Jah Kongo, the African Warrior recently released a tribute song to the Rastas who passed on to the ancestral lands. It was a tough and strenuous year for him but he is now ready to put that behind and focus on the way forward in the new season. The pint sized warrior with a big heart is getting ready to launch Jah Kongo merchandise, release an album and shoot videos for his successful singles and of course the annual JKPT [Jah Kongo Pon Tour] 2016 will be in the town near you. He will be unveiling all this at his upcoming 4th edition of JK Street Bash, which will have a different vibe this year, as it is all about Jah Kongo and the focus will be around the JK Brand. Below is an interview he did with Mzansi Reggae touching on topics like the DMR Awards, his Football Club and Queen Sheba Entertainment.
How did you become Jah Kongo?
Jah Kongo, whose real name is Mandla Qotsini aka Ras Judah, De Afrikan Warrior was crowned by the elders growing up in the Rastafari movement. The name Kongo derives from King Shango the King of the White Cloth from the Congo.
At what point did you decide that you would like to pursue a career in Reggae?
From Day one I started as a Reggae – Kwaito – Dancehall Artist, my teacher was a dancehall artist. Reggae music has always been my first love. Reggae music changed my life, so I told myself that one day I must also use Reggae music to change people’s lives give them hope for a better tomorrow. It was when I become a devoted Rastafarian and got inspired by Reggae music. Jahkongo ngumntu wabantu [people’s person] I speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, I am a serious Rastaman and I promote love, equal rights and justice among the nations.
Can you separate Jah Kongo the Artist from Mandla the man?
You can’t separate the two Jahkongo the artist and the man are two in one. Those that know me personally would tell you Jahkongo is for the people.
How do you manage to stay relevant in this fragile Reggae scene?
I make music to inspire people, in my music I talk about social issues and stories that people encounter on a daily basis. Its our duty as musicians to keep people motivated, inspired and joyful in that way our music will stay relevant, cause the truth will never get outdated. I don’t make music for hype or fame. I make music to give people hope hence am doing Rock steady music.
What keeps you motivated?
King Selassie I is my motivation and my faith is my salvation. Seeing the youth happy and joyful when am on stage keeps me motivated to write more soul uplifting songs.
You have recently released a single ONE DAY, give us the background on that?
One Day is one of the song that is close to my heart its a tribute song for my older brother and a couple of friends who passed away. When I was writing that song I was in a bad space it took me time to finish writing it, finally when I was done I felt like I needed a beautiful voice to sing the chorus and I thought of Bella Velapi. I could hear her beautiful voice singing “One Day sobuya sibonane Lala ngoxolo will always love u” When she arrived at the studio she fitted like a glove in hand, she didn’t even waste time to voice and the rest is history.
Mzansi Artists are not big on videos, why do you think its like that?
I think its caused by the lack of funds, with that said we need more videos as Reggae artists in South Africa for our music to grow and reach the level it deserve to be in. Yeah!! You can expect to see a lot from JK this year. I ‘ll be shooting videos for Deliver Me, One Day, PE Gyalz, Mountain Top and Uyas’thanda. 2016 is the year for us to shoot more videos I know a lot of artists will be busy.
Twice you have attended the Reggae Dancehall Awards and received awards on behalf of your peers in Cape Town, what is the general feeling in Cape Town about the awards?
There is a lot skepticism towards the awards, yet at the same time they are applauding the move and have a lot of questions. Brothers are not really voicing their opinions about the awards they just ask questions. Personally I love the idea of the awards and am fully behind it, but we really need to get everyone involved. There are artists/selectors/promoters in the North West, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KZN; we must have a way of knowing them all to be able to determine who did the best job in what category. If we could have people in all 9 provinces involved our awards can grow trust me.
Tell us a bit about Queen Sheba Entertainment. What is it and who is behind it?
Queen Sheba Entertainment is a community based event and artists management company established in 2005 headed by a dedicated team of hip, outgoing and creative individuals. Queen Sheba Entertainment has been in the event and entertainment business for several years and aims to be the leading event and entertainment company through excellence, creativity, innovation and customer focused service. The members are: Mandla Qotsini, Queen Sheba Ngewu, Andiswa Ngewu, Wendy Duma and Ras Gold.
And the Jah Kongo football club…
Me and my friends started a team and decided to name it JKFC [Jah Kongo Football Club]. The team was established in 2014 and this year we gonna be playing in the lower league of SAFA Western Province (Lingelethu Football Association) I am running the team with Lunga Dlangudlangu former Mother City and Ajax player, Terror Fanteni former Mother City, Ajax, Orlando Pirates, Wits and Maccabi Haifa FC player and Elder Daniel one of de most skillful Rasta’s I ‘ve ever played with.
What ever happen to Empire Gyals, are they still managing you?
I think they are still around pushing their mission I haven’t heard from them in a long time now. No!! I stopped working with them in 2014 , but am still in contact with the “Boss Lady Rosita”
Your opinion about the reggae dancehall scene in South Africa?
Honestly I think the artists are working hard now its the time for the selectors to start playing more local music its been long over due. We also need Government, Corporate Business and the media to come on board.
What are you currently working on?
Am currently busy working on a new single’s and later in the year I ‘ll be releasing a 14 track album titled (What For). I am also busy with the boys (JKFC) preparing for the new season.
Which artist would you like to work/collaborate with and why?
Locally I would love to work with Angolah Maseko, James Mange, Trevor Hall, Azania Band and Mama Phumi Maduna. I grew up listening to these people and working with them would be an honour. Elder Trevor is one of the most wise people I ‘ever met and reasoned with, so I would really love to work with him. Internationally I would love to work with Queen Omega one of my favorite female artists, Richie Spice, Mighty Diamonds and Von Benjamin.
Which do you prefer; live performances or studio work?
Live Performance is always the best I enjoy seeing people singing along to my songs. Studio is also my favorite, cause that’s were it all starts.
What have you got in store for us in 2016?
I ‘ll be launching JK T-shirts, Caps and Hoodies. More shows, more collaborations, more music, more videos and JKPT2016 will be coming in your town.
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