Bongani Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
PERHAPS his stage name Bekezela aptly describes his life’s journey in the music industry as the long wait for a break seems to be over for Afro Soul musician Bothwell “Bekezela” Nkomo.
The Gwanda-born Zimbabwean is making a mark on the South African music scene with his hit song Bekezela, being given heavy rotation on major radio stations. The word bekezela is isiNdebele and means patience.
He has released one of the biggest songs in that land which has found home also in Zimbabwe following the footsteps of fellow record label artistes, Nathi and Vusinova of Mutharland Entertainment/Ghetto Ruff Records.
During the week, Bekezela gave his fans a sneak peak of what the song was all about with a music video clip on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The music video to be released soon features fellow Zimbabwean, socialite, Mbo Mahocs as his love interest; this fittingly blends in with why he wrote the song. He left his loved one in Zimbabwe for a better life in South Africa.
After graduating from Amakhosi’s school of performing arts in Bulawayo nine years ago, Bekezela left for South Africa months later for the proverbial greener pastures, with a dream and hope to be one of the biggest artistes in South Africa. The former Ihlathi High School pupil felt that South Africa was the right place for him to make it in the music industry and his guitar skills learnt in 2007 would take him places.
Like many people, Bekezela left a loved one in Zimbabwe, to try to eke out a living in a foreign land. In the midst of xenophobic attacks, swiftly Bekezela learnt that he had to scrap it out with menial jobs here and there, but his eye was still on the prize and was writing music at the same time. It would take three years for a mini breakthrough in his career.
One of the jobs, digging trenches was in 2011, three years after he arrived in South Africa, was when Bekezela, at that time going by the name Bozoe, had his eureka moment.
Bekezela was born and the lyrics of the song he says were for his girlfriend he had left in Zimbabwe. The chorus says it all: “Bekezela, ndilinde ntombi yami, ndilinde, ngiyabuya dali wami (Be patient and stay strong, wait for me, I will be back, darling).”
He then recorded the song at a studio and it immediately struck the right cord and at that time it received considerable airplay on South African radio stations but alas, this was not enough because no one knew who he was.
This was a time that Bekezela gave up and left everything to fate for his big break into the South African music industry.
“It was the fact that I’d produced and released a good song, it received airplay in radio stations and became big yet I couldn’t make a decent living out of it.
“No one knew me, neither did they know whose song Bekezela was. I finally gave up pursuit and left it to the universe. My faith in that God was now in charge is what kept me going so I never stopped writing,” said Bekezela.
Leaving it to fate was the best decision that Bekezela made for himself as six years later everything lined up and fell into place.
This was after Sipho Nyathela, manager of Nathi Mankayi of the Nomvula fame heard his song at a listening in session and in no time he was signed under the label.
They then reworked the song and because Bekezela was unwearyingly writing songs for the past six years he was able to come up with a 12 track self-named album that was released last month.
Looking back, Bekezela said all he went through prepared him for what he was experiencing now.
“I don’t have much memory of it except that I was a student at Amakhosi Performing Arts Academy and soon after my graduation in 2008 I left for SA.
Yes, during my time as a student I would do showcases at the Township Square Cultural Centre but it wasn’t on a larger scale.
However, what I learnt at Amakhosi gave me a clearer perspective of the industry and market that I wanted to tap into hence my move to SA,” said Bekezela.
Now that he has received acclaim securing television and radio interviews and being booked for gigs around South Africa, Bekezela said he did not want to get ahead of himself with fame.
“I haven’t arrived by a long shot. There’s still work to be done. I want to see myself in international venues filling them up with solo shows. I want to headline all prestigious international arts and music festivals and fly the Zimbabwean flag higher,” said Bekezela.
Some wonder about the mystery woman who inspired him to pen such a touching love song but Bekezela is still secretive about her identity, only saying that their long distance relationship is still going strong.
The artiste wishes to one day perform in his home country. “I certainly would love to perform in Zimbabwe, that’s one of my ultimate goals. The performance will have some greats that I’ve met here in South Africa,” said Bekezela.