Born Zibokwakhe Johnstone Mnyandu in 1963, Phuzekhemisi, is widely acknowledged as the king of the indigenous music genre maskanda.
Among the few musicians from KwaZulu Natal to draw on the social ills that plague rural society, his nickname “Phuzekhemisi” translates as “drink the medicine” – reference to the sometimes unpleasant truths contained in his work. The title track of his first album, Imbizo, a collaboration with his brother Khetani, landed him in trouble with both traditional leaders and SABC bosses for questioning chiefs for frequently calling meetings where the villagers were expected to pay impromptu “taxes”.
Throughout his long and prolific career he seems prone to anger one or other party through his songs. He was banned by the apartheid controlled South African Broadcasting Corporation, and has the distinction of having his life threatened by supporters of both the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party due to his outspoken opinions in the volatile early 1990s.
As he speaks the language of the common person, his multitudes of fans have remained loyal to him. His music is relevant to their life experiences and he is rightfully dubbed the “people’s voice”.
Picking himself up after the devastating loss of his brother in 1993, Phuzekhemisi has gone on to release many platinum selling albums and has made numerous trips abroad, exposing the maskanda style to a global audience.
Despite successful sales of his albums, Phuzekhemisi chooses to live a humble life in his traditional homestead in the rolling hills around Umkomaas.
An outstanding performer and writer, exceptional ambassador for this uniquely South African style of folk music and an astute and witty social commentator who is unafraid of pointing out the ills that plague his community, Phuzekhemisi is considered credible by those who hear him because he has never abandoned his roots.