Zanefa’s luck

2012-10-06 13:47

Amid the noise of banging chairs and soccer cheers, Percy Mabandu talks to a maskandi star about social media and girls.

Weekend afternoon get-togethers at any Joburg eatery with a TV set are a potential flop – especially when you have an interview with a rising maskandi crooner and Manchester United insists on giving Wigan Athletic their biggest thrashing of the season.

It came down to 4-0, if you care. Now add that the man I’m meeting, Zanefa Ngidi (26), like many talented lucky strikers from KwaZulu-Natal, pronounces “L” where there’s actually an “R”.

This makes it even harder to comprehend what he says. It’s a speech trick the Zulus share with the Chinese. Think here of “flied lice” as opposed to “fried rice”.

Ngidi has just released his second album, Ebusweni Bencwadi.

His star has been on the rise ever since producers like Phathaphatha Ngcobo and Tshepo Nzimande of Zuz’muzi Music took notice of his demo tape.

Ngidi’s big-break CD, Umona, was released in 2010.

The project got him a nomination for Best Maskandi Album of the Year at last year’s SA Traditional Music Awards.

His music made it to the number-one spot on Ukhozi FM’s top 20.

The resultant fame and its related treats have had their effect on his music.

It’s to be expected, in true maskandi tradition, the musician must reflect the world as he sees it.

So, Ebusweni Bencwadi, which is “on Facebook” in Zulu, carries songs about his new-found luck with girls and the social network’s useful discreetness.

“You see,” he says, “I meet girls all the time and they want to shoot pictures with me.

Others often ask for my numbers.

This can be a problem if you have a family. So I just say ‘no, we’ll talk on Facebook.’”

One of the songs, Ebhulukhweni, chronicles Ngidi’s philandering tales.

He battles the din of banging chairs and howling fans to sing a few lines from the song.

“Angi babizi abomabebeza yibona abeza kimi ... iintombi zingkhumul’ibhulukhwe mina ... Ayokhala majita khona ...”

We crack up as he explains what it means. “I’m saying I don’t call these girls.

They come after me and they take off my pants themselves,” he says.

As soon as the noise ebbs as Manchester United scores yet another goal, we move on to more serious chatter.

However, he asks that we don’t talk about his family.

“I’m the musician, not my children.”

Ngidi only shares that he is a father to five boys. The eldest lives with him in Meadowlands, Soweto.

Ngidi was born in Embizeni, ­KwaMaphumulo in KwaZulu-Natal.

At 15, he left his father’s homestead for Durban’s city lights with the hope of doing better.

Obviously giving up on education because, as he puts it, “life was hard at home”.

In his late teens, Ngidi earned R80 a week selling toys for Indian merchants in the taxi ranks of Durban.

He persevered through doing various piece jobs with construction companies across the city.

As things got better, he lodged at the YMCA and joined Vikiyeza Brothers, a small-time maskandi group.

The creative flame getting brighter, he followed the grand migration to Joburg.

Ngidi moved into a flat downtown and bought himself a guitar.

He taught himself to play songs he was hearing in his head.

The budding maskanda used to dream about his musical hero, the late Bhekumuzi Luthuli, who would “urge me to sing”.

It was a bitter victory when Ngidi released his first album and Luthuli shook his mortal coil the same week.

So Zuz’muzi Music recalled Ngidi’s debut album from shops so he could include the now-famous tribute track, Umso Kamolo.

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