Welcome to the official website of Zolani Mkiva
His Royal Heritage - The Poet of Africa

Zolani is one of the youngest practioners of one of the oldest oral traditions in africa, kubonga (praise singing). Hailing from Idutywa a small town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, Zolani rose to prominence in 1990 when, barely a month after becoming a fully-fledged Imbongi Yesizwe (Poet of the Nation), the schoolboy was called upon to salute with a red hot rendition the recently released Nelson Mandela at his Welcome Home Rally in Transkei.


· Mandela’s Poet Laureate - RSA
· Winner of Die Woche Award - Germany
· Prince Of Afro-Poetry - Zimbabwe
· Recited at the House of World Cultures – Europe
· Performed at the Turn of the Century festival – France
· Presented at Africa business Day Forum - USA
· Performed at the world Council of Churches – Zimbabwe
· Performed at Freedom Celebrations in Swaziland
· Cultural Day in Tanzania
· College of Chiefs in Lesotho
· Millennium Celebrations at Robbin Island
· 30th Anniversary of the revolution in Libya
· Call for freedom & Peace in Palestine
· Poet of Africa at the African Parliament in Pretoria
· Commonwealth of Nations in Durban
· Poet of Africa at the OAU summit in Libya
· President Mbeki’s installation
· International Poetry Festival in Holland
· Children’s Festivals and Africa week in Turkey
· International Poetry Festival in Ireland
· The Sharq Toranolari in Uzbekistan
· International Poetry Festival in Colombia
· Present the latest album in Brazil
· Best Traditional Artist in Africa ( Kora Award)
1991 saw Zolani complete his matriculation, and during the same year, consolidated his role as Imbongi through extensive work at community projects. The role of an Imbongi is a responsible one in African society, for it involves articulating the feelings of the community, and encapsulating these sentiments in concise poetic phrases. Not only does Imbongi praise, but must also ponder, even offer criticism.

Yasser Arafat

Especially at this time of political transition and nation building in South Africa, Zolani felt the need to broaden his knowledge and analytical tools, and decided to pursue studies in Social Sciences at the University of the Western Cape. His studies included oral traditions, history and cultural issues, and in this way, he became a dual practitioner and scholar of African Poetry as well as Traditional Music. This opened a new path of a wonderful combination as he employed his poetry for musical compositions.

While completing his degree, Zolani remained active in a host of cultural matters. Significantly, in 1994 he participated in numerous preludes throughout South Africa, including the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela, in Pretoria on 10 May, where he rendered two items. It was at this point when Zolani became officially, Nelson Mandela’s poet Laureate.

On the educational front, Zolani has been involved on part time basis, for example, assisting with programmes at the Community Arts Projects as Mentor, and serving as a guest lecturer at both Universities of the Western Cape and University of Stellenbosch. In addition, there has been a myriad of public lectures at schools with relevant topics on Patriotism and the revival of our culture.

Zolani Mkiva participates in events either as an Imbongi, or alternatively as a Compere. Unlike other performers, he will ordinarily have to give careful consideration before participating in an event, and frequently research the topic at hand, maybe prepare a specific framework for a recital. Like a jazz musician, the lines of an Imbongi are never fixed – they are improvised,
at times melodic and at times melancholy. And not always guaranteed to please with tame
platitudes - A lion must Roar !

Some Highlights of Zolani Mkiva
In 1994 Zolani developed a very close relationship with Jabu Khanyile and Bayete, this saw him touring the country with this legend of African Mixolidia. The following year they were both in invited in Zimbabwe for the proccedings of the SADC summit as they posed a good combination. In this historical event, Zolani was saluted as the Prince of Afro-Poetry.

Shortly before that, Zolani was bestowed with the International award for reviving and promoting the tradition of Ukubonga. The Die Woche Award was issued by a leading Germany newspapar in Hamburg.

1995 saw Zolani sharing the stage with the Mansa of Mali, Salif Keita on his first visit to South Africa. This was to be an everlastng relationship between the two musos who have one thing in common, poetry in their blood, as you know that Salif is a Griot which equals Imbongi. Greater things were yet to come for the farmboy as in 1996 again was called upon by Making Music productions to take the Chairmanship of African Reconnection which was meant to reconnect South African artists with the rest of Africa’s Divas. During the same year Zolani compered Ismael Lo tour in the country and also featured in his live performances,

1997 saw Zolani releasing his first solo album entitled “ Halala South Africa”. This album was a combination of his recitals and afrocentric sounds, which unleashed a fresh crop of lyrical beauty engulfed in music. In the same year Zolani has started working closely with the king of African Ballads, Ringo Madlingozi. He has featured in more than three albums of this golden voice of Africa, viz, Sondelani, Mamelani and Buyisa. Zolani also worked closely with the African song-bird from Benin, Angelique Kidjo and this saw Zolani being invited by Kidjo to do an intro on her Voodoo Child album. Not only that, Zolani also feature on another track, Babaluba in the same Angelique project. He also worked with the brilliant musician from DRC, Papa Wemba. Just before the second democratically elected President of RSA, Thabo Mbeki was installed Ringo and Zolani were commissioned to produce a single in honour of this protagonist of African – Rennaisence and this album gave Mbeki a clear mandate to take us to the next Millennium.

Zolani released an International album in 2000 which was his second solo album. This one was entitled "Qaddafi” and it enjoyed a lot of airplay and its vedio plays to date on the national television. In these two solo albums Zolani worked very closely with Sizwe Zako who co-produced his albums.
Mazenethole is the latest offering by Mkiva and is expected to do wonders all over the world as it pay tribute to the icon of Freedom in Africa, DR Nelson Mandela. In this album Zolani draws our attention to respect our rituals and customs. In a song where he addresses the fatalities in the schools of initiation, he hits hard on flybynight traditional
surgeons. He also causions the parents to guide the kids to uphold their african heritage.
Heartically and Rootically, Zolani is committed to the welfare of African Music, Poetry, Dance and arts in general.

Left Picture: Johan Vollenhoven & Faizel Cook
Right Picture: Christoph Kopke

Community responsibility
Zolani is the founder and field worker for the Mkiva Humanitarian Foundation which helps the rural people on a number of issues relating to development of arts & culture, welfare and education. The foundation is currently working on openning a cultural school at the banks of the Great kei river in the Eastern Cape.
Zolani Mkiva is also the reigning, Chief Executive Officer of the Xhosa Royal Council which looks after the interests of His Majesty, King Xolilizwe Sigcawu and the entire Xhosa royal Family. The council is responsible for rural development in the area of jurisdiction of His Majesty.

Recital with smile
Portriat with Mandela
Great Grandfather (Pauzen)
Jabu Khanyile