Mzwakhe Mbuli has been called by several monikers over his illustrious career and lifetime – artist, freedom-fighter and perhaps, the most endearing: People’s Poet. It is with his latest offering, Patriotic Love that he solidly re-embraces this title and delivers a product that speaks of inclusivity, joy and the power of God.
Mbuli has been the voice of the people for decades, and he has left a legacy that has firmly etched his name in the history books of our country. During those years Mbuli was a sounding-board, fighting for freedom and a political activist. But on Patriotic Love, his latest release, Mbuli embraces and includes everyone in our country with a message of hope and positivity. The album is warm, inspiring and entirely a-political. “There are things in the past that needed to be addressed,” Mbuli explains. “But, the past is behind us – so now we need to look towards the future. The message of Patriotic Love is not political – it is an inspiring, hopeful album that anyone can listen to and enjoy.”
Patriotic Love is a sweeping collection of music that inspires and uplifts – a great deal of the content is specifically inspired by and aimed to inspire athletes. Mbuli was moved to write the title track for Bafana Bafana during the World Cup – addressing the team, telling them to win for Madiba, for their countrymen and for South Africa. Even though the team didn’t win, the powerful message of this track remains relevant and inspirational. The track motivates people to keep running when they are tired – a clear parallel than can be applied in day-to-day life.
Similarly, the heart-wrenchingly beautiful track, Caster Semenya speaks about the young athlete’s journey, and the public humiliation she suffered at the hands of the gossip-hungry public and the insensitive way the media handled her. Still, this harrowing experience did not cause her to falter – she remained strong, survived and carried on. Rebecca Malope features on this moving track that even left the musicians who worked on the album in tears after the first recording.
Mbuli has always included a Gospel-track on his albums in the past, reflecting his divine love for God. On Patriotic Love, he deepens this deep expression of love for God on standout tracks like God The Best and Thank You God – wherein he exalts God and praises Him – the maker of his life and his talent.
“This album is a healing balm for the soul, rejuvenating the listener. Someone who might feel like they are at the end of their rope need only listen to this album to find hope and the strength to carry on,” explains Mbuli.
Patriotic Love is a natural progression for Mbuli, who has amassed a slew of achievements over his long and successful career. This prolific artist was one of the original founders of the Crown Gospel Awards, and he still feels passionate about Gospel artists. He instituted a post-humous award for the Gospel legends that have passed on – to ensure that we never forget their legacy in the form of the Siyabakhumbula Awards. He also designed the logo for the Congress of Traditional Leaders, toured the world and performed across the globe. On this album, all of Mbuli’s life experiences culminates in a powerful message of hope.
Still, Mbuli remains as committed to love, inclusiveness and non-racialism as he ever was. In a letter sent to him by Madiba, he says “Dear Mzwakhe, I would like you to know that you are loved and respected beyond the borders of your home town. Kindest regards and best wishes. Yours sincerely, N.R. Mandela.” This message was a beacon of hope for Mbuli, who received it when he was incarcerated in 1989. Years later, on the 31st of July, 2002 Madiba paid him a visit in Leeuwkop-prison, bringing him a gift of fruit and flowers. This turned out to be an early birthday-present for Mbuli, who was born on the 1st of August. In both these instances, Madiba’s presence imbued Mbuli with courage and hope – and a will to carry on.
On top of all Mbuli’s achievements he remains as relevant and as busy as always. He is currently part of the SAMA-winner and Loliwe-hitmaker, Zahara’s Phendula-tour.
He has also always been a nurturer of undiscovered talent – he personally gave The Soil massive exposure and a large platform when he secured them for performance at the Gallagher Convention Centre for the 2010 Siyabakhumbula Awards.
This spirit shines clearly on Patriotic Love – an epic album with some of Mbuli’s strongest and most inspiring work to date. He summarises this message by saying that “You are wiser if your own pain does not make you blind to the pain of others.” Wise words spoken by a wise man. Mzwakhe Mbuli remains forever the voice of the people – and he anoints all people of this country with the deeply engendered message of love above all else on Patriotic Love.
Patriotic Love is currently on shelves across the country.
For more information on Mzwakhe Mbuli, follow him on twitter: @MzwakheMbuli