Before DJ Cleo’s share of Nairobi’s dance-floors with Facebook, Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi not only moved a sector of the Kenyan society, but assumed new meanings in the process. So did Luanda and Lagos, the latter singing along their own rendition that refrained ‘Uphi umqombothi…‘ with ‘Looking for husband…”. Heavy, ne?

Is waar.

I enjoyed that people in Nairobi were dancing (or not) and singing (and ululating) along with/to the Ten Cities concert acts, instead of documenting with their smart-phones. Some did, and shared on Social Media in pure service to a beautiful scene (actually, I was told that I have only experienced a middle class scene, I know fokol). I dug Dj Danylo’s set, who later observed how the people took serious attention to the dance-floor, bewitched by what was supposed to be his opener set. The response to new music (and ideas) was most beautiful to experience, it was a pleasure to play music for the people of Nairobi!


Thanks to the Goethe-Institut Nairobi for a brilliant writers’ seminar and concert. I am part of a group of writers engaging with the public sphere and urban space space through the lens of club cultures in five African cities and five European cities. Together with Sean O’Toole, we are chronicling some of Johannesburg’s club cultures from 1960 to now now (a hi hat to The Chronic).

Return right here for my next post, on this very exciting topic.

Experiment with Tito & Sims

Tomorrow at SKAFTIEN # 3 I will be experimenting with Simphiwe Tshabalala on drums and Tito Zwane on electric bass. This will be the beginning of a new direction for me and Tito. Simphiwe is a house DJ, and has done this before – a great help, loads of brilliant ideas coming out. Looking forward.


The experiments include breaks and cuts of TKZee’s Mambotjie and Madala Kunene’s Ubombo (Smith & Mighty rmx) amongts others, across genres.

The Unlikely: Kwaito been to church and Belgium

By Kagiso Mnisi

The foremost traits from any popular angle would be that Kwaito is breed-spawning from grubby townships, wags a finger in your face, is irreverant and a head-bop-inducing soundtrack to a deviant youth, perhaps from Meadowlands, Zola or Emndeni. But what this observation aims to precipitate is that the genre has shown interesting anomalies along the way. These woven into our societal narrative with moderate enthusiasm have been a (or the) source of cultural interest – mine at least (I’m biased).


Take for instance the trio that were enveloped by the trappings of private school education at St Stithians, laden with curfews, choir practices, prefecthood, olympiads, abundant extracurricular activities and dining hall camaraderie. Yes, the threesome that evolved Kwaito to Guz had the fervour of ivy leaguers coupled with command interhouse sporting codes and the signature war cry to cheer on the resident mascot. All these privileges enjoyed by Tokollo Tshabalala, Kabelo Mabalane and Zwai Bala of the much famed Kwaito outfit TKZee, a grand ponder indeed considering that Kwaito has always been a nonsensical can’t-touch-come-ragnarok phenomenon to the highbrow. Now how close to the royal suite has the jester been, we ask?

TKZee Guz crusade roped in football star Bennie McCarthy in a track known as Shibobo, as an entree to what was to be France ’98. The song galvanised and entertained in one take, it also punted the trio as having a progressive take in the musical landscape with bravado to match. With this arsenal we were on their side as much as we were on Bafana Bafana’s. Though the ultimate outcome on the sporting field was several dismal performances on the world stage and the irksome neglect by the national coach to arm the squad with Doctor Khumalo’s footwork, we were bopping amid kan jy nie sien o Bennie maak jou maal. Yes, those Methodist school boys had us street bashing along regardless of Pierre Issa’s own goals.

But get it – when it was TKZee who took off gloves to exchange blows with Mdu Masilela in the parodied Masimbela, they had declared war against a player whom many deem a pioneer of the game. The row got pronounced after a project gone wrong while Tokollo Mabalane had moonlighted as part of Mashamplani, a group managed by Masilela under his MDU Music label. Masimbela‘s refrain goes as follows:

ne kile kwana Mashamplani/afihla’nketsetsa mathaithai/hela ntate/helantate waka/moshiman’onketsetesa mathaithai…

which sonically and lyrically unfolds how Tokollo (and Sbu, who feautures on the track) was done wrong or poorly compensated in whatever deal was struck by the A&R Mdu. Things had gone way past pleasantries, as the Ymag cover would depict a spread of the trio demonstrating their sense of triumph. As colloquial lexicon would have it, they were running the streets.

But like with all rock ’n rollers, dealings with the devil for fame have shaky repercussions. The latest fad in the TKZee camp was to binge on contraband and forge brotherhood with the maverick Moses Molelekwa. Molelekwa’s troubled keys are an exact analogy with TKZee’s dive into ‘high’ times. The story amazingly takes in its stride anecdotes such as Mambotjie, which had with it the myths on how a tokoloshe’s mischief can be circumvented by having a mattress on top of bricks. This is relayed in the song’s video starring a burly DJ Fresh trying to ward off all the miniature creatures in his room, but they were not ordinary in that Y-fm’s live and dangerous breakfast show host Phat Joe was one of them, reeling along a vinyl desk. Curfew and the obligatory mass after class was now a distant memory.

