The life of the zama zama part seven: The maskandi group that lights up the lives of those who work in the dark

Everson Luhanga

We wrap up the seven-part series which highlights the lives of the zama zamas. We conclude with a dance of hope at an abandoned mine.

Abafana Base Mawosi maskandi group has been the source that brings a few smiles to the faces of Braamfischerville and other places warning young people to concentrate on their studies and not to become zama zamas.

Group leader Nkosizathini Hlongwane said he has seen too many young people leaving school to become zama zamas where they get killed or arrested. 

“When I say a zama zama, I don’t only mean the miners. I also warn those who do illegal activities to find money,” he said.

“For those who hustle illegally, from those who commit petty crimes, to fraudsters and greedy politicians. I say to them they must stop because their ways of finding the money will take them to early graves or to cold police cells.”

Hlongwane said in his music, he tells young people to concentrate on studying, and find a decent job where they make money legally.

“We have seen many people going into the mine shaft and coming out in body bags,” he said. 

“Others have not returned to their homes after becoming illegal miners. It is a terrible life for their families and close friends. It is very dangerous to be a zama zama,” he warned.

Hlongwane said he organises a music show at the abandoned mine shaft at least once a month where most of the people attending are zama zamas and their parents. 

“I’m happy that the message in my songs gives people hope for a future where they don’t live in fear of their lives,” he said.

Hlongwane said he has been a singer since he was a young boy. He has travelled to France, England and the USA among other overseas countries. 

“I have a talent for composing and singing,” he said.

“Many people in the community of Dobsonville love me and I have been getting calls from other communities to perform in their areas to warn young people as well.”

Hlongwane said they are hoping to get a sponsor for a car so they can travel anywhere in the country and be lifesavers through their music.

It is a group of maskandi singers who entertain, warn and educate community members surrounded by abandoned mines.