Kwaito and house still deserve their own awards show

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Jakarumba and Spikiri with performed at Hansa Festival of Legends in Newtown. Photo: Sipho Maluka
Jakarumba and Spikiri with performed at Hansa Festival of Legends in Newtown. Photo: Sipho Maluka


The annual Mzansi Kwaito and House Music Awards (MKHMA) are set to return for their sixth edition in November and the plan is to have the events live at Sun City’s Super Bowl – provided the Covid-19 pandemic slows down by then.

Acting managing director, Siboniso Dlamini, is confident about the likelihood of the physical event taking place.

Dlamini said: “The pandemic has been the problem not only for us as MKHMA but the whole country and the world. We have lost our MD, Zbu Sgebengu, due to Covid-19 as well as one of the artists nominated for the 2021 edition of the awards.

“Last year’s event was hosted virtually on our Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels due to the country being on Level 4 lockdown when gatherings were prohibited. The announcement was a huge success, and we are ready to host the awards at the Sun City Super Bowl on November 27 with all Covid-19 protocols being followed.”

Even though Covid-19 has made it hard for the team organising the awards, they have continued with the planning of the main event and have planned for both a virtual and a staged live event.

“We are also working on obtaining a media broadcast partner to broadcast the event on TV,” said Dlamini.

The nominees cover an expansive spectrum from the old guard of both the kwaito and house genres as well as some of the newer acts.

READ: Bakae | Is Motswako music still a thing? 

Jairus Jakarumba Nkwe of the seminal group Trompies has been nominated in the Best Kwaito Artist category and his group in the Best Group or Duo, Best Kwaito Single, Best Collaboration, and the Best Kwaito Song of 2010 – 2015.

Now the span of entries considered begs the question as to how relevant kwaito still is in the age of gqom, trap and amapiano?

Speaking on behalf of the Trompies, Jakarumba said it feels great to be nominated and he appreciates the recognition. He added how a win would mean a lot to him as he has poured so much effort and time into his craft. He also shared positive sentiments about the future of house and kwaito with new artists exploring the sound.

“My views on new talent streaming in, is the way forward for them to promote their work. Times have changed and we need to change with the times. It is hard for young talent to be heard on radio or TV. Record bars are no more. I feel like social media is now the way forward to build your brand and sell your music. I agree with young talent streaming their music.”

House and kwaito artists just have to be smart about it. After all, as much as it’s an art form, it is also a business.
Heavy K

Jakarumba is of the impression that it is important to celebrate the authentic sounds of Mzansi so that we not lose touch with our African roots and culture, in that way we won’t end up being copycats.

DJ Heavy K, who is of the new era of house music, said he looks up to a few of the kwaito and house acts that came before him.

He said: “It would have to be both Oskido and Black Coffee for me. More than anything I’ve learnt a lot from them and still do.

“Playing the long game and keeping up with the times is what they’ve excelled at and that pushes me to do so as well, not forgetting opening doors for others as I have been doing so for years.”

We have seen various trends that are built from the foundation of kwaito like qgom and amapiano. How relevant does he think the kwaito and house genres are in this era?

Heavy K said: “I can only speak for house music as I’ve been doing it since I started. It is very much still relevant. The demand is still at a high level. I’ve never felt irrelevant in my entire career as I’ve been constantly making hit songs regardless of what genre is popping at any moment.

Heavy K Might said he looks up to a few of the kwaito and house acts that came before him. Photo: File

“House and kwaito artists just have to be smart about it. After all, as much as it’s an art form, it is also a business.

“Adapting to times can only be an advantage, hence my upcoming offering will be heavily amapiano influenced with my spin on it.”

Looking back to the beginnings of kwaito, this genre was – for all intents and purposes – the soundtrack of rebellion started in the 90’s after legends like Chicco Twala, Stimela, Brenda Fassie, CJB, the late Dan Tshanda, Dan Nkosi, Sankomota and many more. This was initially referred to as bubblegum music which dominated the airwaves of South Africa and other African states.

Jakarumba added: “For the love of music and dance we created this genre which is now called kwaito from the fusion of different genres like bubblegum, disco music, maskandi, gospel, mbaqanga, Afro and many more.

“We fused all these genres to create kwaito and South Africans loved and went crazy for it. Then there was the release of our freedom fighters post-1994 and Tata Mandela was released from prison. Apartheid laws were abolished and there was equal rights for South Africans.”

During this revolution, kwaito and house music took South Africa by storm and gave young talent a platform to shine.

“We were using our talent and creative minds that God gave us. We produced hit after hit and our music was selling like hot cakes. We formed our own record labels like Kalawa Jazmee, there was 999 Music, Mdu Music, TS Records, Ghetto Ruff and many more from this kwaito genre. Until now we still going strong because music is our life.”

Jakarumba believes kwaito was sabotaged and angrily explains: “I don’t who they are, or what they’re trying to achieve by saying kwaito is dead. In my opinion kwaito will never die. There are now genres from kwaito like amapiano, New age kwaito, qgom and South African hip-hop. All these genres now use kwaito elements.”


Phumlani S Langa 


+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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