Hotter than ever: Mafikizolo at 20!

Legendary South African music duo Mafikizolo comprising Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza make their Coke Studio Africa debut in 2017, collaborating with Kenyan rapper Nyashinski. During a Coke Studio Africa Instagram Live interview with the Khona hitmakers, Theo of Mafikizolo talked about their experience at Coke Studio Africa and some of the highlights of their 20-year-long career in music:

How Mafikizolo started

It all started with Theo’s dreams of being a songwriter. He says: “To be honest I didn’t want to be a musician but I felt like the only way that the industry would recognize me and my talent was if I was in a group and after I met Nhlanhla at a talent competition I asked her if we could start a group –that’s how Mafikizolo was started.”

How to make a hit song

With continental mega hits that include Ndihamba Nawe, Chelete, Happiness and Kucheza, Mafikizolo are celebrated for being one of Africa’s greatest songwriters. Theo talks us through the gift of songwriting. “Growing up I used to listen to other people’s songs and wanted to write my own as well. I was buying music and wanting to find out who is the producer of the song. People like Babyface inspired me to be like them. When I got into the industry I met Nhlanhla so I could start a band so I could be a songwriter. It’s difficult to be songwriters in Africa because it’s difficult to say you are one and make a living out of it. However, some people go to school for songwriting on how to write hits, verses and a chorus but it’s best if it comes to you naturally.”

On their Coke Studio experience

The pairing of Mafikizolo and Nyashinski will be produced by top South African pop music producer, Sketchy Bongo. Theo says: “We’ve got different studios in a creative environment. We love its warmth and nice feel. So far the vibe is good!” He adds: “We’ve done some research on Nyashinski and found out that he is very versatile as far as music is concerned. We are also versatile, so expect that we might do a Hip-Hop track, Afro Beat, House or anything that the producers throw at us.” 

Secret to Longevity

Mafikizolo reveal that their earlier inspiration largely came from Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Lucky Dube and Yvonne Chaka Chaka among other great artists from outside Africa. While at Coke Studio, Mafikizolo announced that in 2017 they would be releasing a special album with 20 tracks this year to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the music industry. They say the secret in the music industry is in collaborations and language.

“That brings colour to the music, even though other fans don’t understand different languages. It is important that artists don’t forget who they are. You must be aware of your identity if you want to prosper in the business of music.”