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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Bongeziwe Mabandla excited about heading back to France as he announces amaXesha tour

Bongeziwe Mabandla has built a cult following since his 2012 debut, 'Umlilo'.

France’s role as coloniser of a handful African countries mean a strong connection with the continent and this is particularly palpable in Paris where there’s a large contingent of the African diaspora.

This is the same reason why Mzansi muso Bongeziwe Mabandla enjoys performing in the European country more than any other place outside of South Africa.

“I enjoy playing France, I feel there is deep appreciation for what I do there. The French are welcoming of African musicians and there is a very strong diaspora in Paris that I enjoy a lot,” Mabandla tells The Citizen.

Mabandla said he wants to spend more time in France this year. The South African recently shared his amaXesha tour itinerary, which is in support of his album of the same title that was released in May 2023.

Life on tour

This isn’t Mabandla’s first European tour, but part of the tour includes playing shows in New York, which will be a first for the artist who first came on the scene as an actor.

“It’s my first New York show so it is a special one because I have been wanting to bring my show to the US for so long,” said Mabandla.

The Eastern Cape-born musician said he and his team had been waiting for booking in the North American country and decided to do it themselves.

“It has paid off because that show is now sold out and we are planning for the next one already end of 2024.”

The independent artist has a cult following since releasing his debut project Umlilo in 2012; such is the following that he tours in spaces that some of South Africa’s biggest signed artists can’t play.

“We have had different approaches to everything and I think it’s starting to pay off. There has been a lot of work in the background to make things happen. I’m just very fortunate to have people around me that take me and what I do very seriously,” averred Mabandla. He credits his management team, Black Major, for the inroads he’s made.

Being on tour can be lonely and frustrating for some artists, some even becoming homesick. But Mabandla said technology has helped, in the times where the heart longs for home.

“I can miss home a lot but thanks to WhatsApp video calls and being able to get online, I get to experience things easily from a distance so I don’t feel a disconnect from what is happening at home,” he said.

His workout routine is what gets interrupted the most when he’s on the road.

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Writing process

While some artists need to get into a zone, post touring, for their writing process Mabandla jots music while on tour if inspiration hits, he is also aided by traveling with his producer, Tiago Paulo.

“When an idea comes through I can put myself in a bubble to develop it further and that can be on an airplane, backstage, in a sound check, etcetera.”

amaXesha was his fourth album and was a follow-up to 2020’s iimini and the project has been well received by ardent Mabandla fans, and those outside of that collective.

“This album, like its title, I feel represents a time to everyone. This album, I feel, challenged me and a lot of people to really think about who they are. These moments in my life will be characterised by these songs,” said the singer.

The album’s opening track Sisahleleleni was remixed by House producer Ntokzin and Mabandla said he supports other artist’s interpretation of his music.

“I love experimenting with sounds and I love taking a song of mine to a place I didn’t think it would go,” he said.

“Ntokzin’s version of Sisahleleleni is different but equally as beautiful and moving. People have loved that it catered to an Amapiano ear while keeping the integrity of the original version.”

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