Hillbrow pair record CD while homeless

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

For the past four years Mthokozisi Madlala and Bhekani Buthelezi have known no other home than the harsh streets of Hillbrow.

Now the two have recorded their own CD. Madlala, 20, who is also known as Masaka, and Buthelezi, aka Beezet, 21, came to Johannesburg from Durban, where they also lived on the streets for three years.

Aptly titled Isakalami - my rag - the CD symbolises the two young men's hopes of leaving the streets.

"We decided to call it Isakalami because 'umasaka' is someone who wears rags, is poor and disrespected," says Madlala.

"Life on the street is hell," he continues, "you learn all the bad things like drugs and stealing. Also, there are other risks such as abuse, rape and all sorts of bad things."

The duo recorded their CD at Fuze Studios in Spruitview, Ekurhuleni.

Buthelezi says: "Dumisani Ngcobo [who produced Dr Love] helped us a lot to put this master copy together."

They say their challenge is now to get a recording deal.

"We are appealing to anyone who can help us to please come on board," says Madlala. "God gave us this talent and we believe we have to use it fruitfully."

The 10-track CD is a mixture of Afro-pop, hip-hop, maskandi and kwaito.

They say the message they are trying to send to the public, especially those who had written them off, is: "Never let problems keep you down."

"When people see you on the streets they just assume you are a criminal. Not all of us are involved in bad activities," says Buthelezi.

Madlala says he left his home in Inanda in KwaZulu-Natal because his mother and stepfather were abusive.

"They beat me like an animal," he says.

He then decided to leave home to stay with neighbours.

"I used to sell copper wire in order to bring something to the family I was staying with," he says, "but when I could no longer make money, they kicked me out."

He then went to live on Point Road in Durban, where he stayed for three years, before moving to Hillbrow.

Buthelezi, who is from Kwa-Mashu, says he left home to look for work but ended up on the streets.

The future stars say they would like to appeal to parents to stop abusing their children because child abuse is the main contributor to the increasing number of street children.

They say the perfect Christmas present would be a recording deal to help them get off of the streets faster.

"There is a lot of talent on the streets, but we lack support. People must know that living on the streets does not mean your mind is stale," says Madlala.