“Word Echoes from SANZ”: “Love of Ekhazi – Kwaito Music”
Written by Helewise Arends on November 6, 2017
Kwaito is a music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa, during the 1990s.
Its defining qualities include the slow down, quite prominent drum & bass beat (similar to house music) as well as the spoken vocal melodies.
It has, at times, been easily dismissed as the answer to American Hip-Hop.
Kwaito is derived from the name “Amakwaito” – a group of gangsters in the Johannnesburg township of Sofiatown, who derived their name from the Afrikaans word “kwaai” meaning “vicious” or “angry”but more commonly referred to as #hot; that they were #kicking. As Kwaito did not require a formal knowledge of music, large spaces to rehearse, and expensive instruments, it became easily accessible to individuals in downtrodden communities.
Kwaito’s lyrical themes focuses around life in the township, politics, girls, partying and so on. It is to the urban youth of South Africa , just as Hip-Hop is for the youth of America now – an outlet, a medium of expression and an escape from the problems that pervade their lives.
Kwaito has strengthened social intergration and is heard across the country, from minicab buses to clubs, radios and parties. Its sound defines the voice of young, black urban South Africans and is sung in street slang which is a mixture of English, Zulu, Sesotho and Isicamtho (SA street slang – a modern version of Tsotsi-Taal).
Kwaito has been called the music that defines the generation who came of age after Apartheid (also called the “born-frees”), with its pulsating dance beat evolved from styles such as mbaqanga and dancehall, as well as house and disco music.
The Kwaito industry is growing fast, but remains largely a South African phenomenon despite it’s popularity. Kwaito has expanded to Namibia and their artists are determined to take it to the next level – despite lacking major distribution and publishing companies.
The music is characteristic of a dialogue between a man and a woman, with the woman largely repeating the man’s lines which is usually not sung , but rather rhythmic speech and performances require the audience to interact through verbal responses, which is done in a call-and-response manner.
Kwaito is a way of life – of how South Africans dress, speak & dance and provides an opportunity for the nation’s youth to produce something they sell;
something they enjoy for gain.
As long as the youth control the trends, it will remain a
Examples of Kwaito