Mzwakhe Mbuli, known as "The People's Poet", is a popular South African poet and mbaqanga singer. He was born in
Sophiatown in 1958, but his family was forced to move to Soweto when the government bulldozed his home town.
His works include a book of poems, Before Dawn (1989), and albums Change Is Pain (1986), Unbroken Spirit (1989), Resistance and Defence (1992), and Africa (1993). His poems are mainly in English but draw on his native Zulu as well as traditional praise poetry and rap. His best-known poem is Change Is Pain, a protest piece about oppression and revolution, which was initially banned. His first performance group was called "Khuvhangano".
Throughout the 1980s Mzwakhe was repeatedly detained by the authorities and denied a passport to travel while playing a leading role in the Cultural activities of the United Democratic Front. His international career began in 1990 in Berlin, Germany, when he shared the stage with Youssou N'Dour, Miriam Makena and Thomas Mapfumo. An imposing figure, standing well over 6 foot tall, he performed at the funeral of Chris Hani, the assassinated head of the South African Communist Party, and at the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994. In 1996 Mbuli was invited to London to co-host, with British poet and activist Benjamin Zephaniah, the Two Nations Concert
at the Albert Hall to honor President Nelson Mandela on his visit to London. Later in the year, he returned to the
UK to join Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour and other prominent African artists to record the fundraising Aids
Mbuli was convicted in March 1999 for armed robbery and possession of a hand grenade - crimes he has consistently
denied committing; he and his supporters have always insisted he was framed by the government for speaking out
against corruption. He was held at the Leeuwkop Maximum Security Prison, until his release in November 2003. His
most recent release is Mbulism.
Controversial at times but always compelling, Mzwakhe Mbuli is known as "The People's Poet" from his days in the anti-apartheid struggle. These days, Mbuli deploys his original way with words and gift for melody with great success as a recording artist who isn't afraid of voicing his opinions. 2007 sees Mbuli work with Sello "Chicco" Twala, the producer responsible for many of the late Brenda Fassie's biggest this. The combination is a potent one and the release of Mbuli's next album is hotly anticipated. Titled 'Thunder (Ladum' Izulu)' it's vintage Mbuli and is already being lined up for an international release.
Charismatic people's poet Mzwakhe Mbuli' and his glorious hard-swinging band are the new successful phenomenon on the South African scene. Renowned for his outspoken commitment to freedom and justice, Mzwakhe's uncompromising lyrics are set to classic highly-charged township music which has captured the hearts and imaginations of both urban and rural communities. Resistance is Defence contains powerful music and songs that reflect not only important South African issues and concerns, but also a universal message of freedom, justice and democracy.