Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
Gospel music veteran Sipho Makhabane says he is God’s gift to the world, after his grandmother changed his name from Mhlupheki to Sipho.
Mhlupheki means one who suffers and Sipho means gift.
Makhabane was in Zimbabwe over the weekend for the Gwanda International Gospel Festival.
With roots in Swaziland, Makhabane said his grandmother did not like his name and set in motion a plan to change his name in 1982.
“My parents gave me a name Mhlupheki when I was born. I went to stay with my grandmother and she didn’t like that name Mhlupheki. She then took me to her pastor and she said to him, this is my first grandson with the name Mhlupheki and I don’t like it. This is the gift for the Makhabane’s. My grandmother was prophesying that I was a gift to the world,” he said. This led to his repentance a year later and taking up the music industry in 1988.
“After my grandmother’s pastor gave me the name Sipho, that was around 1982 in 1983, I got saved. I never looked back. That’s why all throughout the ups and downs in the music industry I never lost focus,” said Makhabane.
The musician has 34 albums among them Yekintokozo, Ebenezer, Vuka Mphefumlo, Calvary and Indonga. Makhabane said originality was the key for him being in the game for so long.
“I want to advise the young people to be themselves. If you’re original, that originality will keep you going. This will take you far and people will know your works, like when they hear the intros to my music, they know that its Makhabane playing,” he said.
“I always say this about myself, there’s no one who was better than me, or someone who is cleverer than me. I’m saying God created you and blessed you with your own talents and did the same for me. There’s no need to be a competition between the two of us.”
Makhabane said it was through God’s Grace that he was successful.
He said during the years when songs like Yekintokozo were receiving high rotation, he was pleasantly surprised that Zimbabweans could understand and sing along to his music.
“During the Yekintokozo days I’d ask myself how people from Zimbabwe understand this language. This is my second home. This song took me to the world, I understand the message and it touches their hearts,” he said.
Looking into the future, Makhabane said even at the age of 55, he will continue doing music and mentoring young artistes.
“I released an album Ebenezer. I said because of the work I’m doing mentoring and developing artistes, let me great a break and focus on that. However, after discussions with people who said they want the music because they’re the ones who buy it, I realised that what God has planted in my heart isn’t for me, it’s for his people. Let me just continue and do this thing,” said Makhabane.
He said he is in the studio now, expecting to release the project before Easter.