Avatar photo

By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

‘The artwork is something I hold personal, that’s my history’ – DJ Tira on recreation of June 16 photo

The artwork is a recreation of an iconic photo by Sam Nzima that was taken on June 16, 1976 in Soweto.

In a move that might backfire on him, DJ Tira has recreated the iconic Youth Day photo by Sam Nzima of a dying Hector Pieterson carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo and followed by Antoinette Sithole.

“The artwork is something I hold personal, that’s my history, my story, my heritage,” Tira told The Citizen.

In his version of this historic photo, Tira whose real name is Mthokozi Khathi, is seen with the featured artists on his upcoming single, iNkululeko.  He collaborated with Heavy K, Makhadzi, Zee Nxumalo and Afro Brothers on the song.

Tira portrays Makhubo in the artwork, as he carries Zee Nxumalo who takes Pieterson’s place in the recreation while Makhadzi and Heavy K flank him on either side. Afro Brothers is behind Tira, albeit not fully visible in the shot.

“This serves as a reminder of what the youth went through for this country, yet we are the ones forgotten. Look at South Africa’s youth; highest unemployment rate in the history of this country, our leaders must be reminded and our youth encouraged,” averred the one-half of Durban’s Finest.

In 2015, Channel O found itself in a controversial row when it innocently recreated the famous image in the spirit of commemorating Youth Day.

In it, a young man is shown carrying his graduation attire with his seemingly proud mother beside him with the caption “Live the dream the Youth of ’76 died for”.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ngang Almighty (@babydlanga)

ALSO READ: Doccie on photojournalist Sam Nzima’s life to be screened at Joburg Film Festival

The song

Tira will release a iNkululeko, which means freedom in Nguni languages, on 1 March.

“I wanted a song that can talk to people in Limpopo and who better can help me there [than Makhadzi],” he said. He roped in Heavy K because he likes the three-step sound that the producer comes with.

The song is opportunistic to the political atmosphere in the country, with the 2024 General Elections set to take place on May 29.

“To build a single momentum takes time, why wait,” said Tira when asked why he chose to release the song now, instead of youth month.

“By the time we vote on 29 May, the song will be on everyone’s lips by then and by the time we get to June 16, the song will be a hit and people will enjoy it even more.”

No grudges

It’s been nearly three months since Tira fired his manager Senzo Shezi over embezzlement of funds and the flamboyant Afrotainment owner said he has forgiven Shezi, as he prepares to release the politically-inspired song.

“Senzo’s situation taught me to be more hands on,” Tira told The Citizen. “We have other employees at Afrotainment, my focus is to keep the team’s energy and motivate everyone focused.”

Shezi was fired for allegedly stealing booking money meant for artists at the stable.

“Mr Shezi was engaged in behaviour that is inconsistent with the standards and values of Afrotainment,” read the record company’s statement in December.

“At Afrotainment, we prioritise transparency, integrity and respect in all our business practices. The behaviour exhibited by this employee is not reflective of the values that we uphold. As a result, the decision has been made to part ways with him.”

 “I never hold grudges. Sengimxolele uSenzo [I’ve forgiven Senzo] and I have moved on, I worry about him but I hope he finds something to keep him going,” said Tira.

NOW READ: DJ Tira ends a 9 year relationship over misuse of funds

Read more on these topics

DJ Tira Makhadzi Youth Day

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits