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A rising star

You have heard of famous singers like Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Letta Mbuli and Margaret Singana — but have you heard of Zanzi Maruping?

The young Zanzi, who lives in Sharpeville, walked into our office with her good friend, artist Gamakhulu Diniso. She was wearing a beautiful African print dress and a Miriam Makeba hairstyle. She told us she was a music student at the Funda Art Centre in Soweto. We looked at her and thought that she was just another young singer with big dreams.

Then somebody asked: “How about a song or two?” You know how we are here at Learn and Teach. Anything’s better than work! We sat down in the office and waited for the “concert” to begin.


Zanzi opened her mouth and started to sing Miriam Makeba’s Iph’indlela (Show us the Way). We could not believe it! What talent! What a voice! We sat glued to our chairs and listened to her sweet and powerful voice. All around the room feet were tapping and heads were nodding in time to the song.

Her voice floated up and down with great ease and touched everyone. The song came to an end. Everybody clapped their hands and with one voice roared :”More! More! More!”


Zanzi says that she started singing when she was very young. “I started singing at school. But I really began to love music when I first started listening to the songs of Miriam Makeba and Letta Mbuli. I enjoyed singing along with their records.”

“When ! finished Form 3 in 1986, I told my parents I did not want to continue with school. They were very angry with me. But after I told them that I wanted to go to music school, they stood behind me all the way.”

Zanzi says that Gamakhulu Diniso is “like a brother” to her. He is the founder of the Busang Thakaneng Art Centre in Sharpeville and has helped Zanzi a lot. It was Gamakhulu who encouraged her to go to the Funda Centre.


“I started going to classes at Funda centre last year. It was not easy for me. At Funda I saw that singing is not an easy thing. I had to learn how to read and write music before I could do anything.

“I also learned to play the piano which I like very much. The teachers at the centre are very nice to us. They are also very good. If you think music is all shouting and nothing else, you must see what we do at our school,” says Zanzi. Zanzi is now doing her second year at Funda. She is working hard because exams are around the corner.

“I must pass the exams because I want to get a scholarship to study music. I would love to go to another country in Africa and learn about other people’s music,” she says.


Zanzi’s second love after music is acting. She spends most of her spare time acting in a new play called “The Thorns of Papi Love.” The play was written by Gamakhulu Diniso.

He says the play is about “how the love of today stabs the youth like sharp thorns.” It’s message is that young lovers must be careful of careless and meaningless love as it does more harm than good.

When this play comes to an end, Zanzi will take the lead role in another new play. The play is called “Opela” and it will be staged for the first time in September at the Busang Thakaneng Theatre. Gamakhulu says the play will have lots of Miriam Makeba’s music. Zanzi’s voice will surely make this play a hit.

Zanzi has one other big love — children. When she isn’t acting or studying, she teaches music to the children at the Busang Centre. And when she is finished there, the children often follow her home. On weekends her home is always full of youngsters who come to sing and play with her.


You’ve read all about what Zanzi loves. So what doesn’t she like? Disco music! She hates disco music. She says: “Most of the singers just shout meaningless words about any foolish thing for the whole song. You listen to one song and you know them all.

“They must learn from singers like Makeba and Mbuli and sing songs with meaning. Music should talk about the people’s daily lives and struggle. I am not saying that music must be political but it must mean something to the people and show who we are.”

Zanzi’s advice to others who wish to learn music is to go and study. She believes parents must encourage their children to sing and not stop them. Zanzi is not yet famous like her idol, Miriam Makeba — but she has what it takes. She’s not scared of hard work and she has the will to do well. For young Zanzi Maruping, the sky is the limit!

NEW WORDS roared — a long, deep, loud sound – like that made by a lion encourage — to tell or urge somebody to do something careless — not careful meaningless — without meaning idol — someone you love and respect the sky is the limit — anything is in reach


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