Using music and theatre to address social ills

Siyabonga Mthiyane is a preacher and musician.

Siyabonga Mthiyane is a preacher and musician.

Published Feb 22, 2024


Having always considered music as a platform to help healing, Siyabonga Mthiyane has taken the singing route to address social ills and inspire change.

A preacher and a vocalist, Mthiyane is on a mission to hone his skills and send a message to those who would listen.

Having created a song with his late hero Mbongeni Ngema titled Sicela Umlhaba Wethu, Mthiyane has travelled across KwaZulu Natal, singing at wedding ceremonies since the age of 11 .

Born in Ntambanana, in northern KZN, Mthiyane is a passionate and gifted singer/composer whose talent was nurtured by his commitment to music at an early age.

“It all began in primary school where I was involved with a group of Isicathamiya school and church choir, but really started to take lead as a vocalist in local bands like Sweet Waters and ManVoice boy bands, singing at wedding ceremonies and any platform given to us,” he said.

He added that living in the heart of Zululand was however limiting because of lack of exposure to the rest of the world.

Mthiyane said in the early 2000’s he became part of a group at Sonke Records and Sanusi Stage Plays as a vocalist, which paved the way for him to join Siyakhuleka Music with the late gospel giant Sfiso Ncwane.

He met Ngema in 2010 who encouraged him to record his music.

“With God on my side I managed to record my first single “Kuvele Kuthi Angikhale” in 2018, a song about recent cries of South Africans in a quest to end violence in our lifetime.

“I also completed my debut album “Uyingcwele” which has a variety of faith-based songs in line with gospel and the general struggles we face as a people,” he said.

Mthiyane never looked back after the release of the album, which paved the way for him to share stages with the likes of Dumi Mkostad and Benjamin Dube.

“Because we need to stay relevant, which is a challenge in this country, performing after such greats is a big deal. Having an opportunity to work with people like Mbongeni Ngema and Sfiso Ncwane is huge!,” he exclaimed.

Mthiyane whose new album is soon to be on the shelves, said Ngema was his favourite musician by far because he sustained singing about traditions and customs which was where he himself was heading.

“I like writing and singing about issues that get little attention…so what's next for me is to use platforms like theatre and film to address issues that matter to see change for the better,” he said.

Mthiyane who is also a preacher and a farmer, said he was driven by a desire to get things done and getting the results necessary for change.

He said his latest song featuring Ngema and the veteran's son Afrika, was a dream come true.

“Firstly, working with Madlokovu (Ngema’s clan name) is every child's dream. Working with him so close and personal was growth in itself.

“The song is about the land question and how it was taken from the rightful owners. It addresses equality fostering change to the status quo,” Mthiyane said.

The Star

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