BULAWAYO – Recently, multi-talented artiste Madlela Skhobokhobo hogged the limelight in the City of Kings when he garnered four nominations — the highest number by an individual artiste in the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards set to be held at the Large City Hall on June 30.
The Daily News on Sunday’s Jeffrey Muvundusi recently spoke to Madlela Sikhobokhobo, who was born Mothusi Bashimane Ndlovu, on his four-nomination haul and his career in general.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: Who is Madlela Skhobokhobo?
A: I am a simple, very reserved guy born some 30 something years ago to a Mobirwa/Sotho mother called Putso Sijiye and a Jawunda father.Grew up in the rural areas of Gwanda and went to Manama High School and Zezani High School respectively for secondary education. I am a God-fearing man who believes that a dream never dies and that God’s time is always the best.
Q: In arts circles you are now popularly known as Madlela Skhobokhobo, how did this come about?
A: Growing up, I used to always play an old man’s character in stage plays every time and I would play it so well. I feel I love playing these characters hence the birth of Madlela. My director while growing up — Desire Moyo — would not give me any other part but an old man’s part and that grew in me and when I got to South Africa I explored it further.
Q: You became an actor before you became a musician.What then inspired you to turn to music?
A: I think I have always been an actor and a musician but what introduced me to the market are the Madlela Comedy films. I then wanted to expand the character further which forced me to then record the music using the character Madlela. But before that I had always composed music, even for other artistes.
Q: What type of music do you play?
A: Eish that’s a difficult question. I am a bit versatile as I am able to compose different genres and I mix a bit of this and that. What I have realised though is that people like my tshibilika/rhumba compositions more. I guess it is a genre so many Zimbabweans love.
Q: As a comedian you never made a big name but this all changed when you released your debut album. How do you explain this?
A: I think comedy introduced us but the music gave us a wider market. If you go to many buses — that ply Joburg-Bulawayo route, Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route and even some that go to Harare from Bulawayo — they all play our comedy films. The films have gone far and wide. Even in South Africa I am also increasingly getting recognised by some South Africans who have managed to get hold of my comedy films.
Q: Tell us about the popular track Ngamnanka off your debut album Dlozi Lolaka that has turned into a national anthem of sorts?
A: You would not believe this. It is actual the last song I did on the album and yet it has done wonders for us. When it is all planned by the heavens, human minds cannot comprehend. God had a plan about this song and it has totally surprised me how it has captured the imagination of the nation such a big way. Mthabisi Moyo did the guitars on the song and I must give credit to him for a job well done.
Q: How has the album performed since its release last year?
A: The album has done well amongst our people but they simply love this song Ngamnanka more. We are happy about the progress of the music so far.
Q: Which one can you say is your favourite song and why?
A: Ngamnanka has also become my favourite song because it has managed to capture nation and made me believe there is something special that God wants to do using this talent he bestowed upon us.
Q: Who inspires you both in acting as well as in music?
A: You will be surprised that people who inspire me are neither musicians nor actors. Growing up I was inspired by Peter Ndlovu because of his excellence, determination and the never-die spirit. Linda Sibiya, a radio DJ at Ukhozi FM in South Africa also had the uniqueness that inspired me. Then there is my spiritual leader — “Prophet” Radebe of the Revelation church of God — he inspires me a lot. He was the man I turned to when I was directionless and he showed me the way. He is proof enough to me that indeed there is a God in heaven who never fails. There are people you meet in life and you later curse the day you met them but there are those that you meet and they bless every second of your life.
Q: A fortnight ago, you were announced as the top nominee of the inaugural Bulawayo Arts Awards. What does this mean to you?
A: It means that my people are watching and that time has come for us to take our craft to the next level it is a great feeling to be recognised by your own. We are so humbled.
Q: When can we expect your second music project?
A: The full album will be out in October but I will release a single titled Bheyapeya soon as part of the build-up to the album launch. Bheyapeya will come with a video.
Q: Recently, you released a song dedicated to Highlanders, tell us about it?
A: Highlanders is a team I grew up supporting and that is why I decided to honour Bosso by dedicating the song to the team. It’s a song that encourages supporters to rally behind the team through and through.
Q: How many films have you written or acted in so far?
A: I have done Madlela 1-3, Silence and Bafoe My Blood currently showing on Mzansi Magic. I recently did another titled Death of Fear.
Q: I understand some of your projects have been commissioned by ZBC. Tell us about it?
A: I have done a Madlela series for ZBC-TV that is screened every Monday at19:00 hours. I was approached by Tarzan Mandizvidza (general manager productions and TV services) to do a Madlela series for ZBC-TV after he had seen the work that we do in South Africa … He felt it proper to give us a platform. Season one is playing but work on season two will commence soon.
Q: You are known to be based in South Africa but lately you are always in the city, have you relocated?
A: No not really. I have not relocated. My family is in South Africa and I commute between the two countries as I do projects in both countries. I am here because of the demand for shows and if people say this is what we want, who am I not to grant them that. We are embarking on a tour dubbed “Sizweno Sizwe” which simply means it’s time our people gave us an ear as we are just as good as the South African artistes they exalt so much…give us a chance and see if we will fail to quench your thirst for quality entertainment. Let there be pride in our works as their sons and daughters.
Q: Tell us your future plans in the arts industry.
A: My future plans are plenty but my wish is to make an impact throughout Zimbabwe. I want my music and all my works to be listened to as far as Karoi, Muzarabani and Zvimba. I am told there is only one artiste from Matabeleland who managed to do that — the late Solomon Skuza. I am not sure how far true that is… Richard Ndlovu, the famous Bulawayo choreographer highlighted that to me and then I realised that we have a long way to go as artistes from Matabeleland but I believe a dream never dies.
Q: Can you share with us a bit of your personal. For example, are you married?
A: I have beautiful wife and two kids. My boy is called Boithabelo Molekane Ndlovu and the girl Bontle Putso Ndlovu. We hope to add the last born soon. I am a family-oriented guy. God loves family and family keeps me grounded as they remind me who really I am despite the attention that I regularly get outside there.