Date:16 October 2020 - By:
With very few women singing reggae music in the country, a courageous young woman has ventured into the tough, male-dominated industry.
For the past five years, Asataluli Manngo (27) from Gondeni la Ha-Mabilu, near Donald Fraser Hospital, has become a regular face at reggae music festivals both in Limpopo and Gauteng. She started off as backing vocalist and chanting lady for various local reggae artists before she decided to record her own songs. Those who know her will concur that a Rasta gathering without her presence resembles tea without sugar.
Famously known as Mama Africa on the reggae music scene, Manngo fell in love with reggae music at a young age. “My brother loves reggae music, and he was always playing it at home. At first, I did not understand this type of music, but with the continuous play at home, I began to understand it.”
She said she was inspired by the music of Black Jahman Ntshangase, who used to stage live reggae music shows around Thohoyandou. “I started following his music and went wherever he performed. One day, while he was performing, I started chanting with his band while at the same time singing along with the backing vocalists. All the band members were very impressed, and they invited me to their next performance. Thereafter, I became part of their big family and they featured me in all their performances.”
She said after her exposure from the performances with Black Jahman, she worked with local reggae greats such as Steve Netshishivhe, MiliRecords and Rasta Mac Donaldson. “That is where I was encouraged to record my own songs. So far, I have recorded and released three songs that are featured prominently in the local community radio stations’ reggae music programmes. The songs are Farelela, Mama Africa and Vhafhasi Vulani. My immediate plan is to record and release a full album in due course.”
Manngo, who holds an Abet and childhood-development qualification, acknowledges that being in the male-dominated reggae music fraternity comes with its own challenges. “There are people who still believe that women are the weaker sex and less gifted individuals. You have no other alternative but to convince those people by proving yourself behind the microphone.”
She is willing to collaborate with any reggae music artist to explore her talent in the evolving music industry further. She is available on Facebook (Asataluli Manngo) and on mobile number 076 391 9347 (voice calls and WhatsApp).
Asataluli Manngo, better known as Mama Africa, is one of the very few women who sing reggae music in South Africa. Photo supplied.