The most contentious debate in the South African music scene continues to be whether Kwaito music is dead or not. There are some who would like to suggest that Kwaito is gone with the likes of Mandoza, Brown Dash and Senyaka, while others believe the genre is still much alive and has evolved over the years.
In this well-researched book titled, Born To Kwaito, co-authors Esinako Ndabeni and Sihle Mthembu provide us with answers about this ever-contested subject. The duo successfully does this by speaking to the godfathers of the genre such as Spikiri and Oskido among others.
‘ Kwaito is our culture. How you dress, the language, how you talk, its a culture, declares Spikiri, making a point that Kwaito will never die.
Now, I need to admit that I will be biased in my views since I am also among those who do not subscribe to the notion that Kwaito is dead, and that’s purely because I am still jamming to the sound of Kwaito every now and then. I truly agree with Spikiri’s sentiments about the fact that Kwaito is more than a music genre, but it is a culture, a language, and a way of life to many black people. The authors make that point quite clear by showcasing how the Kwaito culture had a massive huge influence on movies such as Tsotsi and drama series like Yizo Yizo. Not only that but also how Kwaito music played a role in shaping the identity of many black people in the township in the early years of the new democratic South Africa.
Going through the book, one will also get to see how the book debunks the notion that the early Kwaito music was apolitical and promoted thuggish life. Sihle and Esinako maintain through their thorough research, that tracks such as Arthur’s Kaffir and Mapaputsi’s Izinja were loaded with political messages. This book is a must-read, for it connects Kwaito music with so many elements in our today’s society.