Arts Corner: Bongani Bambata Nkwanyana

Bongani Nkwanyana & Friends is a 12 piece versatile band performs live in International Festivals, Concerts, Corporate events, Clubs, etc.

However, the band can be reduced to 7 piece and still maintain the quality of Bongani Nkwanyana’s sound i.e. (Afro-Jazz Maskandi).

Bongani Nkwanyana and his music

The composer, producer, mas’kandi guitarist, script writer/director Bongani Nkwanyana, professionally launched his music career in 1985,

He was invited to join a local band after winning Informal Maskandi Competition, judged by spectators and celebrated as the youngest and the most promising Maskandi Lion.

He believes that music is an artistic expression to be shared by humankind from all walks of life and a unifier of diverse cultures and nationalities.

Bongani Nkwanyana’s music  style

Nkwanyana’s music is a fusion of Traditional Zulu (Maskandi) and Amahubo (Folk Music) with modern Afro Jazz influence, which puts his Maskandi Music in a world class music circle and makes it completely unique.

Some of Nkwanyana’s melodies cover even those that were sung by The Great Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu, who is mother to iNkosi (Chief) Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi.

Live Performance

Nkwanyana’s live performance features 3 energetic traditional dancers skilled in different traditional dance categories i.e. Umzansi, Shameni, Bhaca, isiChunu, etc,

Full backing Band i.e. Drums, Bass guitar, Acoustic guitar, Jazz guitar, Keyboards, Saxophone and 3 backing vocals.

Theatre Experience

Nkwanyana wrote and directed the most popular musical play entitled “It’s my Life”

“It’s my life” is a musical play, basically about a young girl, who grew up in rural areas of KwaZuluNatal, South Africa, where she obtained her Senior Certificate and proceeded to the City of Johannesburg to further her tertiary Education.

However, leaving her life away from her parents was a disaster, where she started making more cash by selling her body.  

She ended up got infected with HIV and AIDS, which led to different kinds of sicknesses and shut down all her dreams to become world model.

History and Collaborations

Bongani Nkwanyana (The Band Leader) is the first Maskandi musician to win a national music competition known as The Shell Road to Fame in 1988

Nkwanyana was privileged to meet and learn from top Maskandi musicians, whom some of them are pioneers of maskandi music, such as Phuzushukela John Bhengu, Thintameva Msomi, Moto Khukwayo, Manqamu Gumede, Fezela Ntanzi, Inkun’emdaka, Ntamoyenkunzi Mchunu, Hhamela France Msomi, Magezela, Philemon Zulu and many others.

He further associated himself with the likes of Steve Faartar of The Flames, Madala Kunene of Zanuse, Sipho Mchunu & Johny Clegg of Juluka, people who advised him that masikandi music could be fused with other music influences.

When he moved to Johannesburg, he was privileged to work with prominent jazz musicians such as Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Jabu Khanyile, Bheki Khoza, Lulu Gontsana, Gloria Bosman, Suthukazi Arosi and others, who could also understand both jazz and maskandi music properly.

Nkwanyana is in a mission to free maskandi from the chains of inferiority and gain its recognition as world classic music.  

He is the founder of the most popular and most selling bands such as Bambata, Nu World, Abafana Abalungile, The Scorers, Inqaba yeMbube, Maronza and recently Shosholoza, to mention the few.

Working with top producers such as Jabu Khanyile, Hugh Masekela, Bheki Khoza, Duma Ndlovu, Chico Twala, Mthandeni Mvelase, Dumisani Dlamini, and others has gained Nkwanyana most experience both as a singer and a producer.

Collaborating with World acclaimed musicians such as Jabu Khanyile, Phuzekhemisi, Thandiswa Mazwayi, Rude-Boy Paul, Tiny Motha and others, enabled Nkwanyana to record “The Rebellion Concert” Live @ Newtown Hall (former “Mega Music”) currently known as Baseline, which is available on VHS, DVD and CD.

The Solidarity For Ever recorded live at COSATU’s 8th National Congress, Gallagher Estate afforded Nkwanyana an opportunity to perform at the presence of South Africa former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela where he shared stage with the likes of Bra Hugh Masekela, Chico Twala, Letta Mbulu, Sibongile Khumalo, Busi Mhlongo, and many other great musicians.

Locally, Bongani Nkwanyana has performed at Kippies Jazz International Club, Hugh Masikela’s J&B Junction, Johannesburg Civic Theatre, and Kilimanjaro, to mention just the few.

Internationally, he has performed at Africa Festival in Germany, Africa Festival in Spain.

He was invited to perform at The Union Building, in Pretoria, currently known as Tshwane, on the 27th April 2004 “Freedom Day” at the President Thabo Mbeki Presidential Inauguration, where he was privileged to perform in front of the whole World Government leaders that were honouring the event.

He was also invited to perform at the COSATU May Day event, in Bloemfontein, on the 1st of May 2004.

In September 2004, Nkwanyana released his 3rd Bambata CD called Abashokobezi (1906-2006) sequel to the 2nd CD entitled Ukhandampondo(Poll-Tax) and the 1st CD entitled 1906.

Nkwanyana initiated Bambata Project in honour of iNkosi (Chief) Bhambatha Zondi who vehemently fought against colonialism and imperialism at the beginning of the 20th Century.

However, he (Bhambatha Zondi) was eventually apprehended and beheaded by British Soldiers in 1906  

Nkwanyana has received a total of 7 South African Music Awards (SAMA) nominations thus far.

Nkwanyana was invited to perform at the Reconciliation Day on the 16th December 2004, staged at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown, Johannesburg and Polokwane.

He was unanimously elected a chairperson of the Inner City Arts and Culture Forum, in Region Eight, representing up and coming artists in Gauteng Province.

The organization is a collaborative platform for up and coming artists, where they share their common knowledge through debates, workshops, performances, etc

Nkwanyana established Kora Records, a record label with which he aims to assist and empower up and coming artists, as well as artists with latent talents.

Kora Records has recorded and released most popular artists such as Ekuphakameni, Calvary Gospel Group and Shosholoza.

In November 2006, he signed with Chissa Entertainment Group (Record Company) and release his new CD “solo project” entitled YASH’INKANI, end of May 2007.

Yash’inkani (Perseverance)

Long walk to recognition (1985 to 2010)

Yash’ inkani is Nkwanyana’s distinctive project where for the first time maskandi music is properly blended with horns, Afro-Jazz-sounds and other solo instruments featuring interludes and cross-over sounds.

The music is basically traditional Zulu maskandi music fused with different music influences such as Afro Jazz, Soul, Marabi, Mbhaqanga, Kwaaito, etc

Yash’inkani “Perseverance” (Tribute to iNkosi (Chief) Bhambatha) is a call for all Africans to free themselves from colonial and mental slavery, and open a new page for self-consciousness, peace, reconciliation, unity, pride and identity.

In such solo project, Nkwanyana is working with a team of World acclaimed musicians i.e.

Musician / Artist Performance / Task
Bheki “Mfundisi” Khoza Producer
Deen “DinZulu” Gillan Sound Engineer
Kwazi Shange Drums
Tlale Makhene Percussions
Mandla Zikalala Bass:
Lindelani Mathonsi Keyboards
Zamo Mbutho, Ayanda Zulu, Noxolo Radebe, Jabu Mavundla Backing Vocals
Bez Roberts, Sydney Mnisi & Mzamo Bhengu Horn Sections
Bra Hugh Masekela (Horns)

Noxolo Radebe (Female lead vocal)

Gift Dlamini (Rap)  

Featured Musicians

Thanks so much for reading, hope to see you again :)

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