News Brief

Listen to ‘Born To Kwaito’ Author Sihle Mthembu’s Interview with Cheeky Natives

Author Sihle Mthembu discusses the erasure of women in kwaito, Arthur Mafokate's toxic masculinity and more.

South African writer Sihle Mthembu, co-author of Born to Kwaito: Reflections on the Kwaito Generation, a collection of reflective essays on kwaito music, sat down with Dr Alma-Nalisha Cele and Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, hosts of the literary podcast Cheeky Natives.


In the interview, Mthembu speaks about how he feels Arthur Mafokate has often been wrongly accredited as the "King of Kwaito" chiefly because of his toxic masculinity aside from not having been the genre's foremost innovator. Arthur Mafokate has been on trial following assault charges laid against him last year by his ex-girlfriend Busisiwe Twala.

Mthembu says he refuses to be a part of the complacent consumption of the problematic artist and producer and label head's art, as much as he has contributed to the kwaito space significantly. Mthembu also speaks to the systematic erasure of the role of women in kwaito; the likes of Thembi Seete and Thandiswa Mazwai, women who have contributed widely to kwaito music, and gone on to transcendent it and are still very much relevant today.

Read: The 10 Best Kwaito Producers

When asked what the motivation for writing the book was, Mthembu responds by saying:

"There wasn't a definitive text about kwaito which was surprising for me as a longtime fan of the genre. A lot of what's been written about kwaito comes from the academy and also from white writers. So it felt important to be able to write a book about kwaito from a black perspective. And also to speak about the politics of kwaito and how it influenced other things from cinema and television to fashion."

Mthembu goes on to speak about the political history of kwaito, what South Africa looks like post-Apartheid through the lens of kwaito music and how as a writer, he feels we don't appreciate the work of essayists enough.

Towards the end of the interview, Mthembu expresses how he hopes the book will reflect South Africans more accurately, and that it inspires a change in the perception of the genre.

Grab a copy of Born to Kwaito here or bookstores across South Africa.

Listen to the podcast below and be sure to subscribe to Cheeky Natives on Apple podcasts.

Check out more of our kwaito coverage here.


Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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