African Music Encyclopedia


Mzwakhe Mbuli


photo of Mzwakhe Mbuli

Mzwakhe Mbuli was born in Sophiatown but soon moved to Soweto after the South African government bulldozed his hometown. Once in Soweto Mbuli began performing with theater groups. In 1981 he read two of his poems at the funeral of an anti-apartheid activist which just by chance bgan his professional career. Soon people came to him from all over to ask him to recite poems at political and cultural events.

In 1987 Mbuli recorded his first record, Change Is Pain, which was initially banned until growing pressure forced South Africa to allow more freedom of speech. His second album, Unbroken Spirit, went gold despite no radio exposure. At the beginning of 1990 Mbuli formed a group to combine his powerful singing, chanting, reciting, and rapping, with the classic South African township styles of marabi (gritty local jazz), kwela (pennywhistle music), and mbaqanga.

Almost seven feet tall, Mbuli cuts a dramatic figure on stage dominating live shows with his deep resonating voice. In 1994 Mbuli spoke at Nelson Mandela's inauguration.

Also try this page about Mzwakhe Mbuli

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