Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
THE troubles bedevilling the arts sector in Zimbabwe are no different from what artistes in Swaziland are facing, said Nohlahla Sibisi, a member of the Swaziland kwaito group Chakalaka. She said one could starve trying to become a full time artiste. The three member group made up of Sibisi, Kwandumusa “LK” Gama and Siphelele Magagula aka DJ Sowhat, is in the country to attend the ongoing Ibumba Festival (iFest) in Bulawayo where they are also performing.
Members of the group which is fresh from winning the Best Kwaito gong in their country, said although they were famous across Swaziland, promoters still preferred paying South African acts more.
“Promoters don’t have much faith in Swazi groups as they prefer to have South African artistes gracing their major events. They don’t pay us and prefer to say, they’re doing us a favour by giving us a platform. This is what we’ve also heard from our Zimbabwean counterparts,” said Sibisi.
She said taking up arts as a full time job was a huge risk in their country as gigs are few and far between. “If you want to live of art you’ll starve. It’s not a full time job and as such we do other things to sustain ourselves. When we spoke to our Zimbabwe friends in the arts we discovered that we’ve the same challenges,” said Sibisi
She said the group which was formed in 2014 was inspired by life experiences of most members that grew up in Msunduza Township in Mbabane. “There’re a lot of untold stories that happen in the ghetto. In Msunduza where most of us grew up, you see a lot and we sing about it in our music. We look at our music as edutainment,” said Sibisi.
After only a year in existence, Sibisi said songs such as Buya, Abafaazi and Siyabajova have made waves in their country hence their gong at this year’s awards. Turning to the group’s participation at this year’s iFest, Sibisi said performing at the festival was a learning curve.
“When we heard that we had been invited to perform at iFest, we were excited because it’s the first time for us to visit Zimbabwe. We see such trips as an opportunity for cultural exchange,” said Sibisi. Chakalaka was invited to iFest by Siyaya Arts as part of the festival’s cultural exchange programme.