Penny Penny from being a farmboy to World renowned star

By Faeza
02 September 2016

Penny Penny (real name Eric Kobane) has built a good life for himself and his family. Coming from a polygamous family, with 67 brothers and sisters, his family was left stranded when his father died.


“My father had 17 wives and my mother had 14 children. When my father died, life was hard. I was born at a very difficult time. My mother moved back home with her 14

children and when I was 10 I had to go and work on a farm.

I have never gone to school and for a long time, I couldn’t read or write. I later worked

in the mines and that is where I started break-dancing,” he says.


Dancing opened him up to music, for which he is now famous. Penny Penny’s debut album Chaka Bundu, released in 1994, saw him crowned as the new king of South African


The album is still earning him accolades 11 years later. “Chaka Bundu is still rocking international clubs and it can still make South Africans dance.

I performed for a crowd of 16000 people in Australia recently, and I’m in demand in countries like Iraq, Iran, Japan, China and America, where my music is still

getting young people on the dance floor,” he says.


Although an American DJ spent seven years trying to track down Papa Penny and work with him on his music, Penny Penny says he is disappointed in how South African

musicians and promoters exclude Tsonga musicians.

“For years, musicians I know have told international DJs and promoters that I’m dead. The root of this is jealousy. But I’m glad the American DJ finally tracked me down through

my work for my local municipality.

Through my work, I’m teaching people overseas to appreciate our music and culture. There is more to South Africa than isiZulu and we don’t have to fight each other for


People overseas love South African music because they are not tribalistic. At home, we all just want to listen to our own languages and play our own music, forgetting that we are all South Africans. Good music is good music, no matter what language you sing it in,” he says.


While he may be an international star, Papa Penny never forgets about improving the lives of others. As a ward councillor of Mopane District in Giyani, Limpopo, Papa Penny says

his job is about making sure the people who voted for him get to live a decent life.

“The people of my ward love me because I understand what they need and I work hard to deliver it to them. Everything I do is led by God. I have made God the centre of my life.


In his new role as a choir master on Mzansi Magic’s Clash of the Choirs, Penny Penny is hoping to nurture fresh talent from his home province of Limpopo. “I’m looking for people

who can sing, who know what music is about and understand that I mean business ,”he says.

“I’m honoured that they’ve considered me to be part of this. I’m really excitied,” he says.