How Zahara showed me I’m a hypocrite


Zahara singing at the Durban Jazz Festival

I use to be one of those smartasses who proclaimed I like music with deep meaningful lyrics. Zahara’s highly successful debut album showed me I use to be a dumbass, because I found myself so moved by one of the tracks (Legoma) on the album and I don’t even understand a word she’s singing.

Sure I use to try to sing along to Ediath Piaf even though I mostly don’t know what she’s on about. I’ve also grooved to Spanish Ska like that of Ska-P, but with Zahara it’s completely different.

I can feel what the song is communicating, but I still don’t know what the lyrics mean. I don’t think I want to find out, because my heart has already decided.

Zahara says she has known suffering and this shows (or sounds?) through her music. The 25-year-old singer née Bulelwa Mkutukana comes from Phumlani village in the Eastern Cape. Her mother was a domestic worker and Zahara taught herself how to play the guitar. In some of her songs she expresses a great love for her guitar and her music, saying it always offered a great escape. When life gets you down and people disappoint you, you’ll always have your guitar.

For those who doubt her statistical awesomeness, here are some numbers to consider. Her debut album Loliwe went platinum in 13 days and double platinum on the 17th day after its release last year. The DVD she released earlier this year, The Beginning, was one of the fastest-selling DVD’s in South Africa and went platinum in three days. She also won eight South African Music Awards (SAMAs) this year.

Loliwe consists of mostly highlights. It’s easy listening and as Bongani Madondo says in one of the first South African editions of Rolling Stone magazine, it’s the kind of music you want to listen to when your by yourself and no one can see you get all emotional. She uses more than words to move you, and for that I’d like to say thank you Zahara.


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