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Counting Headz: South Afrika’s Sistaz in Hip Hop is a 49 minute documentary film that explores South African hip hop culture through the stories of women in hip hop. It was shot in 2006 and completed post-production in 2007. The film was directed and produced by South African filmmaker, Vusi Magubane, and Canadian filmmaker, Erin Chen-ying Offer.

This landmark documentary film examines how to maintain a truly African sense of identity as a woman in hip hop, the media’s distorted portrayal of women in hip hop, and the challenges of motherhood and pursuing a career in hip hop. It serves as a platform for these talented women whose voices are often unheard but whose stories have proven both relevant and intriguing to audiences worldwide and reveals both a vibrant South African hip hop culture and a cast of strong South African women artists.

Featuring a soundtrack of original music by South Africa’s most respected up and coming artists (Godessa, Endz the Otherness), Counting Headz has been described as a “must see” for anyone interested in music, women’s issues, and Africa.

“Counting Headz” is a collaboration, a labour of love, a celebration. But most importantly, it is a voice for these women’s stories that are often left unheard.

Much of the original performance footage was shot at weekend hip hop shows such as Black Sunday, Slaghuis, and Splashjam, which all take place at various locations in Soweto.

The Counting Headz sistaz are:

CHI was introduced to hip hop as a child in Malawi. Her music incorporates reggae, traditional African, and hip hop. She is one of the most respected female mcs in southern Africa and continues her love/hate relationship with hip hop in Johannesburg.

SISTAMATIC started out in hip hop in the days of Le Club with other well-known hip hop artists such as Tumi and D-Unik. A former b-girl, Sistamatic is currently one of the most widely-recognised hip hop djs in Johannesburg.

SMIRK began getting up on her own as a teenager in Switzerland. In her 20s, she moved to Cape Town, where she worked long and hard to make a name for herself. Today, Smirk is a world-renowned graffiti artist known for her innovation.

As a radio dj, hip hop activist, and co-founder of Harambe Africa, LEE KASUMBA pushes for inclusion of real hip hop in commercial radio. She continues to support projects, both local and international, that focus on hip hop as a method to bring about unity and education.

CUBA’s love for hip hop began as a child in her home province of Mpumalanga. Now residing in Johannesburg and concentrating on mcing for the last four years, Cuba is known for her direct and witty lyrics.

GODESSA is the only recording and performing female hip hop crew in South Africa. Shameema, with Eloise Jones (EJ von Lyrik), and Bernadette Amansure (Burni) became Godessa in 2000. By using hip hop as a learning tool, Godessa works in their communities both local and global to make social change. Their debut cd, Spillage, has received international critical acclaim.

D-UNIK is a well-respected dj and activist worldwide in underground hip-hop. She has contributed to the development of South African hip-hop since the mid 1990s. Currently she is Director of Unlearn Agency, an event promotion company which focuses on hip hop.

Starting out as a dj, ENDZI now shares her talents as an mc. She has shared the stage with international performers from DJ Ready D to Dead Prez. In 2002, she co-founded the Azaniart Movement 4 Innovation (AMI), a non-profit organisation that uses performing arts to get youth off the streets.

CRYSTAL ORDERSON is a hip hop lover and media and gender activist from Mitchell’s Plain (Cape Town). As a television and radio journalist for South Africa’s national broadcaster (the SABC), she has covered post-apartheid South Africa for the past 7 years with a focus on gender and youth from a socio-economic perspective.

KATO began her endeavours into hip hop as a graffiti artist. Currently, she is most well-known for her djing and hip hop activism; Kato helps organise Fire on the Mountain, the largest ongoing hip hop festival in South Africa.

Apart from being an internationally lauded graffiti writer, FAITH47 also focuses on illustration, design, and canvas work. She has exhibited in and painted the streets of Africa, Europe, North America, and Australia and co-directs the graphic design company Mattblack.

*For more information email countingheadz@gmail.com*

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