Mzwakhe Mbuli, a devout former Deacon at Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Naledi Soweto South Africa, known as “The People’s Poet, Tall man, Mbulism”, is a popular poet and mbaqanga singer in South Africa. 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 (Shifty – 1986), Unbroken Spirit (Shifty – 1989). 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 until growing pressure forced South Africa to allow more freedom of speech. 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 Makeba, and Thomas Mapfumo. An imposing figure, standing well over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, he performed at the funeral of Chris Hani, the assassinated head of the South African Communist Party, and at the presidential inauguration 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 Album.