‘We fought but he was my brother’ – Gwyza on his brotherhood with Tokollo

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Close friend and musician Kagiso “Gwyza” Diseko says he will miss Tokollo's sense of humour and talent.
Close friend and musician Kagiso “Gwyza” Diseko says he will miss Tokollo's sense of humour and talent.

The country is still in shock over the passing of Kwaito veteran Tokollo “Magesh” Tshabalala (45) after he died following an epileptic seizure.

In a statement from his group members from TKZee, Kabelo Mabalane, and Zwai Bala, the musicians said his family is still dealing with the loss.

Close friend and colleague Kagiso “Gwyza” Diseko, who worked with TKZee since the early 1990s and was close to Tokollo, says he is still struggling to process the sad news. 

“This is tough,” he says. 

“I found out on the afternoon about the passing while I was at the bank. A mutual friend Monde Dube called me to ask me if I knew about it, but I didn’t believe him, and my phone lost signal. It was only when a producer from a radio station phoned me, [that's] when I took the news seriously,” he says. 

“We usually see fake death news all the time, as they did with Zola. So, I thought it was the same thing with Tokollo until that call.”

Gwyza quickly contacted close friends to confirm if the news was true.

He has known Tokollo since 1994 and they have a brotherly bond, despite not having seen each other in a year. 

“Tokollo and I were very close. Even when we were not talking for a long time, he was still my brother,” he says. 

The last time they spoke, they had a heated argument. 

“I last spoke to him around December last year. We made a song together and we were arguing about why I hadn’t released the song and the music video among other things. I was addressing some internal issues we had with TKZee and it ended up being a fight and we were not talking. But we loved each other, and it was like any sibling fight, you fight and come together again at some point. I didn’t think he would die before we talked again. I was planning to visit him soon.” 

Gwyza hasn’t performed with TKZee in a long time but has been acting in a few Mzansi Bioscope productions.

He currently plays the role of Japan, a street-smart criminal on SABC 2 soapie Muvhango.

“They always give me thug roles and I am a sweet guy. Tokollo used to tease me all the time about playing thug roles when I’m a shy softie,” he says.

“But I haven’t been performing in a long time. I found something else that I love besides acting and music. I now make furniture. It brings me peace and joy and has taught me a lot of patience,” he says.

“Music is a spiritual thing for me, and I can’t just release for the fun of it. Even the message in music has changed. Everybody is in party mode. I love to party, but I have grown.”

Gwyza says Tokollo would motivate him to not stop making music as he knew he was talented. 

“I am shy and Tokollo would say I am a great writer and performer, but he would say I needed to loosen up and not be too afraid to perform. Even when I featured on the TKZee Halloween album, Guz, Shibobi, he would push me to always go there,” he says.

“I have a lot of music that is unreleased, a mix of Hip Hop of Kwaito and Hip-Hop. Tokollo wanted me to not hold onto it and just release it so I don’t lose the passion.” 

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Reminiscing on the old days, Gwyza says the best times of his life were spent with the TKZee family which consisted of Tokollo, Kabelo Mabalane, Zwai Bala, Loyiso Bala, Dr. Mageu, and Sbu Malawyer.

“Back then we were innocent. We loved music, loved life, and a good party,” he says. 

“We were just happy guys and people would join in the happiness wherever we were. We could laugh at anything. We saw the comedy in laughing even about serious matters like being broke or going through a serious issue.” 

Gwyza recalls once being sold a fake Lacoste t-shirt in Johannesburg and how the guys teased him.

“Tokollo and the guys teased me so much because the logo of the Lacoste crocodile was facing the wrong direction and looked strange. I never heard the end of it,” he laughs. 

“Our brotherhood was simple and honest. When we went on tour with other artists, we had a great time and that is what made the music great and brought chemistry to the work. We got the chance to rock the world, under one roof, singing one song. I got the opportunity to write and produce for one of the greatest groups, TKZee,” he says. 

“Of course there were fights and even now we have disagreements but they will always be my brothers and Tokollo’s death is a loss for all of us. Today we celebrate Tokollo’s life. It contributed to who we are, we all have memories of him.” Gwyza says even if Tokollo made him upset, he could find something that will make him happy.

“His talent and his sense of humour was unmatched,” he says. 

“It’s just that the world is cruel to the givers. The world forgets to give, and the giver forgets to receive. I am humbled to have been a part of his experience in my life and his. We did great things together.”  Another memory Gwyza has is when he fought with the American Hip Hop group Naughty by Nature at a concert in South Africa. 

“I remember he called me when I fought with Naughty by Nature. I was angry that I didn’t get booked and got onto the stage during their performance and they hit me,” he laughs. 

“The next day; Tokollo and Kabelo went to confront Naughty by Nature. They showed up for me,” he says. 

“I will always cherish those memories. I think about his family; his siblings Tumelo, Kutlwano, and Dineo. He has nieces, nephews, and cousins. If I feel like this, I can imagine how his family is feeling. We now have another angel along with Thuli Thilis, Moses Taewa Molelekwa, Mageu, Mandoza, Lebo Mathosa, they are there watching over us, angels with great love, I just ask God to let that shine through me, everything good about stress.” 

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Gwyza says life has not been easy since he took a break from releasing music and he takes each day as it comes.

“The music industry is dangerous because it can be depressing. Imagine having your music being played everywhere and not having a cent. Yes one would get royalties but living in a home without even furniture, and having no food but you’re famous is what I’ve been through,” he says. 

“But by the grace of God, I managed to find a way to live without the burden of needing to be popular, or to fit in.” 

Gwyza says for years he battled with drug and alcohol addiction. 

“I was going through very dark space in my life. I was depressed, and not working. I was just at the bottom. I would wake up and start drinking until I passed out. There were times I didn’t have money for cigarettes and people were playing my music. That broke my spirit. I had intentions to be with women, but they would leave because I had nothing, not even a bed. It was just so tough to be isolated from your career. Even [with] royalties, I would buy drugs and alcohol just to have a moment of joy. Being famous, where everybody knows you but you’re broke, is painful”

But Gwyza since got the help he needed to start afresh. 

“I went to find help. I googled how to stop drinking and got the help I needed. Now I don’t drink or take any drugs. I just smoke cigarettes and take it one day at a time. I relapsed during Covid but before that, I was clean for three years, but I have been clean for over a year now and I am happy. I have my furniture business, Pitsa Creations, meaning wood in SeSotho, and I am in a good place.”

Gwyza says the death of his friend has taught him to appreciate life and those around him. 

“Let us bury our brother and may he rest in peace.” 

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