Is Busiswa Africa’s finest?
SHE may have been born in Mthata, but bubbly Busiswa Gqulu, better known simply as Busiswa, and a nominee for best female act at this year’s MTV Africa Music Awards (Mamas), is very much a Durban girl at heart, having grown up here.
So she is doubly delighted that, on July 18, Durban’s International Convention Centre will host the big awards bash, where she will be hoping to scoop the award.
It is her first MTV Africa Music Award nomination, she says during a quick interview, a few minutes before she is due to visit a dentist.
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but I honestly did not expect this nomination. I was expecting, maybe, next year, after I push my album, but now that I am nominated, I want to win this award so badly,” she adds.
Other nominees for Africa’s best female act are fellow South African Bucie, Tanzania’s Vanessa Mdee and Nigerian acts Seyi Shay and Yemi Alade.
A spoken-word artist and poet who has made the Top 200 Young South Africans list compiled by a local newspaper, Busiswa is greatly looking forward to performing in Durban again this weekend.
She is among a stellar line-up of South Africa’s hottest urban artists and DJs who will headline MTV Base’s first Road to Mama event, a party tour that will be crisscrossing the continent in the build-up to the awards ceremony.
The tour will be launched at 47th Avenue Lounge, 47 Intersite Avenue, Umgeni Business Park, Springfield, Durban, on Saturday. Thereafter, the party moves on to Lagos and Nairobi.
Doors open at 9pm. Tickets cost R150 and are available at the venue and at Computicket outlets.
Headlining in Durban with Busiswa will be Best New Act nominee and Tsiki Tsiki star Duncan, Durban rapper Aewon Wolf and alternative hip hop act WTF.
Hitting the decks will be Song of the Year nominee DJ Fisherman, as well as Benny Maverick, Junior De Rocka and DJ Feel.
“I will be doing a medley of my songs as well as one or two covers with full choreography and dancers,” says Busiswa, who last came to Durban a month ago, to visit family, and last performed here at the Metro Music Awards.
Highlights from Road to Mama Durban will premiere on DStv’s MTV Base at 5.30pm on Friday, July 10, and on DStv’s MTV at 8.05pm that same day.
After the Durban gig, Busiswa – also known as Kalawa Chikita, a name she took when she was signed up by Kalawa Jazmee Records – has a London trip planned.
Now based in Johannesburg, she arrives in Durban after gigs in Port Elizabeth and Botswana.
Although raising much interest with her hit 2012 collaboration with DJ Zinhle, My Name Is, the success of which promoted her move to Gauteng, Busiswa has been entertaining for many years.
She first performed poetry in 2004, as a Grade 11 schoolgirl at Mowat Park Girls’ High in Montclair.
Her performance poetry journey started when she joined the collective Young Basadzi Women of Poetry in 2005. Since then, she has performed across various stages, including the National Arts Festival, Cape Town National Youth Festival and Durban’s Poetry Africa Festival, where she first performed in 2010.
Described in her biography as “a new-age performance poet and singer”, Busiswa has been a support act for singers Tu Nokwe and Siphokazi. She has also shared stages with Mak Manaka, Gcina Mhlophe, Ernie Smith and Concord Nkabinde, among others.
Career highlights include performing at the Malibongwe Dialogues, held in 2008 as part of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations, and her poetry being featured on a CD compilation titled Sounds 031 – Best of Durban Women.
Using her poetry as a means of reaching out across various platforms, Busiswa has also featured as a poet on numerous community and radio stations.
She has also worked for Art for Humanity (AFH), where she provides workshops for schoolchildren, as a means to help develop an appreciation for poetry and the visual arts.
Her development work has also involved working with the Department of Education’s Umlazi district youth development office, tutoring pupils in public speaking, debating and performance poetry.
Asked to name career highlights, she laughs and replies: “There have been a lot, my goodness. But my first awards, for my first solo single, Ngoku, made for a very proud moment. Then, of course, there is this latest nomination, which I hope will become another award.”
Although the Mamas are taking up a lot of her attention at the moment – she is still figuring out what she will wear to the awards, and is holding thumbs that she will be asked to perform at the ceremony – it is business as usual for Busiswa.
“I am trying to finish my album and choose a single… and I’ve also done a feature with Tumi and The Volume, so look out for that,” she says, rushing off to the dentist.
Durban-raised recording star Busiswa performs in Durban on Saturday, and stands to win an MTV Africa Music Award on July 18.