Nathi Mankayi shares his inspirational story with us about life after prison and how he has decided to commit his life to something else entirely.
Just a few short years ago, Nathi Mankayi found himself in prison. Why? Because he and some of his friends turned to a life of crime and robbed someone. They were then sentenced to eight years in jail, with four years suspended.
On the day that Mankayi finally left jail, he promised himself that he would focus on one thing and one thing only - Music!
Now, the 32-year-old singer is among the most sought-after musicians in the country. His debut album, Buyelekhaya, has gone double platinum and he is among the artists who performed at the first BET Experience Africa festival.
Mankayi admits that he is feeling exhausted. “I’ve been performing so much, I can’t even keep count of the gigs I’m doing or the ones that I’ve been booked for in the next few months.”
But being asked to perform at the BET festival was a career highlight for him.
“Being on stage with some of the biggest names in music is a dream come true for me. It makes me believe that I am really doing a good job in the music industry.” Mankayi says he brought real soul to the festival, which took place on December 12 last year in Johannesburg.
“The key to my success has been the fact that I stay true to the person that I am. I grew up in a small town in the Eastern Cape where humility is very important. This is where a lot of the inspiration for my music comes from.
“So whichever stage I’m on, I want to share my upbringing with the audience and I hope that it evokes positive memories of where they come from as well.” Mankayi has also stood out as one of few South African musicians who sing in their native language, in his case, isiXhosa.
“I don’t think I’m going to be writing a song in English any time soon,” he says with a laugh. “Song writing comes naturally to me and it feels right when it’s in isiXhosa. I feel like if I sat down and forced myself to write a song in English, the song would lose that something special.
“There are also a lot of things that I don’t know about the English language, so I think I’d rather stick to a language that I’m actually sure of. That way I can be as expressive as I want to be.” Mankayi is excited to give back to his community.
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