Guitarist busks in peace in Durban

2013-07-11 00:00

BUSKING in Durban may seem an easier practice than in other parts of South Africa after a report of police manhandling a blind busker in Cape Town emerged this week.

Durban buskers, however, still feel as though there are too many limits placed on them trying to make an honest living in this way.

Michael Sangweni (71), a blind busker at the City View shopping centre in Greyville, said that he felt “at home” at the mall where he has been playing since 1986.

“I have always asked for permission to play outside of places where there would be a lot of foot traffic and I would be able to make more money,” he said.

City View management welcomed Sangweni, where he is even known by shoppers who he teaches how to play the guitar.

Shopper Melanie Lewis said that Sangweni was a friend of hers, who taught her how to play and who she taught lyrics to.

“He has been here for years. He recently was given a new guitar but he still likes playing his old one because he likes the sound,” she said.

Supporting his wife and children through busking, Sangweni said that music was his passion and he played country, gospel, jazz and favourites from Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

Sangweni was born in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, and after an illness he went blind at the age of five.

He was then sent to a school for the blind in Cape Town, where he learned how to make baskets.

When he returned to KZN, he worked at a blind society in Westville in 1962, when he and five other men started a band in which all all the members were blind.

They made a record and were featured on Radio Zulu, which is now known as Ukhozi FM, before the group disbanded. Sangweni then became a solo busker outside various shopping malls in Durban.

Earlier this week it was reported that blind busker Lunga Goodman Nono was forcibly removed by police from the St George’s Mall in Cape Town. Nono has since had his guitar replaced by witnesses of the incident.

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