Zola (musician)

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Bonginkosi Dlamini

(1977-04-24) April 24, 1977 (age 41)
NationalitySouth African
  • Musician
  • poet
  • actor
  • TV presenter
  • Radio presenter
Years active2000-Present
Known forGodsent Angel
Musical career
Also known asZola 7
Years active2000-Present
Associated acts

Bonginkosi "Zola" Dlamini (born 24 April 1977 in Soweto, Johannesburg) is a South African musician, poet, actor and presenter. He was a presenter of Zola 7, a television show named after him, and was also a presenter on the Utatakho Talk show, "Where you get to know the truth about your real father".

Biography and early life[edit]

Bonginkosi Dlamini was born on 24 April 1977 in Soweto township of Johannesburg, Gauteng province, South Africa, where Dlamini spent his formative years in Zola, sub-township in Soweto notoriously known for its high crime rate, from which he adopted his name.[1] Unemployment, alcoholism, and single parent families are the norm in Zola. Dlamini's father believed to be part of the Mchunu clan abandoned the family, leaving his mother to care for him and his older brother and sister when they were young. Zola himself served time in prison as a juvenile for car theft.[2]


Zola became well known for his role as the notorious gangster Papa Action in Yizo Yizo 2. The character was already popular in Yizo Yizo and had been portrayed by another actor. Zola resembled the previous performer, and his performance only increased the popularity of the role. He also performed the score and played a role in the Academy Award-winning film Tsotsi and the movie Drum. Zola also has a prominent role in the documentary SHARP! SHARP!- the kwaito story (2003) directed by Aryan Kaganof.Currently from 2015 to 2016 He has been a minor role actor on TV series, Isibaya & Zabalaza.

Career, Early 2015[edit]

Zola became part of the Utatakho tv programme. He mentioned that he didn’t expect the journey to be without emotion. His role was to intervene in the arguments and facilitate conversations between the parties involved until they get the fathers to agree to a DNA test. Some people were writing in asking to help them identify their real fathers, and others were asking to help them reconnect with their biological fathers. Stories were chosen based on their sensitivity and the reality of the budget. Utatakho was more heartbreaking for the children involved because the families and parents tear each other apart. Dlamini has worked in television long enough to know how to handle this kind of pain. It also helps that a professional counsellor is always present to mediate. Two of the stories they covered touched Dlamini so much that he couldn’t walk away without offering a helping hand. He befriended one of the dads, a young man whom he would like to take under his wing and guide through the journey of fatherhood.[3]

The subject of absent fathers is still a very touchy subject in South Africa, one we haven’t had enough open dialogues about. Zola grew up with guys who at 40 still yearn to have a relationship with their fathers (despite their fathers showing no signs of interest). Dlamini mentioned that father-son relationship is especially important for black men because it’s the core of who we are. He is hoping that through Utatakho a lot of absent fathers will be inspired to get up and foster relations with their children. And hopefully, taking on fatherly responsibilities will come naturally to the next generation of black men.[4]

Back on TV[edit]

Hope with Zola continues to educate and inspire South Africans. Dlamini is a presenter on this new show called Hope With Zola on Moja Love. This show is a tailored fit for Zola, as it focuses on developing Mzansi communities, especially townships and rural areas.[5] The show has educated a lot of viewers about people who are striving to make a positive change in their communities. Zola and his team have highlighted the importance of recycling and how much of a positive change recycling has made in the lives of the less fortunate. Viewers of the show were quite impressed with what Zola and his team with regards to a few episodes and thanked him for once again creating content that is not only relative but most importantly educative. Zola has once again proved why he is one of South Africa's most loved public figures.[6]


Bonginkosi Dlamini has enjoyed success as a Kwaito superstar, and is probably the most popular Kwaito artist in the country; Lance Stehr of Ghetto Ruff records has referred to Zola as "the second biggest brand in the country next to Nelson Mandela."[7] Zola not only performs but also writes and produces some of his own music, signing to the independent label Ghetto Ruff records. Zola will be recording a posthumous collaboration with hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur. The track will be recorded in South Africa but feature on a CD to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Shakur's death on 13 September 1996. Zola is also the owner of the music company Guluva Entertainment.[7]

Originally, Zola was not a fan of Kwaito music, because it "had no message." He has taken upon himself to change this, viewing himself as a role model. "I want to inspire a guy from the ghetto so he can stop hanging around in the corner begging and try to get some life."[8] In the song "Mdlwembe", which literally means problem child, he expresses his feelings about the neighborhood he grew up in. He talks about the horrible quality of life of the township, particularly the extreme level crime and violence. "Beware of the Zola boys, We do crime for money" demonstrates Zola's past and also the perpetual anguish of life in a ghetto.[9] Today, Zola works on behalf of younger performers, helping them to be integrated into the music industry. He is a pioneer in social action and benefit projects in South Africa.[10]

Kwaito is branded as apolitical; often associated with the advancement of personal wealth, Glamorized gangster lifestyle, and frivolous consumption themes found in much of Jamaican Dancehall and Rap. The Genre is associated with a new political freedom gain since the end of Apartheid in South Africa and less political strife.[11] The form of the Kwaito produced by Zola is in that case an anomaly in that it is very much politically charged and contains a social message.[12]

Zola raps in isiZulu with a high usage of Tsotsitaal. The latter is the vernacular slang in South Africa. This infusion of colloquial dialect with a national language allows for better interaction between the artists and the community[13] South Africans in lower socio-economic classes who live in the townships and speak Tsotsi can relate to Kwaito music differently from Cape Town hip hop or US hip hop because of the lyrics. Additionally many of his songs describe situations of life in the townships, particularly Soweto[9]

On 7 July 2007 Zola performed at the South African leg of Live Earth.

