- Category: PA 2006
Zolani Mkiva, Hailing from Idutywa in the the Eastern Cape, Zolani, the co-ordinator of the Poetry Africa Izimbongi ZaseMzansi Program, rose to prominence in 1990 when as a young Imbongi he was called upon to praise the recently released Nelson Mandela at a Welcome Home Rally in the Transkei. Consolidating this role, Mkiva was then appointed I mbongi Yesizwe , or ‘Poet to the Nation'. Zolani completed his BA degree in Social Science at the University of the Western Cape in 1994, followed by a BA (Hons) in Development Studies in 1996. He was the praise-singer at the inauguration of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela as President in 1994; becoming at this point the President's Poet Laureate. He served as master of ceremonies for the international conference of writers at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin , participated in numerous local and international events (including Poetry Africa 2000), and worked with Salif Keita, Bayete, Angelique Kidjo, Papa Wemba and Ismael Lo, among others.
Zolani released his first solo album Halala South Africa in 1997 and followed this with Qaddafi in 2000. In 2004, he was one of the 3 finalists at the World Tournament of Town Criers in England.
Zolani is acknowledged as the National Praise Singer, and Royal Poet to the Republic.