UMANJI hails from the Northern Province(Limpopo) of South Africa, specially the Zebedial region near Potgietersrus. As a small boy growing up in a rural village, Umanji was steeped in a love of nature and the traditional Tsonga music around him. Interestingly Umanji was the nickname given by his friends after watching the film ‘Jumanji’ starring Robin Williams.Read More...
The village troubadour was Malose Digale, a man who had a lasting impression on the young boy and was later to prove very influential in his life. Idolising Malose, the young Umanji was set on becoming a musician, at primary school playing on a ‘traditional’ oil tin guitar. “Ever since I can remember I’ve lived for my music. I asked this fellow if he could teach me how to play his real guitar, but he refused initially”, recalls Umaji today.
‘Moloi/The Witch’ was released in the middle of 1999, and with Umanji’s rich yet light tenor and socially conscious lyrics (sung in Tsonga, SePedi, Zulu and English) and folkish guitar, the album was quickly acclaimed by both critics and the public. The title was Umanji’s call for people to stop killing women considered to be witches. Umanji’s deep understanding and appreciation of African melodies and harmony - his deeply rooted ‘Afro Soul’ - stood out in an industry and nation sometimes obsessed with overseas influences and culture. Hinting at West African and even Arabic sounds, and spurred on by radio friendly songs like ‘Buti Risenga’ & ‘Nsati’, the album saw Umanji receive a coveted ‘Best Newcomer’ finalist nomination at last years SAMA awards.
Biography based on original release by BMG.