Guitar duo serenades Cape Town's rail commuters

2018-09-15 19:39

Thabani Dube, a South African, and Jose Monteiro Nungidi from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have come together to make a living playing music on Cape Town's trains.

The two met three months ago on a train. Dube tells the story: "On my way to Wynberg busking in the train I met Nungidi carrying a guitar. I asked him whether he could play my favourite song, "Dança Ma Mi Criola" by Tito Paris. He played it exactly as it is on YouTube. We exchanged contact details and later decided to practice playing music together."

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Dube is 29 years old and from KwaZulu-Natal, GroundUp reports. His family did not have enough money for him to complete his matric, so he joined friends in Orange Farm close to Johannesburg and worked in the construction industry.

train
Thabani Dube (left) and Jose Monteiro Nungidi (right) are from different countries but they are working together to make ends meet. (Photo: Bernard Chiguvare, GroundUp)

"I realised the construction industry is hard for me. So I decided to come down to Cape Town and busk on trains. In Johannesburg there is too much competition in train busking," he says. He now lives in Philippi.

Joining Nungidi has given him hope of achieving his dream "to become a popular musician". He grew up loving reggae music, especially by Bob Marley.

"I played his music from YouTube," says Dube.

"Now when I met Nungidi, I discovered he is able to play any form of music. We are entertaining train commuters and at the same time making a living from the donations we receive from them."

Music runs in Nungidi's family. His father runs a band in the DRC. Nungidi started playing music in his teens.

"My father, now 80, taught me how to play guitar and sing at a very early stage. I discovered I needed to have some formal training in this industry so I had to leave DRC for Namibia and went for proper guitar training. Later I decided I should move down to South Africa in search of greener pastures," says 40-year-old Nungidi, who lives in Wynberg.

Nungidi and Dube play a variety of music including reggae, Afrobeat and jazz. They have also composed songs of their own.

'They should keep entertaining commuters'

"We decided to play our music in trains to capture commuter attention. Since we started three months ago we have got a lot of support on all train lines in Cape Town. The only challenge we face is sweets and fruit vendors come shouting at the top of their voices, making it hard for our listeners to hear our beat," says Nungidi.

Asked how he copes living in a foreign country, Nungidi says: "Music knows no boundary. I can play any song in any language though at times I am not sure of the meaning of the words. My friend Dube is teaching me isiXhosa."

On Wednesday GroundUp joined the duo from Cape Town to Bellville and back. The two entertained commuters from one carriage to the next.

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Grace Mbele, 19, from Eerste River, donated R10 after listening to their music. "These guys play very good music and I like the way they are earning a living. I am talented in singing. I think I have to talk to them some time so that [I] can also join them and add a female voice to their music," she says.

Nyasha Saruchera, a Zimbabwean, donated R30. "These guys are talented. I really love the way they sing and play guitars. They should keep entertaining commuters."

Jeremie Kaamani was supposed to get off at Maitland train station but decided to go two stations further because he was so captured by their music.

On return from Bellville the two had pocketed about R100.

Read more on:    cape town  |  public transport

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