Maskandi musician, Ichwane Lebhaca.032 Picture: Matthews Baloyi 2014/07/31

AS BIZARRE as this will sound, one of the most interesting things that this writer finds on Isibaya is the theme song. It is a gentle maskandi tune full of skilfully played guitar tunes over a hoarse Zulu voice.

This love for a theme song just goes to show just how little of the genre makes it to commercial radio. The closest we get to maskandi, apart from Isibaya, is probably through Johnny Clegg or Zuluboy. Yet there are seasoned musicians like Ichwane LeBhaca, who is now celebrating the release of his fourth album, Uhulumeni.

“I am thanking the govern-ment for the good work that it has done. Before we had a black government there were several things that black people were missing in their lives.

“We now have roads, hospitals and running water. All these things we never thought that we would have in the past,” said LeBhaca.

“I am trying to thank the government, the councillors and the mayor, who all work hard to make sure that our needs are met,” he added.

LeBhaca, however, neglected to look at the fact that there are several people, his fans included, who felt otherwise about the government. Several complaints have been been made about the lack of service delivery and so perhaps Uhulumeni is about two decades late. It is the kind of album that probably should have come out around the time that Nelson Mandela was being sworn in as president.

Yet LeBhaca defended his thinking: “We as artists have the role to talk about things that matter to us. We talk about all the good and the bad. It is our duty to do so. We have issues like e-tolls or housing challenges… but we can’t also neglect the reality of the freedoms that came with the government fighting for us. If the issue of e-tolls is still a problem, say two years from now, then we need to talk about it,” he said.

“On this album, for example, I have a song called Apartheid where I am basically saying that apartheid is still very much in place. A black person is still struggling. Derogatory terms like ‘boy’ are still being used for black people. You find an older black woman being called ‘girlie’ by a young white person. We need to talk about these things,” he said.

The creative process for Uhulumeni was intense: “It took me three or four months to finish just a single, so I keep track of time on how long the entire project took me to complete.

“I was doing this to hopefully impress my fans,” he said.

• Uhulumeni is available at music stores nationwide.