Who Was Mandoza, South Africa's Kwaito King Who Died of Brain Cancer?

Mandoza
South African musician Mandoza poses backstage at an MTV Base event in Johannesburg, on April 20, 2005. The artiste died on Sunday after a battle with cancer. Naashon Zalk/Getty Images

Just nine days ago, South African kwaito legend Mandoza performed at a national concert, despite his family announcing days earlier that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

The 38-year-old singer, whose real name was Mduduzi Edmund Tshabalala, told the audience at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto that he was there to perform "to show you that [the] devil is a liar" and went on to deliver a high-octane performance, albeit with the support of family and friends who assisted him on stage.

The September 10 concert was to be Mandoza's last live performance. The musician passed away on Sunday after falling ill on Saturday, sparking tributes across South African society for a well-loved performer. President Jacob Zuma said the country had lost one of its "pioneers" who "achieved the unique crossover culturally to be enjoyed by both black and white South Africans." Others, including opposition leader Mmusi Maimane, took to social media to remember the musician, who pioneered the kwaito genre—a type of uniquely South African house music emerging from Johannesburg in the 1990s.

Born in the Soweto township in Johannesburg, Mandoza is best known for his hit song "Nkalakatha," which was released in 2000 and attracted listeners across the racial divide in the country, which had only abolished apartheid six years earlier. Yet his early career was also dogged by controversy and scandal. In 2003, he was admitted to a rehabilitation center in Cape Town after admitting a cocaine problem that saw him squander thousands of rands on drugs every week.

In 2008, the singer was involved in a deadly car accident, in which two people were killed. Mandoza was found guilty of two counts of culpable homicide and given a suspended sentence. In the late 2000s, the musician became increasingly reclusive and largely withdrew from public life, marrying his wife Mpho and having three children.

Earlier in September, Mandoza's family revealed that a cancer he had been treated for in 2015 had metastasized to his brain. The singer's family had said they were hopeful he would pull through, but his son Tokollo Tshabalala remained philosophical after his father's death. "I'm just happy that my dad died a proud man because he had everything he wanted in life. Every time he'd tell me that he never got a chance to spend time with his dad, so all he ever wanted was to raise his children," Tshabalala said in an interview on Monday.

Who Was Mandoza, South Africa's Kwaito King Who Died of Brain Cancer? | Culture