• Rising star Afrika Cele’s music boosts nation’s soul

    The queen of funky soul has arrived and is here to stay. Fasten your seatbelts because the room is about to get hotter and funkier. South Africa-born Philile Cele, aka Afrika, seems to have landed at the right time at the right place, just when the nation needed a soul booster.

    As expected, she has all the ingredients to ensure that the nation has a combination of deep sounds to feed its bruised soul and heal its troubled spirit. “I see myself as a healer more than a singer because I believe that my music is a herb prepared especially to heal my people,” 32-year-old Afrika tells Star Magazine Africa this week in an exclusive interview.

    “It’s really crazy how people are moved by my sound, which in return satisfies my soul,” Afrika, who sometimes includes poetry in her music, adds.

    Born in Port-Shepstone (Kwazulu-Natal Province) in 1987, Afrika – who happens to be a twin – moved to Johannesburg in 2008, to try her luck in the popular and vibrant corridors of the city. It is in the city of gold where destiny created a space for her to join Afro-pop singer Ntando Bongani as a backing vocalist.

    Real world

    That encounter was probably the gateway that transported her to the real world of music, and helped her embrace various sounds. “The fact that I have worked as a backup singer for musicians including Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Siphokazi and Anton Goosen, among others, exposed me to different beats and sounds,” Afrika explains.

    This is a process that laid a foundation to her current sound to have a blend of reggae, afro-pop, blues, jazz, maskandi, and even hip hop.

    As for reggae, Afrika’s attire and looks say it all. She has worked with People Band, the late Lucky Dube’s music group, which took her on a world tour in various parts of the world. “I’ve worked with many big names, including Lucky Dube’s band, who polished my talent,” Afrika, an activist and story teller, says.

    Everything appears to be working just fine as her career is blossoming and her debut album, ”Ngiphilile”, is out and doing well.


    “My success is not about being signed by big labels, but about working with anyone who is willing to work with me. I’m proud of my work and I’m satisfied for achieving such a milestone as an independent artist,” she says, thanking her producer Thuthukani Cele from the bottom of her heart for being there for her. 

    As for the future, she says she still has a lot to offer in terms of healing her fans and people through music. “I also love travelling and I’ll continue doing so if the opportunity arises,” concludes the author of a song called ‘’Wish I could fly to all the mountains’’.

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