Theo Kgosinkwe, together with Nhlanhla Nciza, form the Afro Pop group, Mafikizolo. Theo won a South African Music Award in May for Best Afro Pop Album for his first solo project, I Am. This is The Truth About Theo:
Born: August 15, 1973
Home Town: Kagiso, South Africa
Marital Status: Married to Rose
How did you get together with Nhlanhla, and your late band-mate Tebza?
I met up with Nhlanhla first. I worked in a youth group in the township and we used to mime and imitate other artists. We also did the gumboot dance in the township hall. But I really got very tired of doing that, I felt we had no real direction.
I missed one of our performances and a guy who went to the gig came back and told me there was a new girl called Nhlanhla who was very good and insisted I must see her. She lived not too far from me and I made it a point I met her.
I had an idea of starting something new, to write songs for other artists. I thought I would never be a musician. So we had to have our band in order to record some of the songs we wrote, and when we did a demo on a track called Mafikizolo, someone who had performed with Thandiswa Mazwai of Bongo Maffin said he would make us meet Oscar (Mdlongwa) from Kalawa Jazmee.
He listened to demo but because they were pushing other projects, I think at that time it was Alaska, he said he would get back to us. After a while, we got the call. He brought us in and said he thought we needed a third person in the group, and he introduced Tebogo (aka Tebza) to us, and that’s how we got together.
How did the name Mafikizolo come about?
A mafikizolo is someone who comes to the township and pretends to know everything. We used to see those a lot and people would just say ‘uzositshelani wena, ungumafikizolo!’ (What can you tell us, you are just a mafikizolo). So I had written this song called Mafikizolo, and when Oscar listened to it, he said ‘you guys are going to be called Mafikizolo, that’s the name of the group’.
You guys went for a 1960’s style, was that a conscious decision?
We were doing a bit of RnB and that sort of stuff, but a friend of ours who was familiar with the industry said ‘just do one kwaito song’. Our first project was no so successful, and we had to try something very different.
Oscar was doing an advert for Coca-Cola and they wanted something from the 1960’s. Oscar asked if I could write a song for the 60’s and I wrote a song called Marabi and it was so good and it dovetailed with what we wanted to do. It also gave us a very unique image; we started dressing 50’s and 60’s. So that single incident gave us an image. We started building on that concept and it is an image that is carried over in all our albums.
Some music critics thought Nhlanhla’s solo album was too close to the Mafikizolo sound, undercutting the group. Do you go along with that?
I think to be fair to her, she is too familiar with the Mafikizolo sound. I cannot talk for her because it’s ultimately the decision of her record company what she puts out there. But I can understand why she would incorporate some bits from Mafikizolo, so that she carries over her fan base. Destiny’s Child is a good example of that.
For Nhlanhla to sing solo, it was something that we spoke about, but I felt it came too soon. We were planning a Mafikizolo album and she just dropped the solo idea. But singing solo doesn’t mean she is saying bye-bye to Mafikizolo. It’s a personal decision she took. It has always been in her mind. She felt she was ready at that particular time.
You also followed with your solo album last year, how was that received?
The reviews were good and I won a SAMA, which is great. I realised the best way to proceed would be for both myself and Nhlanhla to do solo projects, then refocus 100 percent on Mafikizolo when we would have had our exposure as solo artists.
I released the album under my own label Black Diamond Records. I want to know more about the business side of things and start to grow as a business person. The idea, ultimately, is to help other budding artists. There is so much talent out there.
What other career choices did you consider?
I am a real estate investor. My wife is in the property business. It’s something that we are very passionate about. I am looking forward to so many things now that I have my first album out of the way. I want to go strong on merchandising and we now have our own range of T-Shirts. There are so many opportunities.
What’s the worst job you ever had?
When I was at university I worked part-time packing and unpacking VHS videos which would then be sold to different retailers. So we had to put different sleeves on the videos and the boxes were very heavy.
The manager there was very bossy. It was a nightmare. I always came back from work dirty. Imagine having a supervisor, who shouts ‘come on don’t be lazy’, and you are young and just had freedom (independence) and you still have these people bossing you. Deep down you are like: ‘I know you pay me, but I’m not in that era of my grandparents and you can’t be talking to me like that.’
Have you ever been attacked by an animal?
When I was younger and we were sent to the shops we would intimidate this huge dog at one of our neighbours’ houses, then run away when it started charging. We did it this particular day and my friends ran before me. It came after me and bit me on my backside, my trousers was torn badly. I have bite marks on your bum, so I guess I can never forget it. Now I just don’t wanna take chances with animals.
What's your least favourite thing about yourself?
I wouldn’t say I am in patient. I know I panic under stress, and it irritates people a lot. I am not relaxed under pressure.
What are you most afraid of?
Maybe I should tell you what I am not afraid of. I am not afraid of failure, because when you fail, it is not the end of the road. It just means try again, a second time around you will do better.
I am not afraid of death, because I feel that once you are right with God, then you don’t become afraid of death. There is nothing that I should be afraid of except God.
If your house burnt down, what prized possessions would you save?
My bible, laptop, Play-Station and my music awards. I am hooked on soccer and boxing on the Pay-Station, so that must survive. My trophies are very valuable to me because they are a sign of achievement and what I have been through.
What’s your idea of a sexy woman?
She must have nice legs. You know Chinese legs? Not kiss-kiss, but amagwegwe? Chinese girls have curvy legs and that does it for me.
She must not have big tits with implants all over, but they must be very firm, not small but medium size. Must have beautiful lips, very kissable lips and beautiful eyes, that’s important. She has to be intelligent, and someone who can make me laugh.
Must not be too serious, it must be someone who can be my friend at the same time. Must not be overprotective, because I am not a jealous type of guy who would get upset when my wife says ‘that guys is hot’. She must have an open communication, talking is important. (Interview by Mduduzi Mathuthu)