4 Community Impact after his first release
7 His music and poetry
Johnny Dimba was born and stayed at No. 24 Davison Crescent in Malvern before the Group Areas Act of 1966 was in place. His family then was moved to KwaMashu when he was 13 years old. He spoke fluent English and Hindu before starting school because at Malvern their neighbours were Indians, Coloured and Whites. Indians were moved to Shallcross, Coloureds to Wentworth.
Johnny Dimba currently stays in Umlazi with his wife and two sons. His parents are Michael Sello Dimba and mother Edith MaKhumalo from Inkandla. His grandfather came from Tanzania in the Island of Pemba to South Africa as a builder specialising in building Catholic churches and cathedrals. That is how his family ended up in Malvern.
After completing his matric, Johnny Dimba went to Johannesburg and worked with Mr Masikana who was the manager and the founder of the heritage group i.e. Thwalofu namankentshane, Special Five and Maxwell ‘China’ Mngadi of the Soul Brothers. Johnny worked as an Artist and Reporter Manager. Maskandi music was his first love in music and he decided to write his own songs and record his only music record which is still selling after 24 years of its release. His record was released in the same week as Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special.
Community Impact after his first release
Johnny Dimba’s community in kwaMashu, after releasing his first record were not that surprised because he was already working in the entertainment industry and television. He was the presenter for TV2 in Johannesburg and he was the first person in KwaZulu-Natal to work with Abigail Kubheka (Jazz musician), Sugar Share and Disco Jive. Most people when they realised that he had a degree in law and was a maskandi singer were surprised. Maskandi music at that time was mostly associated with uneducated people and there was that contrast.
Currently, Johnny Dimba holds three degrees in law and focuses more on arts and culture. He has his own music studio at home. Nobody in his family followed in his music footsteps. His first born holds a BCom in Sports Management and is working for the Department of Arts and Culture, his second son has a degree and is working for SAPS and his wife has a Speech and Drama degree and worked for the Department of Education as a school inspector.
Johnny cites a failure of differentiating between arts and culture as heritage, and arts and culture as economical empowerment as the biggest problem especially in KwaZulu Natal. This leads to most musicians dying poor because people who are passionate about culture they just do it for the sake of the culture and people who are clever can identify a gap to do it for economic reasons.
Johnny Dimba started a business foundation where they offer starter packs to cultural industries e.g. music, performing arts etc., the basics of what should you do to develop policies. He also approached the national government but it took 10 years to be recognised. In January he was invited by Minister Lulu Xingwana to go to Paris and in March he went to England in his personal capacity and now is working with the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers. He is currently educating, developing policy, lobbying for the government to recognise arts and culture as part of poverty alleviation and job creating.
His music and poetry
Poetry plays a major role in Johnny’s music. He recognizes Professor Ottie Nxumalo as his inspiration to poetry who wrote a poem called “Bathandekile” which had 42 pages – Johnny still recites it to this day.
Quoting from “Bathandekile”:
Mfana ngizwa ngikuthanda
Ngizokuxoxel’ indab’ ongayibuzanga
Ukuze mhla wehlelwa ngefananayo
Ungagabadeli ngokwedlule ngob’ umhlab’ ukwehlule
Akekh’ Keph’ udl’ imihlathi uyindoda
Waz’ ukuthi baningi
Asebedlule kukho kwabehlula lokho kobe sekumshikashika
Ngizwe kahle ungaphuthi
Angibhekisile inhliziyo emuva
Kepha ngizokuqalela indaba phansi uyizwe ngothi lwayo
Yokusukela mhla ngelamela uBathandekile
Ngambona maqedane ngamtusela ekudeni ngamthanda
Ngabon’ ukuthi akafanele mina
Ngangingakaze ngimbone onjeyana umuntu
Amehl’ afana nawengane
Lapho sengigobe izinkophe
Yabuy’ imicabango yalokho
Yal’ ukhash’ inhliziyo ngaze ngafisa ukuzigodlela
Ngathi ngiyaqinisela ngiyachaza
Ukuthi lon’ izwe lonke liyakuthini
Nxashane lizwa ukuthi uklebe lo
Johnny encourages young and upcoming entertainers that education is important, there is no direction, no future without the school. Entertainers need basic education to know where they stand.
*Ed’s note: Sadly Johnny Dimba died in 2015 at the age of 61.