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IT’S AN amazing feeling when you discover an artist at the beginning of his career and he is so talented that, if he plays his cards right, he could just be the next big thing.
That is what happened when I saw the appropriately named Mbijana (pictured) perform at the open mic at Blue Waters Blue Dolphin last Thursday night. “Mbijana” means “short” or “little person” in Zulu and clearly refers to his height.
However, when he performs on his guitar and his beautiful lyrics flow, he reaches the heights of giants.
By day the young man makes teeth for humans for a living and by night he is a poet and musician. His art has taken him to places like the Netherlands, Namibia and Reunion.
Since he was a child he has been involved in theatre productions and sung alto and soprano in the choir. After leaving school he continued to write poetry and then met up with King, a fellow poet and musician. They formed Musopoetry and performed around Durban at places like The BAT Centre.
“I decided to study to become a dental technician because art is a difficult career,” Mbijana explains. “I was inspired as a child to study this because I broke my teeth. When I received my new teeth it gave me back my confidence. I wanted to help people with their self-confidence, too.”
Mbijana’s potential is loud and clear and demonstrated when, a few days later, we do a photoshoot on Battery Beach. He strums along and sings one of his songs for the shoot and afterwards two young girls ask him if he can sing for them while they record it on their cellphone.
“In my songs I have a balance between joyful, which is love, and social issues,” He says afterwards.
“I have yet to write a heart- broken song about love.”
Aaah, the joys of youth.
“Some of my songs embrace my culture and who I am, the spirit of ubuntu, of being a South African, being a Durbanite. My travels have also influenced my lyrics. I wrote a song about slavery when I went to Reunion Island because that place has such a history with slavery.”
His pro-active approach to his art and, indeed, his life, is reflected in an interesting monthly project that he participates in.
A group of musicians and poets put on monthly performances and invite international backpackers as their guests.
“We have a poetry circle and invite backpackers to attend and experience poetry from the township. We don’t hire a hall. Instead, we do it at someone’s home so that they can have the full experience of township life.”
So now you know. Mbijana is a fresh, young talent whose star is deservingly on the rise.
He is hosting a township poetry circle tomorrow night and to find out more, check out his Facebook page. He will play the Blue Dolphin on August 2.