Maskandi duo aim high

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

For the past few years, Abakwa-Mlaba have been one of the most exciting groups in African indigenous music.

Hailing from a province that has produced many successful maskandi groups, AbakwaMlaba is made up of brothers Mkhombeni and Skhumbuzo Mlaba.

The two brothers began singing at home in the rural area of Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1997, and hope to make a big impression in the music industry.

The maskandi duo have just released their fourth album, titled Izikweledu.

The album boasts an innovative mix of an old maskandi sound called Ushameni with a bit of mbaqanga. Izikweledu speaks about the serious issue of debt.

"In Izikweledu we look at the stresses that are caused by financial problems for people. We look at things that people do when they are in debt," Skhumbuzo says.

"Today's generation has its own definition of respect and it makes one wonder why it is so easy for young people to disrespect their parents. The song Ngiye Ngithule Ngicabange is about respect," Mkhombeni says.

In the song Ngithwele Kanzima they sing about the difficulties of raising a child as a parent.

"The song is about a woman whose husband was murdered and she was left with the responsibility of raising the kids and the pain she is going through," he says.

The group has worked with artists such as Madoda Ntshingila, Lahlumlenze Nxumalo and Phathaphatha Ngcobo in producing the album.

The Mlaba brothers compose the songs, and Mkhombeni says they are inspired by their personal experiences.

"We compose songs about things that are happening in society, and we also write songs that talk to the youth. We also look at things that affect the community at large. Through music we are able to share our experiences," he says.