Best African Group
Kora All-Africa Music Awards 2001
Best Duo or Group
- South African Music Awards 2002
Best Group, Best Album
- Metro Fm Awards 2002
“Bongolution is about revolution."
It's the sound of South Africa today. The sound of the first generation of South Africans unshackled from the specter of apartheid. It's the sound of Bongo Maffin, one of the most popular groups in South Africa today, leading "kwaito" music into the future and across the planet.
WHILE other South African genres came to life in public gathering places such as churches, weddings and village gatherings, kwaito sprung up in the charged atmosphere of dance clubs floors. With apartheid successfully dismantled, South African youth in the mid 90’s began to embrace pan-national styles such as house, reggae and rap. With the pride of an emerging nation, however, they made the styles their own. The emerging style became known as kwaito (pronounced: kwite-o), local slang for "hot" or "dangerous." Kwaito performers included elements from many of South Africa's myriad pop genres. Kwaito soon became the soundtrack for a new generation with its own ideas, fashions and lifestyle.
Bongo Maffin came together in 1996, starting as a project of seminal South African kwaito deejay and producer Oscar. Appleseed was born and raised in Zimbabwe, but brings a distinct Shona and reggae flavour to the group's music. Stoan hails from Mmabatho in the North West Province, and is a Tswana language artist. Thandiswa, a Xhosa girl with roots in the Eastern Cape, joined in 1997 after working with them as a backup singer and studio musician. The group's expansive and spiritual take on the dance-oriented genre has been compared to the Fugees' broadening of American hip-hop. Their common passion for music has had a synergistic effect on their collective creativity.
The trio's music is firmly rooted in the rhythms of house music, but they incorporate ragga, reggae, dancehall, rap and contemporary R&B. The group, however, also gives props to their homeland, adding the sounds from South Africa's many homegrown genres: the bouncy beats of mbaqanga, gospel and the choral sound of iscathamiya made famous by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
kwaito, rap, reggae, mbaqanga, hip hop
"Bongolution" is the group's first international release on Sony/Lightyear Entertainment, and their fourth album, which finds them continuing to expand the boundaries of kwaito. "Twasa" talks of going through a rite passage while moving to a funky house beat. "Kungakhona (The Way)" embraces both township jive and contemporary electronic rhythms. "Brave, True & Strong" is currently South Africa’s soccer anthem, and is the second single from the album both at home and in the US.
With its unique sound and style, Bongo Maffin has already become the world ambassadors of kwaito, and toured extensively internationally. The group has been tapped for shows by international stars such as Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Skunk Anansie and Boys II Men. They also had the privilege to perform at Nelson Mandela's birthday celebrations. When the Central Park Summer Stage Festival series wanted to premiere kwaito music in New York City in 2001, the producers chose Bongo Maffin.
In 2002, following the US release of "Bongolution, the group completed a month-long coast-to-coast tour of the US, and performed at major venues and festivals such as the Hollywood Bowl, Reggae On The River, and Africa Festival in Detroit. Also in 2002, Bongo Maffin toured extensively in Europe, performing in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy, where the group represented Africa at the historic pro-peace "Time For Life" concert and TV-special in the Colosseum in Rome, in which artists such as Ray Charles, the Black Voices from the UK, Mercedes Sosa of Argentina, and Israeli singer Noa also participated.
In 2003, Bongo Maffin focused on Africa, and performed in several
countries, including Botswana, Mocambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe as well as in Tanzania. Bongo Maffin also travelled in the Indian Ocean islands, and performed at the "Nuits de la Ravine" festival in Reunion together with Senegal's Positive Black Soul, Mali's Issa Bagayoko and Cote d'Ivoire's Tiken Jah Fakoly.
However, the group maintained its presence in Europe through performances at the International Travel Fair in Berlin, the Cannes Film Festival, and headlining the Afro-Pfingsten Festival in Winterthur, Switzerland. Bongo Maffin closed 2003 with a rave performance at the 46664: Give One Minute of Your Life to AIDS Concert at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium, together with a host of South African and international stars such as Anastacia, Beyonce, Queen, Johnny Clegg, and Angelique Kidjo.
For Bongo Maffin, 2004 is a year during which the members will mainly
focus on individual projects. Appleseed (now referring to himself as
"Jahseed") is focusing on his DJ partnership with Andy Kasrils as Admiral
& Appleseed, performing weekly at Horror Cafe in Newtown, as well as their regular Sunday night slot on Y-Fm 99.2; Thandiswa has recently launched her debut solo album "Zabalaza" on the Gallo label, and maintains a hectic appearance and live show schedule; Stoan divides his time between producing young kwaito groups on his new Stoan AIG label, and presenting a new music game show on SABC2.
Still, the members are not too busy to come together for events of national significance (Opening of 10th Democratic Parliament, Cape Town 6 February; 10th Anniversary of Freedom Day at Union Buildings 27 April; 2010 Soccer Bid Announcement, Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown 15 May) or major Bongo Maffin projects, such as the "Urban Africa Club - Live from South Africa" tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland 25 May - 6 June.
The second half of 2004 will follow the same pattern for the Bongo Maffin members: individual pursuits will be mixed with forthcoming Bongo Maffin projects such as tours / performances in Tanzania (Ziff Festival, Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam), as well as Zambia (Livingstone). There are also further European tours and shows in the pipeline in August and October, including a recording and collaboration with popular German ragga / reggae group Seeed.
A new album is projected for early 2005, together with a renewed focus on the home market in South Africa.
"Everything that Bongo Maffin does is about consciousness," says
Appleseed. "Bongo is a musical representation of the ideas of the African
Bongo Maffin's singular mix of groove and spirituality, cutting edge and
tradition has already made them one of the biggest sounds on South African dance floors. Undoubtedly the world's dance floors are next.
Making Music Productions
Making Music Artist Agency
+27 21 422 0118 (tel)