Imbongi Kazulu chants his way to glory

BULAWAYO – Dumisani Mhlanga, better known as Imbongi Kazulu, has been in the arts industry for some time. Despite his contribution to the arts sector the dub poet feels he has not been accorded the recognition he deserves particularly on the local arts scene.

This week the Daily News on Sunday’s Jeffrey Muvundusi spoke to the dub poet. Below are excerpts of the interview:

Q: Who is Dumisani Mhlanga?

A: I am a creative worker, born some 42 years ago here in the City of Kings. I specialise in poetry, acting, dance and music.

Arts is all I live for, arts is a way of life to me. In addition, I am a karateka who holds a senior belt. I am also into farming on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Above all, I am a humble, caring and God-fearing person.

Q: You are popularly known as Imbongi Kazulu, how did this name come about?

A: The name Imbongi Kazulu came from the people due to the fact that I speak on issues that affect the people through poetry. In other words, I am a voice of the voiceless. Literally it means the people’s poet.

Q: Tell us about your love for poetry?

A: Poetry is a God-given talent. I communicate and express myself through it. I send peace, love, reconciliation and educative messages.Through poetry, I condemn what is ungodly, I humanise the demonised. I raise the fallen. I remember and respect where I come from.

I am a poet for a purpose. To me it has become part of my life, which if all being said and done I can’t do without.

Q: At one point you were engaged by MDC president Welshman Ncube as his praise poet, tell us about it?

A: I was engaged by Welshman Ncube, the president of MDC when he realised my potential as an artist. I wooed people to his rallies who were attracted by my talent and the way I displayed our culture. As an African leader who values his roots, people realised his passion for his culture and amassed behind him.

Q: Besides being a stage poet, I understand you have also released music albums?

A: True, I released an eight-track album Wangen’ uZulu Ommyama on the day Saddam Hussein was hanged with my group UZulu Omnyama. I made many other albums which of course were released because of various reasons some politically.

I also partnered with artists based in the UK namely Sylvester popularly known as Silo, Ramadu in Australia of lnsingizi Emnyama and Mthakazelwa Nyathi, a solo artist based in the Northern Cape.

Q: Tell us about the Highlanders FC track you did with several  other artistes?

A: I partnered with Kuxman; Nkwali in the song that was produced by Joe Maseko titled Bayethe Tshilamoya. This was, however, not my first collaboration on a song dedicated to Bosso.My first one was last year, titled Bosso at 90 which I did with Cont Mhlanga’s wife Thembi Ngwabi.

Q: In your poetry you seem to be inspired by renowned South African dub poet Mzwakhe Mbuli, have you guys met before?

A: Definitely, I have met Mzwakhe and Solano and we are in constant touch.

Q: Recently you were invited to Botswana for some festival, tell us about it?

A: The event was an annual cultural festival called Sibanye Cultural Festival. They promote arts and culture. I was privileged to be one of those who were invited. They just called me, I never applied and to me it shows that I exist in the arts industry. Besides I was also nominated for the best poet award and I was blessed to scoop it.

Q: I understand you are also into dog breeding, when did it start and how?

A: I have always been a dog lover but I started breeding them professionally in 2013. This is a passion that I have always had since childhood. I am a natural dog lover and that forced me to later pursue studies in animal husbandry.

I breed the following breeds: Jack Russell, Boer bull, Great Dane and Rottweiler. I have sold these to politicians, doctors, lawyers, and businesspeople and other people who have a passion for dogs.

I have achieved a lot from breeding and selling dogs. One of my cars is as a result of this project.

Q: What’s your favourite dog?

A: My favourite breed is the Rottweiler; it’s obedient, vicious, territorial, strong and brave. It’s also very active and agile and that suits what I think an ideal dog should be.