Sleepy hollow to boom town

2012-02-09 00:00

THE quiet rural community of Esigqumeni has enjoyed an unexpected spin-off from the curious story of the man claiming to be a maskandi artist who rose from the dead.

After uKhozi FM announced that the award-winning Khulekani “Mgqumeni” Khumalo appeared to be back from the dead, scores of people flocked to Nquthu to see if they could catch a glimpse of the man who claimed to be their music hero. Although Khumalo is in custody, facing charges of fraud and perjury, Nquthu’s usually quiet streets are still buzzing with cars and people.

Now the people are asking what Siphamandla Sibusiso John Gcabashe expected to gain from his act of deception. Did he think that the family would simply accept him, and that the media and police wouldn’t find him out?

Many curious people travelled to see the man claiming to be Khumalo at the Khumalo homestead in Esigqumeni outside Nquthu. Taxis, street vendors and B&Bs benefited from the rush, smiling all the way to the bank following the busy weekend trade.

A food outlet manager who did not want to be named said Sundays are usually the quietest day of the week and he made little money.

“This past Sunday we ran out of some products and we ended up asking nearby stores, like one in Dundee, to assist us with supplies. We managed to make R61 000, which is very good for the business. Normally on Sundays we make between R19 000 and R20 000.”

The manager said traders in the community are preparing for Gcabashe’s return court date next week to ensure they don’t run out of stocks.

Sthembiso Jiyane, a street vendor, said she underestimated the number that the crowds would swell to and had not bought enough goods.

“I have to go back to town and make a new order.

“I just made R1 000 in two hours, which is exciting, because business is very slow here on a Sunday,” she said on Tuesday.

Vendors were doping a brisk trade in vetkoek, fruit, chips, sweets, popcorn, snacks, juice, braaied chicken and mielies.

The Nquthu Taxi Association’s Mthandeni Ndlovu said Sunday was a very busy day for the taxi industry, and not just local taxis.

“People started arriving in numbers at our taxi rank asking where the home of the maskandi musician Mgqumeni was and they wanted taxis to take them there. More and more people came to see him.”

Ndlovu said that even though the man turned out to be an imposter, taxis had benefited.

Taxis with number plates from all over South Africa poured into the town, their passengers speaking Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho.

Mgqumeni’s music has enjoyed a revival and sales have spiked in music shops around the country since the story of the modern-day “Lazarus” broke.

Mboniswa Madlala of Dakota Music in the Greater Edendale Mall said the outlet was selling many more CDs and DVDs of the artist. Many shoppers come in simply to see Mgqumeni’s photo on the cover sleeves.

Meanwhile, traders in Nquthu are hard at work preparing for Gcabashe’s next court appearance on Tuesday, and the promise of the hungry hordes that could come with it.

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