Madala Kunene has always done things his own way. Despite both of his parents being academics, Kunene refused to attend school and instead spent his childhood busking on the Durban beachfront, playing his own version of Maskandi guitar on an instrument made out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut.
Kunene was born in Cato Manor in 1951, but moved to KwaMashu when his family were forcibly evicted by Apartheid forces. His life has been very much influenced by South Africa, both in a good and a bad way. A supremely talented artist, Kunene’s success has often been restricted by the problems back home. In the 1970s Kunene had to return to Durban from Johannesburg after his family home was burned down during political violence. With his movements restricted by Apartheid laws and a family to protect, it was that much more difficult for Kunene to achieve the international success he so obviously deserved. On the other hand though, Kunene celebrates Zulu culture, combining blues & soul with African folk, to create a unique trance-like quality of Zulu folk singing, and it’s no doubt that his experiences in South Africa play out through his magical music.
Kunene has achieved great success both in South Africa and overseas, but he remains one of Durban’s greatest treasures continuing to thrill local audiences. So the next time you see a poster for the king of Zulu guitar, don’t miss out – it really will be something to remember!
Madala Kunene will be playing at The Upstairs on Florida Road on the 21st and 29th March 2014.
Click here to read more information about the life and times of Madala Kunene.