From the archives | We catch up with Kwesta and his family to chat about their plans for the festive season and the New Year

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Rapper Kwesta with the women in his life, wife Yolanda and their first-born daughter Khai.
Rapper Kwesta with the women in his life, wife Yolanda and their first-born daughter Khai.
Drum/Onkgopotse Koloti

They spent their first year of marriage in lockdown, the Vilakazi's are going to be spending this festive with a special new addition to their family, baby Kenya Elihle Vilakazi who they welcomed in November. 

In the spirit of festive, we look back at an interview we had with Kwesta and his family chatting about their plans for the festive season and the New Year last year. 

Read more | Kwesta on new music, keeping inspired during lockdown, and his family

Unlike many of his peers, he isn’t dripping in designer clothes and gold jewellery, nor does he drive a luxury German whip.

On a Friday night you won’t find him popping bottles at clubs because Senzo “Kwesta” Vilakazi would much rather spend the evening at home on the couch, watching a great movie with his loved ones while digging into takeaways.

The Ngud’ rapper has a reputation of having his feet firmly on the ground while always putting his family first – and this is why Kwesta is crushed he can’t spend Christmas with his makoti and their daughter. But his wife, Yolanda Vilakazi, and daughter, Khai Asemahle Vilakazi (6), understand everything he does is for them and he’ll be back home before the firecrackers light up on New Year’s Eve. 

We meet the family at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton where they’re spending family time after picking Khai up from school. They’re holed up in a twobedroom penthouse suite, towering above the hustle and bustle of the city. The peace and quiet is a slice of heaven for the popular rapper, who just wants to chill with his girls.

Kwesta (31) and Yolanda (29) challenge each other to a pillow fight. They’re like teens in love, we remark.

“Before anything, we’re best friends,” he tells us. “I don’t think this life and parenting thing would come so naturally had it not been for our friendship and love.”

Khai drags her dad by the hand to a corner of the room where they sit side by side at a grand piano, running their fingers along the keys. “I think today we might just learn how to play,” Kwesta says, attempting to play Happy Birthday to You. Khai has taken a liking to music, he adds.

“She loves my music and sings at school concerts. Her favourite song is Send Me Away by Nasty C and Rowlene.” His daughter is friendly and talkative. “We let her do what she wants a lot of the time, but we instil good basic values,” her dad says.

“Kindness, good manners – greet, always say please and thank you – the rest we’ll work on along the way.” He’s a “chilled dad” he says, who is in awe of his little girl. “Every day I learn something new from her. She’s a logical thinker and very expressive. I love it when she surprises me by saying something intelligent or funny.”

vilakazi
Kwesta spoils Khai but teaches her respect and kindness.

Nothing makes Khai happier than climbing on the jungle gym at the clubhouse of the Centurion estate where they live.

“I love playing with my friends at the clubhouse and having my mom and dad around,” she says. “That’s her favourite hangout spot. We usually go there on weekends to catch up with other parents,” Yolanda says.

Khai may have her father wrapped around her finger, but her mom is the disciplinarian. “We allow her to be a child and to create memories. But she’s a daddy’s girl,” Kwesta says with a smile. “These two are best friends. They’re inseparable,” Yolanda adds.

Kwesta promised to be home with his family this Christmas – their first following their white wedding nine months ago – instead of taking festive-season bookings. But duty calls and his scores of fans are demanding to be entertained because Ke Dezember. While he sets stages alight, Yolanda and Khai have a mommy and daughter beach break planned. They’re heading down to Durban to spend some time with her family. They usually spend the holidays in Katlehong, Kwesta’s kasi, and would visit family and friends before going to Yolanda’s family in Durban. Not only does she support her husband, she also understands the demands of his job.

“You know, around the festive season everyone will be with their families, but I guess that’s the price one has to pay,” she says. Yolanda manages singer and songwriter Thabsie, so she knows what life is like for an artist on the road during the holidays. “I sometimes also travel with Thabsie, so I understand, but we can’t wait for him to come back home.”

In January, they plan to travel as a family, she says. “Getting a taste of what’s outside our comfort zones is refreshing. And we want our daughter to have fun before we start growing our family.”

The Vilakazis don’t want a village full of kids but wouldn’t mind another two or three soon. “We love family and being in a homely environment.”

Read more | Kwesta and Yolanda welcome their second baby girl

Last month the Khethile Khethile rapper and his queen celebrated their ninth anniversary with a date at a seafood franchise. Kwesta posted a video on social media teasing his wife for their low-budget anniversary but there are no hard feelings.

