Mr Sandile Madlala graduated with a Bachelor of Arts honours degree cum laude for his research into Maskandi as a subcultural phenomenon in South Africa and its participants ‘communication’ practices.
‘The specificity of my interest in the Maskandi subculture was its fandom culture, as it is the fans, who manifest as a religiously distinct and large communal corpus of listeners actively constituting the power, which has given rise to Maskandi,’ explained Madlala.
He believes that the social benefits of his research will contribute to a better and deeper understanding of the inner workings and socio-political logic of the Maskandi music fandom culture.
‘When anyone bears witness to the city of Durban or Johannesburg being descended upon by 20 to 40 000 men and women, dressed in overtly precise colours and traditional attire singing in concert, they should be able to tell if it’s simply another workers strike, a political gathering or if Mthandeni Manqele, popularly known as “Igcokama elisha” is passing through en route to an interview at SABC studios with his fans,’ said Madlala.
During Madlala’s student days he travelled to school by train from the Doonside train station in Amanzimtoti to Berea Station in Durban. ‘On any given day when I stepped into the train’s coach I felt like I was being whisked away into a discourse of alternative reality as I encountered various rural Zulu cultural influences assailing my suburban nurtured psyche, from the traditional healer marching to and fro broadcasting the prowess of his medicinal concoctions, to the Nazareth church ‘Shembe’ evangelist advocating for the return to one’s ancestral reverence and the veneration of Zulu culture.’
This experience underpinned Madlala’s motivation to attain a better understanding of the resilience and morphed state of Zulu-ness as it manifests in the 21st century, ‘One of the undeniably strong off-springs of Zulu culture has been Maskandi, a music subculture born out of the desire for migrant labourers to express their inner pain and turmoil against the emperors of the morbid ideology of apartheid and also as a desire to sustain their connection to their rural roots,’ he said.
Madlala, who will be pursuing his masters, thanked his family, friends and supervisor Dr Anusharani Sewchurran for their support and guidance. ‘I did this degree to honour my parents. My father taught me the value of courage. I wish he could see his hard work and encouragement bear fruits and to my mother, from who I learnt the power of discipline and resolve.’
His advice to other students: ‘Don’t look too far for research inspiration, but rather the life experience of your immediate society and demystify if for the world to appreciate it.’