I am doing this for longevity and not popularity – Afrotraction on his 17-year music career

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Afrotraction performing at the Joy of Jazz festival in 2013.
Afrotraction performing at the Joy of Jazz festival in 2013.
Lucky Nxumalo/Gallo Images

He is sweating and breathing heavily as he jumps off the stage.

He just finished performing his hit songs Ngeke K’lunge, Ngiphelele, and Mnike to an audience that sang his songs word for word at the 23rd Metro FM Awards announcement held at the Capital Hotel in Mbombela.

Everyone is excited to see him live. He quickly grabs a few selfies with fans and photographers snap at him until his team pulls him aside to speak to a fellow musician.

Nomfundo Moh is star-struck, she compliments him and sets up a date to work with him on an upcoming project. Musician Mzwandile “Afrotraction” Moya (39) is humbled by the love and support. 

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This year Afrotraction turns 40 years old, and he plans to give back to his staunch supporters.

“I have the most loyal, soulful, and talented fans out there. This year, I plan to collaborate with my musical fans to empower them. I am a producer by profession, so I will get fans that can sing, play instruments, and create a project with them. I can’t help everyone, but I can do my part.”

When he was a budding musician, he received help from many friends and complete strangers. “I would like to do the same for someone else,” he says.

With age comes wisdom and Afrotraction has learned to work hard and never stop learning.

“Life has taught me that there is always going to be someone better than you, prettier than your partner, and just always someone born better than you in many things. So, I’ve accepted that, and I try to learn from every person I interact with. Right now, I’m learning new grooves and new waves from younger musicians and that challenge alone is keeping me excited and on my toes.”

In his discography, the Nelspruit singer has over eight projects and still going strong. He looks back at his 17 years in the music industry as a professional and counts his blessings. “I am so grateful to have made it this far and to have remained relevant.”

For many, Afrotraction is best known for his album For The Lovers released in 2014 which took his career to new heights. But according to him, the album he released last year, Africa Love Music, has been his best body of work thus far because it has all the features, he has always dreamt of having.

“This is my most successful project to date because I featured a lot of familiar faces in the RnB space such as Donald, Unathi, Pres, Brian Temba, and so forth and the reviews have been great. His career dates back to playing the keyboard in the church at nine years old. He started singing professionally in 2006, after leaving his Nelspruit home for greener pastures in Johannesburg.

“I’ve been making music professionally since 2006, before that I was a keyboard player in church. I started playing the piano at nine years old. In 2006 I got a lift from a friend who was going to Joburg. We found a studio somewhere and I got a recording deal with Electromode. A friend took me in and helped me.” It’s been a winding journey since then. Afrotraction believes that for many years, he has been the underdog because he has not known his worth and he blames himself for it. 

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“For the quality of the work I do. I don’t think I get enough. The recognition is there but not enough credit. Monetary-wise, I am nice. But I am still not getting booked the way I should for my music.”

Afrotraction says this is because he makes music for longevity and not for popularity.

”I am fully to blame for this because I decided from the beginning not to make music to get gigs but for radio. I make music for longevity and not for popularity. My music stays longer on the radio and that is my strength. But the people who know me, know my abilities and I guess I don’t need popularity. I am happy with that. I was never about fame in the first place but about creating good quality music that will last.”

In the past, he has made a few mistakes that he has learned from. “I made many mistakes but the main one was doubting myself and my capabilities from the beginning of my career. They delayed my progress and my growth in the industry. People would compliment me but I wouldn’t see it.

"I come from Nelspruit and humble beginnings. The people from where I come from are chilled and mild in reacting to many things and I came in with that mentality. We call it humility but it’s actually fear. I was nervous.

"But over time it grew as I started mingling with different people and learning my value.

"I am happy with my lessons. It’s my growth, my pace, my journey.” 

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