Nothembi bares soul to fans

MULTITALENTED: Queen of Ndebele music Nothembi Mkhwebane. Pic. Kopano Tlape. 12/07/07. © Sowetan.
MULTITALENTED: Queen of Ndebele music Nothembi Mkhwebane. Pic. Kopano Tlape. 12/07/07. © Sowetan.

Sipho Masombuka

Multitalented Queen of Ndebele music and world-renowned folk instrumentalist, Nothembi Mkhwebane, soars to new heights with every album she crafts.

Speaking to Sowetan at her home in The Willows, Pretoria, the 1988 Woza Africa Foundation Award winner (USA) and 1995 Femina/NNTV Woman of the 90s said her new album, Igama Ngilisebenzele, ("I've worked hard for the name") reveals the reason behind the collapse of her marriage to the late Limpopo traditional healer and polygamist, Elias Mnguni.

On track 6, Basele Nazo, on the 11-track album, Nothembi, 54, cites jealousy and conspiracy by her ex-husband's first wife as the main reason for the collapse of her marriage.

"My marriage was like that of a princess and I was welcomed by my in-laws.

"This did not go down well with my husband's first wife. She colluded with my enemies to cause trouble and ultimately drove me out of my marriage.

"On this track, I am asking what did she gain by destroying my marriage," said Mkhwebane.

Mkhwebane said the reason she is now revealing the reasons behind the collapse of her marriage were because she wanted to show her fans thatshe too is as human as anybody else.

"Good and bad things do happen to me as well," Mkhwebane said.

The album has been released, distributed and marketed under her own recording company, Nothembi and Son Records. She co-owns the company with her musician and teacher son, Maduma.

Two albums of the late Ndebele music icon Joriyo Ne Phororo, aka William Mahlangu, were released by Nothembi and Son Records.

New releases under the label are AboMma Besizwe, Vuk'zenzele, Siphapha Emoyeni, Amakhosikazi Amahle and Abomma BeKwekwezi.

Nothembi is preparing to release her biography and a DVD soon. In October, the singer will celebrate her 20th anniversary in the traditional music industry.

"I came to Pretoria during the 1980s and worked as a domestic worker while trying to break into the mainstream music industry.

"I was illiterate and fell prey to unscrupulous record company executives. Today, I am proud to tell my fans that I will be completing my music degree through the University of South Africa soon.

"I am inspired by other women out there. I hope I am also an inspiration to millions as well," said Mkhwebane.

The honorary 1999 South African Music Award winner said her goal was to found a cultural village to open job opportunities for crafters and performing artists to take full advantage of the 2010 World Cup tournament.