Interview for Tonight with musician Dr Malinga. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 15/01/2013

In our annual Top 10 artists to make it big predictions, we were right about Dr Malinga. Therese Owen played catch-up a year later with the phenomenon that he is.

Journalists are a cynical lot who believe the concept of being star-struck over famous people is left to mere mortals.

Yet, when Dr Malinga and his crew arrived at The Star in the Jozi CBD, he caused quite a stir in the office. Young journos and photo-graphers lined up to have their picture taken with Dr Malinga in his purple suit. They were star-struck and gushing. Of course, the entertainer was sweet and obliging. And, of course, most of them asked him to do his famous kick for the photo.

That night on the red carpet arrival for the Metro FM nominations party at Summer Place in the upmarket northern Jozi suburbs, there was Dr Malinga, this time in a red suit.

While the pretty little starlets were posing and preening for the cameras, the photographers flocked around Dr Malinga, asking him for his famous kick. It was all rather bizarre, evoking thoughts like, ‘this could only happen in South Africa.’

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past year, or thought that Mangaung was the only thing happening in the country, here is a brief history of Dr Malinga.

I first saw him in December 2011 at a Vodacom concert at Moses Mabhida Stadium. He was singing his first big hit, Casanova, while Oskido was deejaying. Now, Oskido normally has a permanent grin on his face when he is deejaying. It is his happiest time in his life. But that night he was laughing and laughing.

Dr Malinga starts off normally, like any other house artist with a cool song, except he is dressed in a colourful suit. Then boom, he jettes through the air, as graceful as a prima ballerina. And after leaping around the stage, he kicks, he kicks really high. Then he pulls his pants up to above his waist, amaBEE style, and starts dancing like those horny tenderpreneurs, who think they can rock the young chicks with their cool dancing and oodles of cash. Dr Malinga is a sight to behold.

He touched the imagination of the country when he performed at the Metro FM Awards in the Mbombela Stadium in 2011. Again, it was a memorable performance, filled with surprises, airborne leaps, kicks and uber energy. Plus, he sings well.

His reputation was sealed at the Channel O Awards late last year where again he proved another highlight at the music event.

But just who is this crazy man? Why do we love him? And where, oh where, did he come up with that style? And finally, how did he hook up with Kalawa Jazmee? This kind of unique performer is normally noticed by Ghetto Ruff. Think Pitch Black Afro, Mzekezeke and Mgarimbe.

These questions are reserved for the interview, post the photoshoot. He changes into his purple suit and the shoot, conducted by Tonight photographer, Antoine de Ras, begins. It quickly turns into the funniest shoot I have ever seen. Dr Malinga did not need much encouragement to leap about the studio, his forefinger delicately touching his thumb each time he jetted. Each kick, or leap, or BEE move was accompanied by a cheesy, rural grin.

After the shoot we head for Newtown for the interview. He leaves his suit on.

The first thing I learn about this man is that he has graceful, masculine mannerisms. He is also a great storyteller and draws you into the story with his animated ways. He also doesn’t care what people think of him.

Growing up in Hammanskraal, Dr Malinga said he loved performing from a young age. “One of my first jobs was handing out advertising pamphlets for furniture shops.”

His lucky break came in 1998 when Phumi Maduna of Cheek to Cheek was singing for a promotion outside Russells Furniture shop. When she took a break he took the mic and began singing, telling people about the sale specials from the pamphlet.

“I was paid R200 for that,” he recalls. “They even gave me a big cellphone, remember how big they were? When it rang I would take it out and say ‘hello’ very loudly, but it was only them calling me.”

He then became one of those guys who sings outside furniture shops, enticing customers into the shops. He also used to enter competitions and won the Mmbabane Cultural Calabash Competition three years in a row. He also won a Mazda 3 when he entered the Voice of Choice held on Thobela Radio.

“I did a Rebecca Malope track. She is my idol.” He then bursts into a Rebecca song at the top of his voice, and mimics her exactly. Passersby stare in amazement at this man in a purple suit singing Rebecca loudly. He is oblivious.

“I once slept overnight in central Jozi just to see Rebecca. I was so angry when Lundi came along because he took my shine.”

For the Voice of Choice finals he sang Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special. It was 2004 and she was dying in hospital. Again he breaks into song, and does a better rendition of Fassie than even Deborah Fraser. He then starts explaining the voting process in a Wilson B Nkosi style. My stomach is hurting from laughing.

He and the other finalists stayed in the Parktonian Hotel.

“It was my first time staying in a hotel. I went to breakfast and came back to my hotel room and my bed was made. I phoned security and asked who made my bed. I thought it was a ghost. The other contestants just laughed at me.”

While he won the Mazda 3, it was stolen from him at gunpoint. In the meantime he was still promoting furniture shops like Rhino Cash and Carry, Russells and Ellerines.

His first big hit was Casanova with DJ Choice which just lost MTN Record of the Year at the Samas in 2011 to MiCasa. People were starting to take notice. His second big hit was Father to Be with Kalawa Jazmee newcomers, Black Motion. Oskido and the big boys of Kalawa sat up and took notice.

“Oskido organised a meeting for us. He said he wanted to do something in 2012. I met the Kalawa producers the next day and they put me in the booth and I sang Jika with no pen and paper. Oskido was so excited he called Bruce Dope and Mahoota and Stoan. Within three days they had a contract for me.”

His album is set for release later this year. Those doubters who believe he is merely a novelty act, will be proven wrong. He was not on DJ Choice’s video for the song Casanova, and it was still a big hit. He is currently enjoying massive success with Mahoota’s track Via Orlando. Watching him perform, it is obvious that he is a talented singer who gives his all on stage.

“I am not a celebrity. I am an entertainer. I wear suits because they are considered boring, but I want to liven them up. You don’t expect a kick from a man in a suit and then when I kick again it’s like ‘did you see he kicked?’ People say I am on drugs when I perform, but I don’t take drugs or drink alcohol.”

As for his famous dance, Dr Malinga smiles: “I call it the Linga Dance. It is every dance you are afraid to do in front of other people. That is why people laugh because I am doing in public what they only can do in private.

“Passion is something you don’t create. It is something you are born with.”


Do you think you can do The Linga Dance? Film a 30 second video and upload it to YouTube under the title “Tonight Linga Dance”. Then e-mail us your name and contact details, as well as the URL of the YouTube video.

The prize is a backstage pass for two to a Dr Malinga concert, and a Kalawa Jazmee hamper. The winner will be chosen by Dr Malinga himself.

Send your entries to: [email protected]

The competition closes on Wednesday, January 30, at midnight. Only the winner will be contacted.