African Music: Orbiting around Moonchild


Her unapologetic attitude towards fashion, music, gender and equality issues – and life in general – make Moonchild Sanelly unlike any entertainer in the world… and that’s exactly how she likes it

Moonchild Sanelly, the vocalist behind hits such as “Midnight Starring” and “Rabubi”, ensures she is an assault on all senses. Her fashion choices are an eclectic mix of radiant colours and her English-Xhosa hybrid lyrics are punchy tales that touch on issues such as female empowerment.

Originally hailing from Port Elizabeth, she moved to Durban where she made a name for herself on the city’s poetry scene. Leaving Durban’s underground scene behind she took her unique sound to Johannesburg to become commercially accepted.

Regardless of where she is in the world (having performed at notable festivals such as Houston’s SXSW and Primavera in Barcelona), identifiers such as “feisty”, “liberated” and “creative” are always used in abundance when she is present. BUT, how does she see herself?

I live in Snow White’s house – I just turned 21 and the Seven Dwarfs are strippers!” she quips. “I live in my own world where I allow myself to be who I am. I fuse jazz, hip-hop, pop, kwaito, electronic music and hints of Afro-punk to come up with a genre I call ghetto-funk. This is because nothing out there matched what I produced. I also use dance and fashion to make the offering even more appealing,” says Moonchild, whose real name is Seneziwe.

One reason behind her rise to superstardom is just how impossible it is to classify any of her talents – her poetry is not slam, her tracks do not fit snugly into any genre and no one has successfully predicted her next move, including her latest project, which involves exotic dancers.

When it comes to female empowerment, very few people ever think of strippers. I have conceptualised a case study where I work with them and the public can be part of this. I will be appreciating these ladies through a project called ‘Stripping Strippers’. I will be using music, fashion and dance to showcase a rather dark part of our society, but it is necessary for me to collaborate with these ladies at various strip clubs in order to tell their stories. This is my version of creativity,” she says.

Moonchild is one of those artists who should never be censored. She is provocative and always ready to push her audience to a point where they are uncomfortable – for her, this is when people begin to truly appreciate what she does.


Moonchild Sanelly’s top three tracks of all time:

  1. “Memeza” by Brenda Fassie
  2. “Work it Out” by Beyonce
  3. “Slowly Surely” by Jill Scott


The moon mop

It’s no accident that Moonchild Sanelly has become recognised by her wild blue “mop” of hair. She experimented with different styles before decided on her current ‘do, which she’s sported for five years now.

In a recent radio, she said, “There was a moment where there was a mop and I had wool, and I thought: ‘Cool, let’s play’.” Moonchild has gone so far as having her “moon mop” patented since it is such a vital part of her image, but she admitted to wearing other wigs when she wants to fly under the radar. “I have a bread buying wig now that I wear sometimes. If I want to go out to the bank to or the shop, I have to wear it,” she said.




Follow her journey on social media

Instagram: @moonchildsanelly

Twitter: moonsanelly




WORDS Sibusiso Mkwanazi

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