Zozo Mposula & My Beautiful People
While in Copenhagen it was important for me to connect with another Gypsy, an artist with a story to tell, and a journey to share. I found Zozo Mpolosa on Instagram as she is the Founder of My Beautiful People. I immediately knew it would be great to meet her and hear her perspective on life in Copenhagen. I met with Zozo for coffee on a rainy and cold Copenhagen afternoon and the connection was instant and the conversation went on for hours.
Enjoy! Gypsy Latisha
Q: How did you arrive here in Copenhagen?
A: I came here as a student in 1999 as an exchange student.
During that time there was a lot happening in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and was elected as President. The opportunities were many opportunities in the Arts for Africans in the Scandinavian countries and vice versa.
The international world was opening up to South Africa. It was an opportunity to get out and seek an education elsewhere. I took the opportunity and received a full grant to attend school here in Copenhagen as a dance student at The School of Modern Dance. This decision ultimately changed my life. Although I was sad to leave my Mom and Dad and my family and friends in South Africa, I knew that I needed to start to shape and form my life and pursue my passion.
Q: 17 Years later, you still call Copenhagen home?
A: My husband and I met during the 2 years I went to school here as a part of a performance arts program. After returning to South Africa to my family and completing school we lost touch. Shortly after my return home I was extended another opportunity from the University to further my education on full scholarship where our paths would cross again. After completing that and an intense courtship we realized we were in love. He accompanied me back home to South Africa to meet my family, which is when I realized that he was serious. Shortly after I had lost my mother and following that my father and was pregnant with our first child. We decided that building our lives in Copenhagen was the right thing to do.
Q: What is life like as African in Copenhagen?
A: Life in Copenhagen as an African Mother raising 2 children is intense. There is a level of ignorance that danes have due to lack of exposure and education about our race. Not only do I have to explain this to my children so that they know how to handle themselves when these things occur, but I must also ensure that they are proud to be who they are and are not trading their heritage for the culture that they are surrounded by.
The lack of knowledge that Danes have about the Black culture sometimes causes them to say things that are incredibly insensitive. Usually their intent is not to offend, but ignorance is not an excuse to be insensitive to history. I think that there is plenty of work to do to unite Africans in Copenhagen as well as educate Danes on our culture.
Q: What do you think would make an impact on race relations in Copenhagen?
A: I firmly believe holding on to who we are and what our heritage represents instead of assimilating and forgoing it all just to fit into Danish culture is a step in the right direction. Currently I am working on a program specifically to cherish our heritage through traditions, stories, music and dance for our children that come into this country. Many Black children that come here are adopted and at a very young age so assimilating comes natural. The rich history of our Ancestors must be cherished and remembered their many sacrifices deserves to be honored.
Q: Copenhagen is called the Happiest country in the World, would you agree?
A: On one hand I don’t really know if we are any different from anyone else in the world. We have to work to survive we are hard working people, not being originally from here I can only speak from my perspective. I believe the term stems from the mere fact there are specific things that we don’t have to worry about like; education and health care are free here in Copenhagen. There is government assistance also which almost eradicates poverty and homelessness on our streets. The city itself is absolutely beautiful so there is a lot to smile about. To take the conversation further I feel as though it is also a city of contradictions. There is a level of ignorance that exists here about race relations based purely on experience and exposure, this paired with.
Q: What does Travel mean to you?
A: Travel means a new culture, way of life, food, smells, people, memories and association. It also means that I am forced to reflect and be critical of the norms from my place of origin. It broadens and educates me of where I come from and where I find myself. I personally am interested in meeting locals whenever I travel. That is when I get an authentic experience, avoid tourist traps, get to make long lasting friendships and learn a few phrases.
Q: How does your Art enable you to stay empowered?
A: Art has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world at an early age . It has also enabled me to travel in some parts of South Africa that I might have not managed to visit. I have performed in amazing places, have touched souls, connected and sometimes disturbed people´s perception of how dance or dancers, specifically should be like.
It has and still gives me the freedom to be in the “body that I am in”. My body is a tool that I can utilize to express myself in which ever way I see fit. It built my self- confidence at an early age, what I found difficult to express then verbally I could always express with my body. The interconnectedness that dance allows an individual is invaluable especially for our youngsters. It saddens me to hear a child saying: I cannot dance. This is supposed to be the most natural movement, so it is given that if you can walk, you can dance. I guess this why dancers are the most underpaid, exploited, practitioners. So as a dancer and now a school teacher, my aim is to let children experience the freedom dance allows you either through community work or at schools.
My belief is that every child should have access to some form of art, be it music, theater or music. Dance and dance history should be a compulsory subject at schools.
Visit: My Beautiful People