Zakes Bantwini Biography: Real Name, Early Life, Music Career, Albums, Awards, Black Coffee, Philanthropy
Zakes Bantwini, also known as Zakhele Madida, is a highly talented singer, songwriter, producer, and prominent South African entertainment industry figure.
Zakes Bantwini is one of the masterminds behind the Durban Kwaito Music (DKM) genre, which blends house beats and Kwaito lyrics. He has earned legendary status in the South African entertainment industry and is regarded as one of the most educated musicians. Let’s take a closer look at his biography.
Background And Early Life
Born as Zakhele Madida in KwaMashau F-section in KwaZulu-Natal on 26 April 1981, he is now widely recognised by his stage name, Zakes Bantwini. He was raised by his parents – his father, Jeffrey Khanyile, and his mother, Nomthandazo Madida.
He attended Shayamoya Junior Primary School and Nqabakazulu High School. He had his first child at 14 years old and faced the challenges of being a teenage father. He did not give up on his education. He went on to study music at Natal Technikon, now as known as Durban University of Technology (DUT), where he graduated with a national certificate in Light Music.
He then went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he graduated with a Jazz and Music Performance Diploma. He added more qualifications and studied Social Entrepreneurship Programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences. He also formed his record label, Mayonie Productions, while completing his final year.
Zakes Bantwini marked his 40th birthday in grand style by revealing that he had been accepted into Harvard Business School to further his musical career and continue mastering his art.
Zakes Bantwini Music Career
In 2004, while completing his final year of study at DUT, Zakes Bantwini established his own record label, Mayonie Productions, to create one of South Africa’s biggest record labels. He began recording his music and produced hit songs such as Bum Bum, Wasting My Time, and Clap Your Hands.
Zakes Bantwini’s debut studio album, The Good Life, was released in 2008. Two years later, he launched his second studio album, Love, Light and Music, propelling him to succeed in the Southern African house music scene.
In 2010, Zakes Bantwini performed alongside award-winning DJ Black Coffee at the Channel O Music Awards. During their performance of Black Coffee’s Juju and Zakes Bantwini’s Clap Your Hands, they engaged in a dance-off that electrified the audience.
Zakes Bantwini Discography
Zakes Bantwini has released five studio albums:
- The Good Life (2008)
- Love, Light, and Music (2011)
- The Fake Book & Real Book: My Music Bible (2013)
- Love, Light and Music 2 (2017)
- Ghetto King (2021)
He also collaborated with Black Coffee on his album Home Brewed (2010).
Awards Won By Zakes Bantwini
Zakes Bantwini has won several awards for his music. Some of them are:
- Best Kwaito Album at the 2007 Metro FM Awards for his work with L’vovo Derrango
- Best Dance Album at the 2010 Metro FM Awards for his album Love, Light and Music
- Best Male Artist at the 2011 South African Music Awards for his album Love, Light and Music
- Video of the Year at the 2011 Channel O Awards for his album Love, Light and Music
- Best Global Music Performance at the 2023 Grammy Awards for his song Bayethe with Wouter Kellerman and Nomcebo Zikode
- Musician of the Year at the 2022 GQ Men of the Year Awards
Relationship With Black Coffee
Zakes bantwini’s Cancer Philanthropy
In 2007, Zakes Bantwini suffered the loss of his mother to cancer. To honour her memory, he established the 1Goal4Cancer initiative in 2014, which hosts celebrity games to raise awareness about cancer. The games are held annually at different venues, and the most recent event was a 7-a-side soccer match at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium. Celebrities such as Pearl Thusi, Slikour, Doctor Khumalo, Darren and Ryan (Twins on Decks), and Nandi Madida supported the cause.
The initiative’s primary goal is to spread knowledge about cancer and make information readily available to those living in rural and township areas, which is one of the core reasons behind Zakes Bantwini’s decision to launch the campaign.