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Watching Channel O recently, I caught Mafikizolo’s (then the late Tebogo Madingoane, Theo Kgosinkwe, Nhlanhla Nciza) first video, Ngihamba Nawe. It has such an unlikely storyboard. There are the Kalawa owners Spikiri, Bruce, Oskido and Mahoota modelling on a ramp which culminates in Mafikizolo striding the ramp in their stylish clothes.
I had to blink twice and then started giggling. The sight of these men walking on a catwalk was incongruous to say the least. But what also stood out was how young everyone looked. And then, when the title came up, it said “2003”. Ten years ago. Ten quick years ago. And since then life happened, particularly to Nciza.
Their eponymous 1997 debut album sold something like 120 000 units in six weeks. The country went crazy for the Afro-pop group who mixed their songs with the nostalgia of traditional wedding songs. Everyone was talking about Mafikizolo. Their Sofiatown- inspired style was as choreographed as their dance moves and their music. They were the whole package.
Then Van Toeka Af (2008) was released to big success. Nciza had married TK Nciza in a highly publicised wedding which was splashed all over the newspapers. They were a golden couple as TK’s record company, TS Records, was riding high on the success of his partner and TS artist, DJ S’bu, and the masked man, Mzekezeke.
Tragedy struck when Madingoane was shot dead in a controversial road rage incident, leaving Nciza and Kgosinkwe devastated. They pulled themselves together and released Six Mabone which, while not having as much success, did comparatively well.
They took a break to focus on their solo careers. Kgosinkwe’s first album through Gallo Music did exceedingly well. His image was somewhat stripped down in terms of fashion and we were able to see his huge talent as a solo artist. Nciza’s music career was not as successful, possibly because she was also focusing on launching her fashion label, NN Vintage. Nciza’s two solo albums were released through her husband’s TS Records.
Then tragedy struck again when Nciza lost her five-year-old daughter, Zinathi, in a car crash. No one can ever know the pain of a parent losing a child.
In 2010 TK discovered the phenomenon that is Zahara and moved her up from the Eastern Cape to live in the couple’s home.
The young singer’s debut album went on to be the biggest release in the past 10 years, eclipsing even Mafikizolo’s sales.
Zahara was dressed by NN Vintage, but nasty media stories and Tweets surfaced alleging that Zahara was treated like a domestic worker around the house, allegations that were vehemently denied by both TK and her.
The Tweets by Zahara fans were vicious, saying that Nciza was treating her badly because her solo career was failing and Zahara was the biggest artist in the country.
Nciza quietly weathered the storm and the furore died down. That was in 2011.
In the middle of last year Mafikizolo entered the Kalawa studio and eight months later they are releasing their fourth album, Reunited.
Judging from the response to their listening session at Tira’s venue, Uber Zulu, in Durban this past weekend, this album is going to soar.
It has that classic Mafikizolo sound. However, they have mixed it up with a new sound from the young Kalawa producers and it works, extremely well. The tempo is faster, the beat has a deeper bass and there is that West African twist which gives the music a global advantage.
The two arrived at the listening session looking as stylish as ever. It was Kgosinkwe who took control of proceedings. He jumped from behind the DJ console where Oskido was playing the tunes and Nciza stood shyly next to him.
The boy created his own dancefloor, using his well-trained voice to sing over the music. The crowd loved it. He turned around to encourage Nciza to sing her part which she duly did. But it was only in the fourth song that she had the courage to step out and join him.
It is sweet that after all these years in the limelight she is still not used to the attention.