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Awards for World Music 2007 - Africa
Bongo Maffin

Bongo Maffin album cover
Four years is a long time in the fast-changing world of kwaito. This home-grown style based on slinky house and hip hop beats spiced up with sundry local ingredients has dominated South Africa’s pop charts since the mid-1990s, but only a handful of its stars have showed much longevity. Even fewer have made an impact outside South Africa and its closest neighbours, but the curiously named group Bongo Maffin are one exception. Their fifth album Bongolution (2002) was the first to get an international release, and now they’re back after a four-year break ­with New Construction (2006).

Muffin or Maffin? No one seems quite sure how it became the latter, but if you’re singing in five languages, (Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Shona and English) a little thing like spelling probably doesn’t seem such a big issue. Maybe one reason for Bongo Maffin’s continued popularity is the fact that their music has never been just kwaito. It’s as much about R&B and reggae/ragga, as well as township grooves, and their lyrics are more concerned with spiritual matters than the gangster poses some of their colleagues prefer. Also, unlike most kwaito acts, they use a real live band onstage as opposed to DATs and the like.

Formed in 1996 in Cape Town as a trio of male rappers, the group gained their fourth member Thandiswa Mazwai the following year, later shrinking to a threesome when founder member Speedy went solo. Zimbabwean-born rasta Appleseed and rapper Stoan stayed on, and this is line-up they’ve kept ever since. After Bongolution, Appleseed threw himself into dancehall and roots reggae in club and radio sessions and Stoan started his own record company Stoan-Aig (and released a solo album which he claims Universal failed to promote). But it was Thandiswa who made the biggest splash with her 2004 solo album Zabalaza, which earned her three Samas (South African Music Awards) and a nomination in these awards the following year. She’s also the most obvious vocal star on
New Construction, a slick, confident and diverse modern African pop production, with more of a dub/club feel than before and even a touch of bhangra.

Jon Lusk

Bongo Maffin on the web
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Steven Afrikaner (Namibian Musician)
I'm a great fan of Bongo Muffin and having attended most of their concerts during my stay in Jo'burg between 2000-2004, I only think they are destined for greater heights.I love Thandizwa's voice and the fact that she believes in Africanism just like my big Heroin Brenda Fassie.Good luck with a unifying group!

Mark, London
I first heard Thandiswa Mazwai’s voice singing a solo number, 'Ndiyahamba', on an African sampler CD I bought at Heathrow Airport. I read that she was formerly part of Bongo Maffin, whom I’d never heard of before. I was so hooked on her voice that I made it a mission to find more of her music.I finally managed to acquire their ‘New Construction’, ‘Concerto’, ‘IV’ and ‘Bongolution’ albums – and I felt like a scientist discovering a new species of organism: A precious gift stifled by the evil of apartheid. When I feel below par, this music makes me feel superhuman.

Fiona Glastonbury
Great, inspiring,joyfull very uplifting

I'ma Nigerian living in London. I've just discovered this group and their wonderful music only for a couple of weeks. I must say that they make me extremely proud to be African. Even though I dont understand the words or languages in most of their songs, I still feel like dancing. I'm proud to be black, I'm doubly proud to be African.

nolubabalo South Africa
ohh!i just love bongo maffin and the combination of the different cultures,in thier music is so wonderful.

Heather, Vancouver, BC
There's nothing like the energy of South African music - you've just got to move with it. Thanks BBCfor arranging for others to share the joy!

lethu jhb
brilliant, thats all i can say

Tatenda, Columbus OH.U.S.A
Bongo Maffin's music is so uplifting, so danceable, and so African. They have to be the best African music group that I know.

i will see them soon in Paris...i will see every word with them. until the cops come knocking.

maaike, Netherlands
Love it!!! no other words for it, it just makes me smile the whole day.

I am a huge Bongo Maffin fan. The fact that they manage to merge different languages into one song is rare. Kura Uone is a brilliant song & you do not need to be a speaker of any of the languages used in the song to feel the vibe.But for those not in the know, Kura Uone means "grown & you will see"...and the opening line means " If I was a bird, I'd fly, I'd fly to my Mother"

I think that Bongo maffin is the greatest music group ever to bless this country. The are going to be around for a very long time

Bafana Dlamini
I am a music student at wits university. For me Bongo Maffin is one of the music bands that will never die because of the quality of music they make. different backgrounds and cultures contribute a lot to this. Thank you.

ndesh england
i am an aspiring music producer living in the uk and i wud luv 2 work with this briliant sa group,they r alwayz a step ahead i smuck "vibe master"from the latest offering,keep on rocking!!

Zou, London
Their music is beautiful,it reminds of those beautiful sunny days of South Africa.They sing about issues that are affecting our communities.They are the best! Thanx BBC hope to see more SA artist

Ron White
Joyful, life affirming music.

mwedzi, Sheffield
Bongo maffin Boots its great music done very well like a cocktail that quenches my thirst for some homeland music

limpho, new york city
im a south african in new york and bongo muffin rocks-i listen to their music everytime and it is essential ofcours and thank you for putting them on the map.

Vimbai, Chicago IL
Go Bongo! Nayo Nayo!

Ditta, Israel
It's such a shining song, makes you move and smile. Great.

Shabs, London
I've spent the whole day (while working, of course) listening to all the music on the awards site. While they are all brilliant - this is the one song I've come back to. It's absolutely wonderful and reminds me of growing up in Zambia. The BBC is such a great way to find out about music...well, the BBC and peer to peer music sharing...

Gar Dorset
I wish I had the words in their language to all these songs... to sing along! In Latin script set.

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