Zahara: A Classical Tragedy In c~minor

17 May

Bulelwa Mkutukana, Zahara to many, has serenaded her way to our hearts with her iconic voice and soul-stirring ballads. Her charming smile, “pleasant” and “simple disposition” and the Xhosa accent have also endeared this beautiful musician to many.
The fact that Zahara hails from a province that nobody seems to have heard of, government included, is just another addition to her expanding colourful badge collection.
It comes as no shock then that her personal financial affairs should elicit as much interest as the national fiscal.
When a provincial department wants to join in the foray you must know it’s going down.

Meteoric Rise

Spinach(Zahara’s other stage name) seemingly shot out of nowhere to the dazzling lights of stardom.
This has been work long since bubbling under as she was honing her craft in the underground scene according to a tv special I watched but cannot remember.
Suddenly “Zahara” was the buzz word/name in many conversations. She was the nation’s darling overnight.
Zahara’s success as a story teller and musician can be seen for example, in a taxi where a good part of the taxi happily sings along to her songs with the fans coming across the demographic divide. It’s a marvel to behold.
Of course this would be a fabulous rosy picture had cd playing in the taxi not been a pirated copy, which brings me to my next point:

Zahara’s popularity was insaaaane! “Loliwe”, her debut single, was soon replacing the entire fourteenth chapter of John (any version of the bible will do) in popularity.
It was disturbing and hilarious even that few people had given much thought to the meaning of the song. I was and continue to be met with blank stares each time I ask for the meaning of the song. This is funny because the song is in isiXhosa, my home language. I digress.
Zahara was and is suddenly the hottest thing around but in the meantime pardon me while I sprinkle fairy dust all round…



Zahara’s popularity was soon proving to be a liability. A dear one at that.
Hundreds of thousands of rands’ worth of her work was shamelessly looted by enterprising geeks and lapped up by an excited fan base who either unwittingly bought pirated cd’s and those whose consciences have long since been numbed by the daily struggles to keep it together. The irony that they are ripping Zahara right off to the bare bone is totally lost to the adoring fans. When the story broke of Zahara’s pirated work there was little sympathy from the adoring throngs and instead snide remarks and dry jokes were made about Lusanda(of the Lusanda Spiritual Group~notorious for taking on illegal music vendors) and those that sympathized did so in an attempt to purge the guilt of having purchased a pirated copy or to still the determination to purchase one in the very near future in spite of the general prevailing rebuke and condemnation.
To own a Zahara was en vogue period.

I suspect Zahara is also popular for all the wrong and far from flattering reasons. Much has been said of her “simplistic demeanor”, “humble persona” and other epithets that the Glam establishment coins so they can feel good about themselves. This has largely worked to her advantage. Most people don’t take very well to divas you see. Divas stir up all sorts of insecurities in their female fan base and intimidate the balls off the men until some campaign is hatched to bring them to their place with much aplomb. Pronto! The earthier you sound and look in Glamourville the longer the shelf life of some shell-shocked lass from Back of Beyond. The humble earthy look has done wonders for the likes of Siphokazi, Tandiswa, Erykah, Simphiwe and the legendary Busi Mhlongo.

The Goose That Lays The Platinum Egg

Apparently, and this is a very big “apparently”, Zahara’s recording company and management are not doing good by her. You will find a link to the detailed story below.
What drew my interest to the story was Zahara’s consistently worded denial. I heard her speak on umhlobo wenene fm- (twice) and on safm – and on both occasions she used the same words. Almost verbatim. Left me wondering though.
South Africa has seen a lot of artists die as paupers after recording moguls apparently horde the takings and the poor desperate and often uneducated artists languish in silence for fear of being “cut off” from the game and mich worse from the scene, and the glamorous illusion is exposed for what it is, an illusion, posthumously.

Chronicles In Song

Zahara’s music, I suspect, is by far and large a chronicle of her life….in c minor. It is raw, pure and angelic. It is honest and she makes no attempt at being pretentious.
I shall gush no further, I promise.

After the hype has died down I do hope Zahara will be appreciated for the mastery of her craft and not just played for the sake of owning a “zahara”. It would be tragic if people have not realised that Zahara’s music, just like classical music, is not just to be listened to, but savoured.

The song Destiny is prophetic in it’s lyrical content. It’s almost like a predetermined response to a predicted inquiry into her life.

Talent in shovel loads, an adoring and yet in some sick twisted paradoxical way parasitic fan base, allegations of being hoodwinked by her employers(few were surprised at this) and a loud silence on her love life(and I suspect soon our local sludge pages(tabloids in other countries)will be dishing the dirt on how much of a threat she is to Mrs Ncinza, in between tokoloshe sightings in Limpompo and talking goats in Transkei), Zahara fits the archetypal tragic heroine to the T. I hope the script doesn’t get any more exciting, for Zahara’s sake.
I haven’t seen a South African musician riding on such a tsunami wave of support within such a short space of time. I’m thrilled for Bulelwa but somewhere deep in the recess of my soul I am frightened for her. Hers is a vicious and cruel industry.

Below is a link as reported by the Sunday World on Zahara’s financial state and wealth.—sisters-believe-nciza-is-ripping-her-off
And for good measure

Stay blessed, stay inspired, stay true to yourselves and do stay in love.



Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


One Response to “Zahara: A Classical Tragedy In c~minor”

  1. philiswa May 18, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Yey_weve taken on the writing world_well done.

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