Bongo Riot chases music career but still thrives in ’9 to 5’ job
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Pretoria - When you are in the entertainment industry and you end up taking a 9am to 5pm job, people will always talk.
However, that did not discourage Bongo Riot, a former member of Gang Of Instrumental, who now holds a regular job to make ends meet, while still pursuing a music career.
Mphikeleli Riot Zungu, 42, now based in Rustenburg, said “gold ran out” in Joburg.
He then moved to the North West, where he now works as a grout plant attendant at one of the global companies based there.
Gang of Instrumental was the brainchild of Mandla N and consists of three band members – Bongo Riot, Mandla N and Tumi “Lady Naturelle” Masemola.
The band was formed in the early 2000s. Bongo Riot went solo in 2014 and released his project under TS Records.
Since going solo, Bongo Riot has done well for himself and has earned awards for his work, but with the pandemic, he found himself needing a lifeline, like anyone else.
The pandemic meant the entertainment industry was unable to do anything because of the lockdown restrictions that have been in place since March 2020, and it has been a battle since then.
All those in the entertainment industry lost their sources of income when serious lockdown levels were implemented, and that created a window of frustration for many.
He said after going solo, things were hard, but he was glad that he took a risk that was now paying off, with no financial burdens.
With the help of a friend, he managed to get a job and make music at the same time. It was never easy for him to adapt to a “9 to 5” job, but against all the odds and negativity he made it through and was able to provide for his family.
“It has been very hard. I do not want to lie; I mean from being a member of one of the ‘baddest’ bands in the country, from releasing a project with one of the biggest independent labels, TS Records, with Zahara, then going solo without any financial help,” said Bongo Riot.
“I am grateful for the move because I was able to give my art the direction I want. It is now a walk in the park ever since I met Bantu Media, and I have since released three albums.
“We took two best Reggae/Dancehall gongs at the South Africa Music Awards consecutively with these three projects,” he said.
He continued: “Most of my fellow artist criticised me badly when I took this job, which was organised by a friend and record label owner ,Matla Lethunya, aka Don Power.
“However, to me it was rational and the greatest move, and surprisingly it gave me a chance to write more music without being under the pressure of supporting my family.”
When not working as a grout plant attendant, where workers do mine maintenance and support the operation from the fall of ground, which prepares miners to work in safe conditions while underground, Bongo Riot gets time, with no pressure, to write his own music and craft his work the way he wants.
“I write what I like and I get a chance to practise my art every day without disturbance from anything like finances to support my big family.
“It can get tough in the entertainment industry and often celebrities find it hard to get out of their comfort zone and the industry to try and make ends meet, all because they know that they will be the talk of the town.
“Although there is nothing wrong with a regular job, well-known celebrities who find themselves in the deep end often find it hard to switch their lifestyle to an ordinary one,” he said.
“This is not because they do not want to, but because they get discouraged by the negativity that surrounds them.”
Bongo Riot wants his colleagues in the entertainment industry to be bold and not shy away from opportunities that arise outside the entertainment business when it means making money.
“To my fellow artists, just swallow your pride and get a job to maintain yourself and your family. I mean the coronavirus pandemic is taking over and it seems it’s still going to go on for some time. Peer pressure will not feed or pay school fees for your children.”
He said he and his team are busy with other projects and in the studio with various producers.