Zakes Bantwini. Picture: Supplied
South African songwriter and producer Zakes Bantwini exudes energy and maturity compatible with his latest offering, Love, Light and Music 2.

Born Zakhele Madida in KwaMashu, north of Durban, the musician Bantwini is known for his impeccable dress sense, signature dance moves and an infectious laugh.

He speaks of his music as a definition of his life’s journey.


His latest album, which is his fourth, took more than three years to finalise.

“The music was not quite ready to be released,” he said.

Bantwini, who writes 95% of his music, said he had to be in a relaxed and inspired space to make good music.

And his efforts came through in songs like Bang, Bang, Bang; My No.1 with a music video featuring his wife Nandi Madida ( nee Mngoma) ; and Dancing Trumpet featuring Hugh Masekela.

He spoke fondly of his wife and his kids and how they inspire him to make music.

“With all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I got an opportunity to rewrite my journey. I feel loved and protected and comfortable,” he said.

Bantwini married Nandi, musician and TV star, in 2016 and they have a son together.

He described his music as a blend between jazz, dance and soulful music.


He is known for tunes like Clap your hands and Ghetto, among others.

The award winning Bantwini cautions that his music would not appeal to people who only delight in hit songs but to those with an ear for classics.

“I do not make hits, I make classics. With classics you need to listen,” Madida said.

Growing up in a notorious township, Madida said it was the norm to look up to gangsters and fraudsters as these were men who were perceived to have made it in life.

“We called them ghetto kings, they had everything,” he said.

“I am changing that narrative.

“A ghetto king is a man who works hard for his money, ethically; looks after his family and takes care of others,” he said.

His journey in showbiz began as a dancer. He enrolled to study light music at the then Technikon Natal, (DUT) in Durban but during his final year, he was shot during a robbery.

Unable to continue with his studies as a result of the incident, he focussed on producing music for other people and on growing his business, Mayonie Productions, which has produced the likes of L’vovo Derrango, DJ Sndara and Beezory.

He spoke of lessons learnt when the business went through a slump as challenges that came to show him the reality of who he was.

“Times like that show you who you really are and show you what kind of people you have around you,” he said.

In 2013 he joined Sony Music as an executive responsible for artists and repertoire but after two years he could not resist the bug to perform on stage again.

“I realised that the big accolades I am after are not acquired in the boardroom and I missed being on stage,” he said.

He continued his studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and graduated with a diploma in Jazz and Popular Music in 2013 .

“I want to lead social change through music and my life,” he said adding that he acquired a qualification in social entrepreneurship for that reason.

Madida dreams of establishing a foundation and building a health care centre for cancer patients in honour of his mother, Nomthandazo, who died of breast cancer in 2007.

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Weekend Argus