Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
SOUTH Africa-based female Maskandi musician Intombi Yabelungu is determined to make her mark in the industry which is dominated by men and even surpass her male counterparts.
Born Esther Sibanda, Intombi Yabelungu, who hails from Nkayi, has one album titled Khona Kunzima under her belt.
Singing she said, has been something she always loved doing from a tender age. S
he started singing at Emakhwatheni Primary School and Bahlangeni Secondary School (Nkayi) where she was part of the choir and drama clubs.
However, she could not complete her high school studies because her mother had no funds. As such, she dropped out when she was in Form Two.
“After I dropped out of school, I sat for years at our family homestead doing nothing until my brother Vusumuzi, who was based in South Africa, came and took me saying I should try and seek employment in South Africa,” she said.
While in South Africa, she met other people who were also passionate about the arts and together, they formed a group called Mthwakazi Kandaba.
“We had big plans to shoot a drama there. We started off with 17 members but unfortunately, we didn’t get to record as many members left. After the exodus, only four of us remained,” said Intombi Yabelungu.
She said the remaining four then formed a group which they named Ubuhle Bamanguni. They specialised in the Maskandi genre which she fell in love with.
“The group was formed in 2016, but our debut album Salibonani was released in 2017. This is when I fell in love with Maskandi music as I was a backing vocalist.
Sometimes I’d lead some of the songs.”
After familiarising herself last year, the musician charted her own path and went solo. This is when she assumed the name Intombi Yabelungu.
“This name was given to me by fans. This came after friends who thought a male tenant who was my friend, was my boyfriend.
So they started saying ngiyintombi yomlungu and the name stuck. I then changed it to Intombi Yabelungu.”
In her solo journey, she said there are challenges that she has faced but has overcome them along the way.
“Since this is a male dominated genre, it was difficult when I started. Some male artistes and even fans were trying to court me and even when I spoke to male fans, their partners would become suspicious thinking that I want their men. But now, I’ve gotten used to the trade.”
She said her debut album which was inspired by the trials and tribulations of loving someone, was released last year.
“I named my album Khona Kunzima because of a song which speaks about the difficulties of loving someone who’s not in love with you.
I wrote this song because these things happen in life and affect many people,” said Intombi Yabelungu.
This album saw her win the best newcomer award at the Vaal awards in South Africa showing that she is on the right track.