WATCH: From Gospel to Traditional music ….How Evias Bhebhe fell in love with Isintu

Langalakhe Mabena

His songs have become favourite to many, on taxis and kombis they are the major on the playlists, on local airwaves they enjoy a massive rotation, but many do not know the faces behind the production of the traditional songs that have reconnected them with their roots.

The name Evias Bhebhe is not common amongst local industry players and even to music listeners, yet he is the man who has created and reproduced Ndebele traditional music, obviously giving it an urban and contemporary touch.

Mhondoro, Deliwe, Ndaba Ziphelile, Ezweni labaThakathi, are some of the common songs done by Bhebhe and his musical partner Awakhiwe Nkosi.

These are songs mostly sung during ancestral awakening ceremonies by Izinyanga (traditional healers), but Bhebhe somehow gave the compositions a life as they have managed to dribble past the hearts of even younger generations.

His recent sold out gigs at KoSamuriwo and Palace Hotel are proof that when one embraces their ancestral calling, their path in life can open up and turn sorrow to bliss. “It’s amazing to see young people embracing this type of music because many black people these days don’t want to associate themselves to anything that connects them with traditional healers or cultural things.

“But, from my gig at Palace Hotel I realised that young people really love their culture and there is a need for us artistes to try by all means to recompose or produce traditional songs because they are our identity,” said Bhebhe. His journey into music didn’t start last year when he released the hit songs. He traces his music calling back to when he was in grade 7.

“I grew up in Mzimuni in Gwanda under chief Masuku. I did my primary school at Mzimuni, which is where I discovered my passion for music while doing grade 7. “There is a band that came to play at school and I fell in love with their display and music genius.

So, when they left, I crafted my own guitar using a cane of Olivine cooking oil, and taught myself how to play it. “When I proceeded for my secondary school, I formed an Imbube ensemble called Ama Devil Crushers. Unfortunately I dropped out when I was in form two and went to South Africa in search of greener pastures,” said Bhebhe.

While in the South of Limpopo, Bhebhe would form a church together with his four brothers in Christ. “I dedicated my whole life to Christ which is why in all the things I did, be it singing and creating the Jesus Christ Kingdom church, I did it because of my strong Christianity background.

“As a Gospel musician I have two albums called Abahlabeleli Bombuso and Pela Tulo but they were not commercially successful because I was new in the industry and I didn’t have a proper market,” said Dube.

Sometimes in life, we meet different people and together you go through trials and tribulations that somehow would redirect you to your real purpose in life, and that scenario is not strange to Bhebhe’s life. In between moments of creating Gospel music and ministering at church, things were not well in Bhebhe’s then marriage.

Sickness was manifesting in his wife and the only option was for his soul mate to go for the initiation to eventually become a Sangoma. This is where Bhebhe fell in love and reconnected with traditional songs and eventually met his music partner Gogo Awakhiwe Nkosi.

“It happened that my first wife by then received a calling to be a traditional healer and I had no choice but to support her. This created tension between me and the brothers whom we created the church together. “So in 2021 I left the church because we lost communication with the guys because of the decision to support my wife while I was a pastor.

While she was at the initiation, I also met other people whom I felt were judged by people because they didn’t understand what they were going through. “I eventually started to love and appreciate Isintu because I saw that there is life there as it connects us with our ancestors.

This is the same place where I then met Gogo Nkosi whom I am now doing this music thing with. “She sang Dziba Lemvula and it touched me which brought an idea for us to recompose the song. We hit the studio and many traditional songs were recorded.

The rest is history,” said Bhebhe. The producer believed their music has touched a lot of people, some who didn’t even know they have a calling.

He said during their performance, they always deal with cases of ukuvukelwa lidlozi (ancestral awakening) because apart from performing the songs, they heal people and remind them of who they are.

On 20 April, Bhebhe and Nkosi released a new album titled Linginethile Izulu.

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