Listen to Bongeziwe’s new single, “Jikeleza”

Bongeziwe Mabandla first captivated audiences with his haunting, ethereal voice in 2012. Now the artist – hailed as the face of Future-Folk – is back with an incredible and soulful new single.

JIKELEZA, which means to go around, is a song about love giving us life, according to the singer.

“It is about our universal need to connect. It is about the togetherness in people and about the things that bind us and make us the same.”

Written by the artist – who is known as much for his ability to entwine Xhosa lyrics with traditional music and folk stylings as he is for his invigorated approach to songwriting – the song was inspired by the idea of loving one another in a world where there seems to be so little. While JIKELEZA has a rather strong message, Bongeziwe wanted to make it fun, relatable and easy. The latter part, however, proved to be rather difficult. “Writing the song was a challenge. It took a lot of rewriting and getting feedback from the team, and I wrote many different parts before I got it right,” says Bongeziwe. “The idea came together when we decided to play around with making each part distinct, with each verse coming from a different place.”

Bongeziwe describes the single, which showcases his meditative yet powerful voice, as an interesting mix of sounds. “JIKELEZA has very South African feel but with a mix of a very modern global texture. The song has a playful side to it and while it is probably my most fun single to date, it is also very special as it comes from a real and compassionate place. It is a positive song with a very relevant message in South Africa right now.”

JIKELEZA is also unique in the sense that it was written with a live audience in mind. “I wrote this song for the listener to get involved, and the call and response part is my favourite. I thought a lot about how it would be live and the way an audience would feel and interact at a festival, for example. When I was writing it, I was imagining the live stage version.”

Listen to Jikeleza here.

Artwork by Lambi Chibambo