On: Esinako Ndabeni and Sihle Mthembu

Esinako Ndabeni and Sihle Mthembu talk to Helen Herimbi about finding the rhythm to pen their first book, Born to Kwaito In the 15 months that student and blogger Esinako Ndabeni and journalist and film-maker Sihle Mthembu have been crafting Born To Kwaito, they have only physically been in the same room twice. “We met on Twitter,” said Ndabeni, who runs Don’t Call Me K***ir, the popular blog named after the chorus of Arthur Mafokate’s 1995 song. “Sihle was starting a podcast about kwaito and wanted to have me on it. After a while, he was like: ‘yo, I haven’t read a book about kwaito so how about we do this thing?’” Six months after they agreed to be co-authors, the Pretoria-based Ndabeni and Durbanite Mthembu met for the first time at the Pretoria National Library, where they researched magazines together for the book. For this interview, the pair appear side by side on my laptop screen for a Skype chat. Ndabeni’s purple lips are a half moon pointed south and her eyebrows are furrowed as Mthembu starts to speak. He isn’t half way through his sentence when she is compelled to apologetically interrupt: “Sorry… who is playing music?!” Whitney Houston belting out Didn’t We Almost Have It All bounces around Mthembu’s half of the screen and Ndabeni is not having it. “You’re not vibing?” Mthembu asks his co-author, with a chuckle. “No,” she says. “It’s making me nervous.” I joke that Mthembu should ask the sound system controllers to play kwaito instead, but in hindsight, I realise the pair might need a break from a genre – a culture, really – that they’ve been engrossed in for over a year. They tell me about what it took to get to the point where essays that cover topics that see kwaito intersect with politics, fashion, language, film as well as portraits of kwaito architects are bound in a book that hits store shelves and online stores this week. “I wanted to write something on people who were one-hit wonders, I wanted to do something on the relationship between kwaito and Read More …