The plot would further thicken when a student from Sacred Heart College, one named Kagiso Diseko aka Gwyza, sought attention from the group and later ended as roadie. His persistence led to a feature in the self-affirming We love this place. The empire saw a need to expand operations with inclusions of Sbu and Dr Mageu. This resulted in a further addled, media loathing, dyslexic (confusing fiasco for fiesta or vis-a-vie) TKZee Family.

The mid-break clad with anomalies is not only for TKZee to claim, though! What of that Italian bella, conceived in Belgium, wanting to tread the road less traveled? Her cue should’ve been prompted by those who previously shone the scene aglitter, like Jacknife featuring a prepubescent Thandiswa, for that matter. Let us not be presumptous with Tamara Dey’s union with Oscar Mdlongwa’s younger brother, DJ Pepsi, though. But good enough suggests that they too are of the romantic musing on ‘the unlikely’. Coming through with gem What Am I To Do and the ever so mellowsome anthem Deeper, the combo had concocted an alluring formula that saw Kwaito assuming maturity.

So that is an emphatic yes – the genre has been akin to hymns sung by church-school lads just as it drove a Belgian-born songstress to skip curfew so as to club-hop with one Dj Pepsi. A far end observation from dusty streets, Yizo-esque and truant activity. Just a look at the unlikely, that’s it.

Image – notation by Nkosinathi Mathunjwa

Just what is it that makes Lebo Mathosa’s Ntozabantu so spiritual, so moving?

Gossip and backtalk is a habit that eats at the soul of the human fabric. Extended to Sunday paper gossip pages, the artist can be shredded into deep melancholy and entrapment. Lebo uses blood as a strong metaphor in Ntozabantu, a strategy to point out the value of human solidarity and harmony. Ntobazantu examines the seductive nature of gossip and backtalk. Furthermore, Lebo manages to pull intense tones to succeed with her appeal for a less cruel world.

Kgomotso Mamaila, Tebogo Mokoena and Nkosinathi Mathunjwa are part of the Thath'i Cover Okestra. Seen here workshopping at Keleketla! Library. Image by Tolo Pule - Friday 7 April 2012

Ntozabantu is appropriately directive, but not preachy. Dance music is consumed with euphoria at parties, clubs and ceremonies of sorts in society. Through this mode of communication, dancing is the most apparent response to a moving number number. Thats Y meaning in song can surpass the standard non-verbal human-to-human communication, and suggest non-defensive ways of receiving meaning in life. A significant message can therefore transmit non-verbally, even from an instrumental song.

Lebo’s Ntozabantu is blessed with both; concise, poignant lyrics over a dance-floor ready made melody. Ntozabantu speaks of tolerance with melancholy and jolly energy. Its power to convince us to leave other people’s business is emphasized by the artist’s legendary dance moves. By moving to Ntozabantu, I accept Lebo’s appeal to humanity, a spiritual feat by one of the strongest voices to emerge out of Kwaito.

Ntobazantu is one of the songs to be performed by the Thath’i Cover Okestra at the launch of Shoe Shop on 6 May 2012 at the Drill Hall, Johannesburg. Thath’i Cover is an 11-piece orchestra that revisions Kwaito produced between 1994 and 2004. It is co-curated by Rangoato Hlasane and Malose Malahlela and consists of members of different Joburg-based alternative bands/collectives. The orchestra will collaborate on two songs with the Alex Fieldband, with a special appearance by City Boys pantsula dance crew.

Thath’i Cover Okestra is: Mngomezulu Neku on bass, Tito Zwane on electric bass guitar, Zweli Mthembu on rhythm guitar, Nkosinathi Mathunjwa on keyboard, Kgomotso Mamaila on vocals, Tiko Ngobeni on percussions and didgeridoo, RubyGold on vocals, Gwyza on vocals, Mma Tseleng on electronics, Sibusiso Galaweni on drums and Tebogo Mokoena on saxophone.

Mma Tseleng’s new mix: Dijo Tsa Sontaga

Aka Kgodu ya Lerotse

This is Mma Tseleng’s experiment with Kwaito and Electronica. I have so much of these mixes, just never got around to sharing them empa ka ge bana ba motho ba ngwathelana hlogwana ya tsie, here we go! Hope y’all enjoy ne? Puff n Pass please. Sorry for the ‘unknown’ track names will get back to ya’ll.

Mma Tseleng – Kgodu ya lerotse

i. little dragon – after the rain (floating points remix)
ii. bonobo – pick up (four tet mix )
iii. culoe de song – ?
iv. oda meesta – wena ubani?
v. chiskop – phunyuka bamphethe
vi. chiskop – relax (instrumental)
vii. xploding plastix – ?
viii. trompies – u ku jaiva
ix. thebe – ha di kgogo di le tsosa (mma tseleng tsoga!thebe mix)

Enjoy it HERE!

The Goat of the Road

Mma Tseleng is a collector and Selector of South African Bubblegum, Disco, Maskandi, Tsonga disco, Old Skool Kwaito and Electronica. Fine selection of thought-provoking dance and electronica from South Africa an the world. Served for people with great taste for memorable networking and other happenings. To quote my DJ Satori, Mma Tseleng doesn’t play at wack parties!