- Category: PA 2004
Mzwakhe Mbuli Popularly hailed as ‘The People’s Poet’, began his career in the 1980s by performing poetry at Trade Union and Cultural events as part of the struggle against the apartheid government in South Africa. Throughout this period, he was repeatedly detained by the authorities. His first album Change is Pain (1986) was banned, as the government feared its ‘influence on revolutionary groups’. Having captured the attention of mass audiences in South Africa , his international career began in 1990 in Berlin when he shared the stage with Youssou N'dour, Miriam Makeba and Thomas Mapfumo. A string of successes followed, involving work and associations in the UK , in New York , France , Holland , Norway , Sweden , Denmark , Germany and Japan . A major recording deal followed with CCP/EMI in South Africa , starting a brilliant creative relationship with foremost South African producer, West Nkosi.
In 1994 Mzwakhe was called upon to introduce Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his inauguration. In 1996 Mzwakhe was invited to London to co-host with British poet and activist, Benjamin Zephaniah the Two Nations Concert at the Albert Hall to honour President Mandela on his visit to London . Later in the year he returned to the UK to join Peter Gabriel, Youssour N'dour and other prominent African artists to record the fundraising Aids Album. As his stature as an artist grew, he was invited to meet and perform for the many international artists who began visiting post-apartheid South Africa . Set on an outstanding career path, Mzwakhe Mbuli was convicted in March 1999 for armed robbery and possession of a hand grenade – crimes he has consistently denied committing. Held at the Leeuwkop Maximum Security Prison, until his release in November 2003, he has recently released Mbulism, a hard-hitting and energetic production that strongly registers Mzwakhe Mbuli as one of the few poets in South Africa who has single-handedly been able to capture the attention of up to 150 000 people by the sheer power of the spoken word.