Despite being a major English-speaking country, South Africa has historically not produced too many breakout music stars. Compared to the U.S., U.K., or Australia, very few of their national music stars have made a significant impact on the wider world of music.
Probably the most established group, as well as the most recognized and generally successful, is the hard-to-define, award-winning, Mafikizolo. Despite not charting internationally, they have listeners across Africa and now Europe and the U.S. and they have been seeing their international reach growing every day.
The Basics About South Africa
At the very bottom of the African continent, South Africa is a curious mixture of cultures, sharing elements of African, British, and Dutch legacies. Even the language, Afrikaans, is a mixture of languages that sounds similar to modern Dutch but with heavy African elements.
While not famous as a leader in world technology, the country has many modern industries such as those around web development, digital infrastructure, and online casinos. As with everything else in the country, each of these does things in a different way from the rest of the world. Taking that last example of casinos, for example, you get sites like Yebo Casino providing online slots in South Africa with a library containing entirely different games from those that European or American casinos would have.
This propensity for mixing cultures and unique twists on the standard lent a lot to Mafikizolo’s creation, with the duo bringing entirely new sounds that blend soul, pop, house, and the local kwaito styles in one place. They also integrate multiple languages into their work with a basis in Zulu but also include Swahili and English lyrics in some songs.
The group originally debuted in 1997 and made a major impact from the start as a pure kwaito group. Despite tragically losing one of their founding members, Tebogo Madingoane, to a road rage shooting in 2004, the now-two-member Mafiki have gone on to reach beyond their 25th anniversary as of 2022 with 12 studio albums in their discography, as well as a full U.K. tour in 2013 which covered multiple cities and cemented just how big of a presence they have abroad.
The duo’s style has shifted away from just kwaito over the years, now integrating aspects from other traditional South African music genres including Afro-soul, and also working with rap and hip-hop artists on occasion for a broad library of work. Their latest album Idwala, released in 2022, has already made a major impact on the local scene, adding to the massive pile of awards and award nominations the group has received over the years. They are also one of the few groups from the country to get international recognition, with a nomination for Best African Band at the MTV Europe awards.
Recently, they’ve been touring within South Africa and still look as active as they ever did, meaning that we can expect that total of 12 albums to increase a few more times in the future. With new influences entering the scene all the time, Mafikizolo aren’t short of new ideas for the future!