Ukhozi FM’s Nongcebo McKenzie talked us through the history of their station and what makes them tick. You may be fooled into thinking that what makes Ukhozi FM South Africa’s number one radio station is the fact that it broadcasts for a large demographic of Zulu speakers says McKenzi, but it is not the case. She says Ukhozi FM (The wise bird) is the mother of all radio stations in SA, which gave birth to new entries in the industry such as Metro Fm.

Radio in SA started in 1924, with the then Radio Zulu established in 1960, which then led to it being renamed in 1995/6 to Ukhozi FM. Contrary to popular belief; Ukhozi FM is a Zulu radio station and not a traditional radio station, even though they portray culture and tradition very well, because language and culture are interwoven entities. Music is just one of the mediums they use to speak to their audience, but they are mandated ICASA to play a minimum of 70% local music.

The numbers of awards the shows and presenters have won are because of the pioneering example of Bhodloza Welcome Nzimande who was the first presenter to host a Maskhandi based music show, breaking barriers and popularizing this music genre. So far the Sigiyangengoma music show segment, which loosely translated means, to dance to a song, is now being hosted by two female presenters, Zim Dollar and Zimphi Biyela which shows that the music has not changed, but tradition surely has.

Cyril Lincoln Nyembezi who was a host on the station, according to McKenzie has also published a book called, Inkinsela Yase Ngubudlova, which later became one of the Top 100 African literature in Africa set book in South African schools. Prof Thokozani Ernest Nene, who joined radio Bantu in 1970 as a translator during the apartheid era, when he joined Ukhozi, he became one of the lexicons, coining the word Inqculaza- HIV term in IsiZulu, he has since been awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze.

Literature, events and radio dramas brought have black stories in a way that they bring forward the basis of one’s identity as being Zulu and identifying with the culture.

In 2017, Khozi FM hosted the Zulu 200 at the Immighubo, an event honouring the 200 years of history of the Zulu nation, Ukhozi also honoured the 45 year rule of King Goodwill Zwelithini.

The Jabula ujule show, called Ingono yomsandi, is one of the shows that keep people especially young people who want to stay in tune with their culture, language, traditions and conserve the aspects that identify with being Zulu.

Lebohang Bridget Lepere

(Edited By Simbarashe Honde)