Creatives Under Lockdown is a SABC News feature, which focuses on issues affecting artists. This week musician Tribute Mboweni shares the story behind her collaboration with DJ Ganyani.
The song Tsokombela tells the story of a woman who is madly in love with a particular man. However, she is hesitant to pursue the relationship. Tsokombela is a Tsonga phrase that relates to sweetness and in the song, the woman expresses her sweet love towards the man.
The collaboration for the song began when musician Tribute Mboweni sent a message to renowned DJ Ganyani declaring her intention to work with him.
Two months after sending the message, DJ Ganyani sent her a beat, which she took just a couple of hours to write lyrics to. “What had happened was, a few weeks before I came back home I had dreamed of the song and fortunately I had been able to wake up and record the lyrics and the melody. And I forgot all about it. Weeks after I had come back home I stumbled upon it in my voice notes and I started writing the song based on the idea I had dreamed of. The beat that DJ Ganyani sent to me just fit perfectly.”
Born and raised in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga province, Mboweni cut her teeth at church. She was part of the youth choir and joined other singing groups in the church. “Until I started meeting musicians outside of the church and started experimenting with different kinds of music outside of gospel. And it was late in 2011 when I started performing as a solo artist.”
Her self-titled debut album saw her perform in some of the best stages in South Africa, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
The South African Music Awards nominee also shared her talent with fans in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and France. Mboweni says this has been the highlight of her musical career. “It has been an amazing journey and I have had a lot of great times on stage. Growing up, that is all I wanted to do.”
Her album also included a rendition of legendary Dorothy Masuka’s MaGumede. Masuka is one of Mboweni’s musical role models. “Her footprint in terms of her music, her songs, her writing is totally amazing. And it is far-reaching. She was a political activist and she did this through her music. I find it very inspiring how she used her music for activism,” Mboweni says of Masuka.
This month, South Africa is remembering the Youth of 1976 who fought against the apartheid regime. Mboweni says currently the biggest enemy the youth is facing is unemployment. “There are many of us who are sitting at home, unemployed, not because we are not skilled and not because we do not qualify for any jobs, but it is just hard to find jobs.”
The month is commemorated differently this year, without events, as the world continues to fight the battle against the coronavirus. Mboweni says she could not go on with some of the performances that were lined up. “A lot of the other works that I do as a singer, the writing, conceptualizing of shows, that has not stopped. I can still do that from home.”
Although she aims to continue collaborating with artists, her main focus now is to complete her Ph.D. in Anthropology.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT Tribute Mboweni
Q: Whose music do you currently listen to?
A: Currently, I am listening to a lot of Dobet Gnahoré. She is from the Ivory Coast. I really love her music.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I don’t do a lot of activities that I consider fun activities, outside of my work. And because my work involves a lot of traveling, I guess that’s fun because I really enjoy that. I also really don’t have a lot of time to fill with activities. So I guess travelling is fun but it is also a part of what I do.
Q: Which books are you currently reading?
A: Right now, I am a lot of ethnographies that have to do with my school work. Fortunately, I really enjoy them as well. So, currently, I am reading a lot of academic books and articles.
Q: How do you balance being an academic and a musician?
A: I unfortunately do not have a formula for balancing my life out. I mostly just prioritise what needs to be prioritised as things come. What I love about doing both is the fact that they kind of help balance each other out – because when I am really frustrated with the one, I can always turn to the other.
Below is a podcast with Tribute Mboweni:
Related: Part 1: Starving artist’ a more meaningful phrase amid lockdown
Related: Part 2: ‘I don’t know myself outside my world of acting’
Related: Part 3: Letshego Zulu on fitness under lockdown
Related: Part 4: Uzalo’s Wiseman Mncube shares his journey
Related: Part 5: Artists advised to spend prudently in order to survive rainy days
Related: Part 6: Thabo Malema on the new enemy, his dream and COVID-19