Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
YESTERDAY, South Africa-based Afro-Jazz musician Bothwell “Bekezela” Nkomo released his second album titled Asiwine (Let us win) with the hope of reviving weary souls after a torrid time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There was never a better time to release the seven-track project than now when the country is mourning the loss of arts stalwart Cont Mhlanga who succumbed to pneumonia on Monday and will be buried today at his rural home in Lupane.
Collectively, the nation has been mourning and counting its losses but personally, Mhlanga’s passing struck Gwanda-born singer Bekezela with a different chord and left him speechless.
“I’m obviously at a loss for words. It is a very sombre moment for all of us creatives but especially for me since I had a personal relationship with him. Not long ago when I was coming from a National Languages Conference in Victoria Falls, I passed by his homestead in Lupane.
“Sadly, there was no one there and I was devastated since I really wanted to see him. I got news that he was unwell and sadly, his untimely passing is really a bitter pill to swallow but we will continue his legacy because umkhulu lomsebenzi,” said the Bekezela hitmaker.
He said the album was about victory, especially coming from an era of Covid-19 which was the hardest time for a lot of creatives.
“There were no live performances, shows and record labels were temporarily shut down for that period.
There was a lot of uncertainty during that era and some of the songs that I wrote such as Khumbul’ Ekhaya were composed during that time as I was thinking about home.
I said to myself, things could have been better if I was in my homeland,” said Bekezela.
He said the title track signifies victory, resilience and overall rising above whatever may come.
Bekezela shed light on his involvement with his then record label Mutherland that he worked with when he released his self-titled album in 2017.
“I’m not part of Mutherland but we have cordial relations now. As a solo artiste, I am still able to perform the songs. I am attached to Cradle Records,” he said.
Bekezela’s album is a language cocktail meant not only to teach but is draped with messages that will be a renaissance to a soul’s dearth.
It takes one on an emotional rollercoaster and with Khumbul’ Ekhaya, Lovemore Majaivana’s Umoya Wami was remade.
It was a welcome reunion between Bekezela and the ancestor Vusa Mkhaya who have previously worked together on several projects including Phumelela.
The two joined forces together with other artistes for a signature “Bekezela featuring various artistes” piece. Bekezela is not shy or scared to call on fellow artistes to collaborate on projects and this album was not going to be any different.
Iyajama boasts of a staggering 20 artistes helping Bekezela to convey a message of resilience amid trials and turbulent times.
Some of the featured artistes include Albert Nyathi, Mono Mukundu, Liezel Marshall (South Africa), Zodwa Mabena (South Africa), Khoisan (Botswana), Akinwale James (Nigeria), Candy Tsamandebele (South Africa), Bongani Radebe (South Africa), Vusa Mkhaya (Zimbabwe), Tsungai Tsikirai (United Kingdom), Inno Motong (South Africa), Thabo Masilela Trombonist (South Africa), Ngwato Mapalakanye on lead guitar (South Africa), Nonny D (Nigeria), Simba CI (Zimbabwe) and Papy Nsenga (Democratic Republic of Congo).
“Iyajama was written during the lockdown as well and I sent the instrumental to my friends who then wrote verses in their languages. The album itself is very rich in languages, cultural diversity and a message of hope, victory and resilience.
The seven-track album features songs such as Amanxeba which has Inkabi Records’ Mduduzi Ncube, Vulani which has South African praise poet Jessica Mbangeni and Uluju.
Bekezela also took time to clear some issues about his management and publicity.
“I am under new management. If you notice, I could have had foreign artiste managers but I chose to be managed from home. So, I am proud to say that I am being managed in Zimbabwe and abroad by a local strategist and it has been an amazing journey. Many people claim to manage me but as Bekezela Music I only have one manager based in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Asked of any upcoming live shows since his performance at the Academy of Music in Bulawayo last year for the Real Homecoming where he shared the stage with Berita, Vusa Mkhaya, Vuyo Brown and Msiz’kay, Bekezela said Bulawayo has always been his hometown. – @eMKlass_49