Scholarship, NST-NRF Flagship for Critical Thought on African Humanities, Centre of Humanities Research SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiative
  • 2019 Graduate Studies Enhancement Grant
  • 2017 “Masiye Emjaiveni. Music and Dance in the Shebeens of Masiphumelele, Cape Town”
  • Social Science Research Council Conference (SSRC-Mellon). Presentation. 
  • 2017 SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiative Programs –Predoctoral Research Grant
  • 2017 Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (SSRC) – Mellon Mays Graduate Initiative Program
  • 2016 Afro Asia scholarship for Honours research through NST-NRF Flagship for CriticalThought on African Humanities, Centre of Humanities Research
  • 2015 Award for the Humphrey Award in Sociology, University of the Western Cape
  • 2015 Dean’s Merit List Award for the Outstanding Performance, University of the Western Cape
  • 2015 Undergraduate fellowship, Mellon Mays Undergraduate
  • Golden Key Award Certificate, University of the Western Cape
  • 2013-2014 Dean’s Merit List Award for Outstanding Performance, University of the Western Cape
  • 2013 First Year Merit Award, University of the Western Cape

Mashiyi. S.A. 2022. Representing Islam: Hip-Hop of the September 11 Generation. Written by Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir, Popular Musi.