The Root Of Nkabi


“I just enjoy exploring different fields in creativity, for everything that I do I identify myself as an ambitious person. So I am an aspiring actor, an aspiring musician.” says Mthembu.

Born and raised in Soweto, Bafana Mthembu has constantly longed for a platform to be” himself” and share his stories. Although at first, it was difficult for this 24-year-old creative to find his way into the industry, he kept on perfecting his craft until he was comfortable to show other people his capabilities.

“Growing up in Soweto has its own disadvantages. I always wanted to be on TV but I was shy, I didn’t think that my English could be as good as television presenters’.” says Mthembu. “But that never stopped me from dreaming and pushing, I have worked firmly to become who I am.”

When Mthembu started his journey, he was with a group called Khumbula , a fashion collective comprising of Andile Biyana , David Maledimo which focused on telling  stories through vintage clothing they wear.

It was after years that Mthembu finally got comfortable with his voice.

“I am an evolving being;  I am currently working on a musical project. Through this project, I have grown as a person, as a songwriter and musician,” says Mthembu“I have an alter ego, outside Bafana there is Nkabi. Nkabi is a musician.”


Through the influence he got from taxi ranks, he decided  to use his experiences to tell stories he believes are popular amongst young people and the country at large.

“Most people preserve Inkabi as a hit man, I wanted to find a deeper meaning that is actually aligned to what I believe in,” he says.

Nkabi, according to the songwriter stands for Noord Kings  And  Bree Icons.

“I broke the word apart to actually make it an abbreviation that makes distinctive a connection to the two biggest Taxi ranks in Johannesburg,” says Mthembu. “I spend most of my time in Taxi ranks catching taxis. Through taking to different kind of people, I get a lot of inspiration from the stories shared by people I  meet everyday.”

“I started calling myself Nkabi soon after high school; I liked the idea that Inkabi is someone who people respect. Along the way of meeting  new people and getting influence from them, I got to understand what the real meaning of Inkabi is !”

“ Taxi ranks,  is where you actually see a lot of dreams being persuaded. You meet  different kinds of people there. Each and every day when I use a taxi I get to engage with a lot of people who have different stories to share,” he added.

Mthembu has released some of his songs on both iTunes and Audimack. His music is produced by CivilTheSound.

“At this moment I am not in a rush of releasing an album or EP, I want the listeners to breathe and to have a chance to digest my music,” says Mthembu. “I have recorded more than 22 songs so far and in this project, as I call it. It’s about telling a story and letting the story unfold.”

The direction of the story that the songwriter is dishing out is shown on the four songs he has already released.The songs are themed around love, women abuse and having a good time. However, the sound is a fusion of traditional Maskandi music and popular contemporary music. Mthembu through his alter ego, Inkabi, wants to shift people’s perspective on how they see and connect to Inkabi and the Taxi Rank industry.

“It is very important for young people to tell their own stories. It is our responsibility as the youth of today to tell it like is so that the generations to come can make reference to what we have created and have a direction.”


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