Siyabonga Mthembu


When I left secondary school I remember writing on a note pad what the outcome of what I was about to do was, it read “I want an international art career of national worth”. The teething moments of this realization have been a collaboration and creation of an art experience in the form of the Brother Moves On (my band). I chant and sing lead vocals for the Brother Moves On
I returned home from Rhodes University having played in a band named Orangutang B*tch. I had been studying Dramatic arts and wanted to bring that to my musical performance experience in a space that played with the fourth wall of performance(the audience).

My late brother convinced me and my cousin that we could form a band with a revolving door policy thus ensuring space for growth and collaboration outside of the band. This was true for a while until we found the right grouping of humans to work, travel and collaborate with. The band now comprises of four individuals from different parts of Johannesburg whose music pays homage to South African Jazz/Rock /Funk, in its love for the esoteric and eccentric in what it is to be rhythmically South African. Our band is made up of members who were born during the political transition that lead to Mandela becoming president, so our music captures the growing pains and joy of idealism. And in doing so prays for a return to a collaborative and communal experience of bettering our space.

The social impact of what our band represents is something I hold pride in. We are self starters, self managed and independent of an industry finding difficulty to locate its audience. We write our own music thus the lyrical content is from a first person perspective and speaks to issues that affect us as young South Africans. My work also has a performance art component to it. I’ve been involved in a continually evolving installation that deals with public spaces and navigating ones way through the real and imagined experience of Johannesburgs inner city.
This experience was amazing in that I got to work on a pirate radio station and got to perform for an unknowing(the public) and knowing audience(the Goethe Institute audience). I also got to work with artists who were not from my country and this was a new and of course challenging experience. I relished the opportunity, even when things weren’t going the way that we the performers had planned it was great for the audience to be a random part of our script.
The Brother Moves On
United African Utopias: Re-Imagining the City of Johannesburg


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