Honouring African culture

2011-05-20 00:00

DAVID Jenkins, a white maskande guitarist and musician, recalls what it was that got him hooked on music. “I was about nine years old, and I used to travel around quite a bit with my dad [the late Chris Jenkins] and he went to a lot of traditional functions to report on them. I remember really enjoying Zulu culture and specifically the music.”

That, he says, was what birthed his fascination with Zulu culture and maskande, a genre of music seldom associated with white musicians. The closest name that springs to mind is Johnny Clegg, although his music wouldn’t have maskande purists labelling it as such.

“I got to meet him,” Jenkins says of Clegg. “It was a very casual meeting, and we chatted about music and maskande music. He’s great.”

The 19-year-old, who matriculated last year and resides on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, is planning on following his “biggest dream” — heading to the United States to further his career, where he says there is a large constituency of expats and music lovers interested in his unique sound and the maskande style of music. “I’m doing everything I can. I’m very keen to promote South Africa there. I’m very proud of this country and would love to tell people about it.”

To that end, Jenkins has recorded and released a new album titled Child of Africa (Ingane yase-Afrika), which features 10 original tracks. “The feedback has been great,” he says. “The thing I’m really happy about is that every song has been commented on from a range of people.”

One of the songs, The Storyteller, is a tribute to the late David Rattray, the historian and tour guide of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war in South Africa who was killed in 2007. The opening song on the album is a World Cup tribute titled Our Time To Shine, inspired by the tournament hosted in South Africa last year.

Jenkins, who sings and plays guitar, banjo and concertina on the album, has also been sent music from American writers and producers and asked to “Africanise” them.

His work has brought him into contact with names such as Allan Brody and Paul Simon.

• For more information on Jenkins and to listen to his music, visit www.myspace.com/davidjenkins

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