Zimbabwean revellers at Metro Restaurant and Bar in Braynston in the posh neighbourhood of Sandton, Johannesburg, on April 7 had some nostalgic moments when Sibonginkosi Tshabalala, better known as Mr Prince, took them “back to Bulawayo” during a performance at the joint.
By Sindiso Dube in Sandton, SOUTH AFRICA
Mr Prince, a Zimbabwean singer, songwriter and producer based in South Africa, was backed by his band when he gave a vintage act at the launch of his album titled Mixed Feelings at a colourful ceremony in Sandton.
The launch, which drew a full house — mainly of Zimbabweans and locals — affirmed how Zimbabweans living across the Limpopo miss home.
Mixed feelings, a soulful 11-track album, has mixed themes ranging from love, hatred, poverty, suffering, loneliness, selfishness, cruelty, dishonesty to family.
A homesick Mr Prince told The Standard Style that he wishes to see a better Zimbabwe so that he can come back and re-unite with his friends and relatives.
Eyami Ingqondo, Don’t Touch, Cry Bulawayo, Ngiyakukhumbula, Ngiyakumbula Abazali, Ngedwa Mama, Bamangwato War Song, Happy Birthday, Ngilamulela and Dudu are tracks making up the album.
Cry for Bulawayo is a plea for the once productive and industrious city of Bulawayo. The city is now a pale shadow of its former self, with some factories having been turned into churches while others have been abandoned.
Ngikumbula Abazali is an emotional song where an individual who has been around the world looking for a better living, doesn’t remember the last time he was with his parents. The hardworking Zimbabwean misses his parents, friends and Bulawayo as a whole.
The song Ngiyakukhumbula is a love track where one laments for their missing partner.
Mr Prince described his album as a personal cry for his “beloved Bulawayo”.
“This album is about how I feel about Bulawayo. Having witnessed Bulawayo’s glory days’ it is a shame to see what it has been brought down to. People leave Zimbabwe every day in search of a better living and live sorrowful lives in foreign countries,” he said.
“As one enjoys the music in my work, let us also take time to reflect on our work in this world and endeavour to do good at all times in our different societies. Let us diffuse our mixed feelings towards each other with love regardless of colour, race or creed.”
Mr Prince was born in Mawabeni village, Umzingwane in Matabeleand South province, where his musical journey started 12 years ago. He led church music groups at his Seventh-Day Adventist Church, but his love for musical instruments led him to join the Flaming Souls Band at the Apostolic Faith Mission Church joining his friend Goodwill Dlamini, who now plays the lead guitar for South African diva Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
In 2005, Mr Prince moved to South Africa where he teamed up with his friend Dlamini and joined ex-jazz Impacto bassist Robert Zimba to form a group called Africa Life.
Both Dlamini and Zimba have since left the group, leaving Mr Prince fronting it and is backed by instrumentalists from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe. The popularity and unique appeal of the group saw them performing at Mohlakeng Stadium during the 2010 World Cup.
Their debut album titled Ngilamulela, which was released four years ago, is a fusion of western and African music, creating a rare sound that has a wide appeal to both cultures.
Mr Prince has worked with Nigerian guitarist Kunle Ayo on some of his albums. He has written and produced well over 50 songs, which mostly reflect on his life journey in the African Diaspora.
Spurred and inspired by legendary musicians such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Lovemore Majaivana and the late Freedom Sengwayo, Mr Prince says he is bound for greater heights on the international and African music scene.