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Sunday, February 16, 2020


(Madala Kunene)

The Centre for Jazz and Popular will present the first Twosday gig of 2020 with the legendary Madala Kunene on February 18, 2020.

Madala Kunene was born in 1951 in Cato Manor and later moved to Kwa-Mashu Township after his family was evicted by the Apartheid government. Despite being born into a family of eminent academics he hardly spent time in school signalling his uniquely unconventional nature and his single-mindedness. At the age of seven, he made his first guitar out of tins to entertain people on the Durban beachfront leading to his popularity in the townships.

Kunene was discovered by Sipho Gumede and moved to Johannesburg where he worked with ‘Songamasu’ Band which shared stages with the likes of Doc Mthalane, Shawn Philips, Mankunku Ngozi and Busi Mhlongo. He returned home in the mid-1970s, to protect his family’s properties upon violence which had erupted, thus offering him the opportunity to hone and develop his craft while playing low-key gigs in and around the townships. He later introduced the “Madala Line”, a style of guitar which fused blues, soul with Zulu folklore despite pressures to play western styles.

Madala’s international recording career took off in 1994 when participated in the legendary Outernational Meltdown recording of the label B&W Music that brought Airto Moreira, Jose Neto, Byron Wallen and Andrew Missingham to Joburg and Cape Town to collaborate with local artistes. His first international solo album was released in the year 2000 titled Kon’ko Man and subsequently joined forces with Swiss guitarist Max Lässer during the second edition of the Outernational Meltdown recording for the album Madamax. He later released a second album titled Bafo.

Kunene has performed on several international stages in Europe, Asia and America with artists such as Brazilian legend Airto Moreira, Cuban master Changuito, Mabi Thobejane and Cameroonian drummer Brice Wassy. He has also collaborated with the late Syd Kitchen, Greg Georgiades, Ernest Mothle, Ashis Joshi, Ntombe Thongo, Indian legend Debashish Bhattacharya, Hugh Masakela and members of Kwani Experience.

Since 2014, Bafo (as he is affectionately called) has been working with Forest Jam in Switzerland with his long-standing friend Max Lässer teaching traditional music. He has continually been touring, performing around Southern Africa with the Forest Jam Band. The band has performed in such festivals as Sakifo in the Reunion Island and its sister event in Durban.

At the Centre for Jazz, Madala BAFO Kunene will be joined by Njabulo Shabalala on percussion and Sthembiso Ntuli on saxophone.

The concert takes place on February 18, 2020, at 18h00 (doors open at 17h30) at the Centre for Jazz and Popular music (CJPM), Level 2, Shepstone Building at UKZN Howard College Campus. General admission R90 (R60 pensioners, R30 students). Contact Thuli on 031 260 3385 or email for more details.