From the streets to adored Maskandi idol
HE is one of the finest talents to have emerged from the Maskandi scene in ages.
Since Sakhile Mfuphi's foray into music he has built up a loyal and cult-esque fan base around KwaZulu-Natal.
But it is still baffling as to why Mfuphi's sound has not expanded beyond the confines of his native province. Mfuphi's music has the potential to appeal to the broader maskandi community.
He says his love for music began when he was a boy.
"As a shepherd, while looking after the village flock, I used to play a tin guitar that I made myself," Mfuphi said.
His journey to stardom has been filled with obstacles. After dropping out of school in Grade 8, Mfuphi left his village in Nongoma for the greener pastures of Richards Bay.
Mfuphi bought his maiden genuine guitar with the money he had made from his first job.
"I did not even send money home. My grandmother was furious. But I was proud that at last I could buy something I liked," he said.
In 2009, Mfuphi came to Johannesburg looking to further his career. He stayed with a relative he knew from back home. Unfortunately things did not go as planned.
"I faced a lot of hardships. The person I was staying with chased me out because I was not bringing in an income. I ended up on the streets."
He was discovered by Bhekinkosi Khuzwayo, who saw him playing his guitar on the street.
"With my dreadlocked hair, I looked like the late Mgqumeni Khumalo. That was what attracted Khuzwayo most to me. I played for him and he liked my style," he said.
The single father of two says he could not believe it when Gallo Music signed him.
Last year, he recorded his first CD, Ngikhanyisele, a 14-track album. The record has tongue-in-cheek songs and chants about justice and life.
He said: "The title was inspired by the hardships I experienced when I was on the streets. I am talking to my ancestors [in the album] to protect and show me the way."
Mfuphi's debut offering cracked a best maskandi South African Music Award nod alongside the genre's heavy hitters such as Imithente, Thokozani Langa, Mfiliseni Magubane and Phuzekhemisi.
He says that was the biggest achievement in his career. He adds that though most people don't recognise him yet in Johannesburg, he is a star back home in Emasokaneni.
"At home I am a celebrity. Whenever I am there people come to greet me and to buy my CDs. That is the only time I make money," he said.
"Things are still difficult for me. When I tell people that I am still poor, they don't believe me because they see me on TV," Mfuphi said.
Despite all of that, Mfuphi remains optimistic about his future.
"Who would have ever thought that one day maskandi would have its own awards? The genre is growing so rapidly that if old maskandis are sleeping, they will be overtaken by young upcoming ones. But the only problem is that our music is not marketed well.
"Maskandi is unique to us and it is supposed to be making waves overseas. But we don't have people who are passionate enough about it," he said - firstname.lastname@example.org