Zola rocking the airwaves[edit]

Multi-talented Zola is riding a new wave of success, this time venturing into radio broadcasting. Dlamini is part of the newly-launched Massiv Metro, an online station pioneered by DJ Sbu. eNCA was in studio to witness this historic chapter and sat with Zola after the show to hear how he feels about his new job, Back To The City 2017 and his wish for South Africa. Zola said he aims to use the platform to inspire and empower fellow Africans. Bonginkosi Dlamini, Zola 7 has the drive time show at the station between 5pm and 6pm weekdays, which is targeted at taxi commuters. Speaking to HuffPost SA from the station's studios in Rosebank, DJ Sbu said that he went for Zola 7 because of his wisdom and experience.[14]

DJ Sbu also mentioned that South Africans have an undying love for Zola. Over the years, he has proven through his work that cares about South Africa and the black child. He is very wise and sharp. As soon as we switch on the offering in taxis, it's going to be crazy. His show has a huge following already, even though they are only online for now, so one can only imagine what's going to happen when we go live in the taxis. Of the rest of the line-up, DJ Sbu said his choices were informed about his dream to open up the industry. They are all about that raw township talent. When he thought about the line-up, he thought about the people they are targeting and those are ordinary South Africans, and then wanted presenters who would relate and talk to those people in a language they understand. By ordinary South Africans, He did not mean the Sandton or Camps Bay South African, but he was referring to people from townships across the country. People who would not otherwise be able to listen to an online radio station.[15]

Giving back to the community[edit]

Zola 7 is on mission to boost education. Musician, actor, philanthropist and community builder Bonginkosi Dlamini, also known as Zola 7, continues to empower the youth, this time with his recent bursary programme partnership. Dlamini, who has dedicated most of his life helping the needy, said he couldn't say no when he was asked to be part of the Afribiz Academy technical training institution's initiative. Dlamini said that he was connected through his manager. He believes they contacted him because of the work he has been doing throughout the years trying to help with the bursaries wherever he could. He was asked to assist in their project and he jumped into it. The pushed it, and it became an overwhelming success said Dlamini. Tameez Chothia, the marketing manager at Afribiz Academy mentioned that they are trying to give back to the community in whichever sector where they find a deficit, hence they found it important to invest in education and the future of the youth.The institution, through its partnership with M2 Engineering Academy, has been offering various courses such as electrical, plumbing, building and other construction-related services.The institution has become a beacon of hope for young unemployed people in South Africa seeking to acquire suitable skills.[16]


  • Yizo Yizo season 2
  • Zola 7
  • Rolling with Zola
  • Zabalaza season 3
  • aYeYe season 1
  • isiBaya season 3 and season 4
  • iNkaba season 1
  • Utatakho season 1
  • Zaziwa season 1
  • He also appeared in the award-winning movie Tsotsi and the movie Drum.[17]


    • Umdlwembe (2000)
    • Khokhovula (2002)
    • Bhambatha (2004)
    • Ibutho (2005)
    • Tsotsi (2005 motion picture)
    • Impepho (2009)
    • Unyezi (2011)
    • Intathakusa (2014)


    He has four South African Music Awards - SAMA

    • Artist of the Year - 2002
    • Best Soundtrack - Yizo Yizo
    • Best Music Video - Ghetto Scandalous
    • Best Kwaito Album - Umdlwembe

    He also received three Metro FM Awards 2001

    • Song of the Year - Ghetto Scandalous
    • Best Album of the Year - Umdlwembe
    • Best Kwaito Album - Umdlwembe[17]


    1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2008. The Kwaito Generation
    2. ^ Shota, Babalwa (2004)'Dare to Dream.' "Sunday Times Magazine", 9, 10–12 May.
    3. ^ Destiny. "Destiny". Destiny.
    4. ^ http://www.destinyman.com/2015/06/19/bonginkosi-zola-dlamini-back-with-a-bang/
    5. ^ https://www.dailysun.co.za/News/Entertainment/zola-back-with-new-tv-show-20180902
    6. ^ https://www.zalebs.com/whats-hot/hope-zola-continues-educate-and-inspire-south-africans/
    7. ^ a b The Kwaito Generation : Inside Out :: A production of 90.9 WBUR Boston, MA Archived 10 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
    8. ^ BBC World Service | Rhythms of the Continent
    9. ^ a b Mhlambi, Thokozani. "'Kwaitofabulous': The study of a South African urban genre." Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa, vol 1 (2004): 116-27.
    10. ^ Zola: Rising music icon of our time
    11. ^ Stanley-Niaah, Sonjah. "Mapping of Black Atlantic Performance Geographies: From Slave Ship to Ghetto." In Black Geographies and the Politics of Place, ed. by Katherine McKittrick and Clyde Woods, 193-217. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2007
    12. ^ 'I saw blood on the street' | Features | guardian.co.uk Film
    13. ^ nhlanhla sibongile mafu, Johannesburg, 2002 "hybridization and slang in south african poetry" Kagablog 12 December 2007
    14. ^ https://www.enca.com/life/zola-rocking-the-airwaves
    15. ^ https://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/06/23/massiv-metro-is-all-about-about-raw-township-talent-dj-sbu_a_22583822/
    16. ^ https://www.iol.co.za/the-star/news/zola-7-on-mission-to-boost-education-13671565
    17. ^ a b http://www.redlive.co.za/happened-bonginkosi-dlamini/

    External links[edit]