“We don’t really live by anyone’s standards but ours,” Yolanda says. “As long as we’re happy and our daughter is happy.” Kwesta loves to spoil them and is the best gift-giver.

He bought Yolanda, who shares a birthday with Khai, a Barcelos restaurant as a birthday present in October. “That’s the most romantic gift I could ask for. He’s not buying me a bag but something that will empower me and our family,” she says.

“I just wanted her to have something she calls her own and to also do something away from music,” says Kwesta, who won’t say how much he forked out.

Yolanda co-owns a high-end online hair store with Thabsie, who is her best friend. “I’m a businesswoman – I don’t see myself just being at home and looking pretty, and I think that’s another thing that attracted Senzo to me,” she says.

Even with experience, owning a business isn’t child’s play, she says. “Running a restaurant isn’t easy, but I’m learning and I love it.”

A regular day at the Vilakazi home sees Yolanda dropping Khai off at school, going to the restaurant to check up on things and running day-to-day errands. “I’m usually asleep until 1pm because I would have been gigging the night before,” Kwesta says. By the time he wakes up, it’s time to fetch Khai from school.

“I avoid picking her up, she doesn’t like it,” he reveals. “I don’t like it when he comes to my school because everyone just wants to greet him and take pictures,” explains Khai, who’ll be in Grade 2 next year. Although the doting dad desperately wants to take his daughter to school, the fan love can be overwhelming.

“I love my supporters and am always ready for a photo opportunity but I don’t want Khai to be treated differently just because her dad is Kwesta. She still needs to feel like a regular kid,” he says.

vilakazi
The couple have been together for ten years.

It's been a great year for the award winning rapper, and he plans to end it on a high note. Kwesta’s album, DaKAR II, recently broke local music records when it reached platinum status by selling 310 000 copies. He also collaborated with American rapper Rich Homie Quan on his single Run it Up.

“To be honest I didn’t do much musically in 2019,” he says. “That wasn’t my focus. This year was dedicated to my family and my wedding – that is my biggest achievement this year.”
Kwesta

Yolanda won’t let him take all the credit for the special day, though. “All he had to do was pay,” she quips.

Kwesta and Yolanda met at a music video shoot in 2010 and clicked immediately. “He wasn’t really my type, but he was persistent,” she recalls. Three years later the couple had Khai, and in 2017 they wed in a traditional ceremony.

Their white wedding was perfect, Yolanda says. She planned everything from the outfits and décor, to the cake and their tropical honeymoon. The groom looked slick and stylish in a slim-fitting cream-and-black suit and the bride was a vision in a flowing white gown. The bridesmaids wore simple fitted maroon dresses, while the groomsmen, including rappers Yanga Chief and Bonginkosi “Kid X” Mahlangu, sported blue suits paired with maroon bow ties.

Kwesta certainly spared no expense for their dream day – the ceremony and reception venue were beautifully decorated in rose gold and white, with dozens of roses on display, while musicians Ringo Madlingozi, Vusi Nova, Dr Malinga, Sjava and Musa Sukwene entertained guests at the lush Thaba Eco Hotel in the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve.

“I just wanted her to be happy and have the wedding every woman dreams of,” he says. “That (planning) is her strength. All I had to do was show up.”

“I planned everything down to the T. I wanted it all to go well and for our day to be memorable,” Yolanda says.

After the ceremony, they jetted off to the Maldives, leaving Khai with Yolanda’s cousin. Because she didn’t go with them on baecation, she gets to choose their holiday destination next year.

“Zanzibar,” Khai screams. “There you have it,” Yolanda says. “She’s been dying to do Zanzi. We’ve been working hard, so we can enjoy downtime. Next year we want to do more travelling as a family and for our daughter to expand her mind in new places,” she says.

Growing up in Katlehong, Kwesta didn’t get to travel much but his hometown inspired him to dream bigger than his surroundings.

“I’ve never wanted to be a doctor or had any desire to do anything other than poetry and music,” he says. “I wanted to change people’s way of thinking, especially those who came from the same background as I did.”

It’s this humility that makes him relatable to his audience, Kwesta believes. “I don’t try too much. I just stay true to who I am all the time.”

Kwesta has had a dazzling decade – he met and married the woman of his dreams, had a beautiful daughter and made his mark on Mzansi’s hip-hop scene – but the best is yet to come. “Although I released music, 2019 was for my family and making sure we are stable,” he says. “Now that the wedding is done, I can focus on the music and build.”

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