As access to music niches across South Africa increases, it seems that you can expect to come across more and more artists who, all things considered, you should know about; but who have somehow managed to slip past your periphery. Coming across ‘GODFORMA Chasing Dragon’ yesterday was one such experience for me. I had never heard of Nosisi Ngakane before, and yet she is a deep-rooted fixture in the musical landscapes of the region, both behind and on the scene.
Having grown up in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Canada and South Africa, with most of her time in South Africa spent in Johannesburg, she was one of the original members of Kwani Experience (meaning, in the South African context: “an experience from where?”) before moving to Cape Town to work at Instant Grass (a youth marketing and research agency). Following this, she worked with Tumi‘s label, Motif Records, as a label manager and artist manager for Simphiwe Dana. As recently as 2016, she was one of the vocalists for an enigmatic and free-form live performance by a band of various artists (predominantly from Motel Mari and BLK JKS), which was released by Mushroom Hour Half Hour last year, on Youth Day, as an album called ITHUBA LOKU HLOLA (meaning: “a moment of searching and reflection”).
Her most recent offering is that of her solo work. ‘GODFORMA Chasing Dragons’ was released on Sunday evening as an enchanting film by Sjambok Pictures. The description defines ‘GODFORMA’ as “the formation of the God spirit inside one’s self.” It is set within what seems like the early hours of the morning on the streets of Johannesburg and stars Ngakane with appearances from Manthe Ribane, Honey Makwakwa, Vincent Kgasu and Tiyiselani Kubai.
The visuals are appropriately haunting, in that they maintain an innocence which reveals glimpses of a hope as they accompany the song which tells the tale of “this boy who was taken by the river” and questions “when will he stop chasing the dragons?”
If this discovery is anything to go by, I certainly look forward to experiencing these kinds of South-African-music-enlightenment moments more frequently, and also to learn so much more from and about Nosisi Ngakane in the future.