Protea Glen: Soweto’s Finest dance their way to being kings of isibhujwa

Always active on social networks, showing people what they do.

“Personally I had to prove to my parents that this was my 9- 5 and I think that the passion and discipline I had over the years helped me a lot and helped my mom to say you can do it,” said Soweto’s Finest Njabulo Mahlaba.

Born and Bred in Protea North, 26-year-old Mahlaba is one member of what they call an entertainment entity that specialises in choreography, live performances, events, as well as music.

Soweto’s Finest all started in 2006 when dancers Tom Mlandani and Sandile Shange wanted to take dance to a whole new level.

Going from Kasi to Kasi within Soweto and getting into dance battles with the cream of the crop of dance to prove who’s the best, hence the name: Soweto’s Finest.

“They said instead of just dancing in Soweto why don’t you dance professionally and I will manage you and they just came together and it grew from there,” said Mahlaba.

10/11 years later, the group has grown from strength to strength with four senior members and four juniors still being groomed to get to that level.

Looking up to international greats like Omarion who have a similar upbringing of street dancing Mahlaba said the group’s passion pushed them not to want to become part of those Kasi statistics of people with loads of talent but who never made it.

“Being those people who like saying we never had parents, we never had the capital or we never had the resources.

From left; Mpho Rapote, Thomas Chauke, Njabulo Mahlaba, Oupa Thibatsi, Monde Mgcina and Nkululeko Nyembe.

“So that helped us a lot was the passion and because we really believed that we were that talented and not just relying on talent but we worked at it, we rehearsed two times a day to make sure that we get better at our craft so that is what kept us going,” said Mahlaba.

Like any up and coming entity, Soweto’s Finest had their fair share of challenges through the years that almost made them give up on themselves.

Mahlaba said “ We never had transport to and from our gigs; we had incidents where we’d have transport that would take us to a gig but have no way of getting home not take us home later forcing us to find other means of getting home after paying all our money towards guaranteed transport.

“That was a loss and a challenge paired with a lack of rehearsal space,” Mahlaba recalled fondly how when they had started this venture the group performed for a four/five years for free for the sake of exposure.

The group’s big break came in 2010 when they had the opportunity to choreograph for the closing ceremony at the FIFA World Cup on home soil.

“We taught like 50 people isibhujwa (a kwaito dance) and then the commentators actually gave a shout out to us and bear in mind the whole world was watching, that was a big moment for us because it meant people were taking a serious interest in our craft,” said Mahlaba.

Two years later they went international when they flew to Paris for a performance show that was sold out; which was a memorable moment for them.

Fast forwarding to 2017, the group opened a dance studio situated at Southgate Mall offering a fun way to keep fit and healthy through their vibrant dance moves, they now sell merchandise e.g. caps, T-shirts, and cushions; they host events in Soweto and last month, they released their first single titled “Shube”.

“We just trying to build the entity more than just the dancing to host events and create platforms to up and coming artists in the townships.

“This will give them an opportunity to actually perform and we can assist in giving exposure to them,” said Mahlaba.

With the support of their parents, they pushed themselves to go as going on radio and television, that made them believe in themselves that a great future was ahead of them.

The merchandise sold on the premises.

“We have dreams and ambitions, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to 5 years, so setting targets overshadows the work we do; for the moment we are just working to be an entertainment powerhouse and to conquer Africa have dance academies in Ghana, Nigeria etc.,” said Mahlaba.

Mahlaba said there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing the people who start carwashes, and sell food and confectionary in his community because at least they are making an effort to better their situations at home.

“If you want to get into the arts, please do your research, knowledge is key, know who’s who towards how to get into the industry.

“If you want to be a dancer, work on your craft to be like us, watch YouTube videos, rehearse, come up with your own content, believe, pray and have the right people around you, I think that also helps so much,” said Mahlaba.

“If you want to get into the arts, please do your research, knowledge is key, know who’s who towards how to get into the industry.

If you want to be a dancer, work on your craft to be like us, watch YouTube videos, rehearse, come up with your own content, believe, pray and have the right people around you, I think that also helps so much,” said Mahlaba.

Soweto’s Finest has moved from being just dancers to all-round entertainers.

This year promises to be an exciting year for them, with prospects of an album later on.

Keep your eyes peeled to their next move, otherwise, you can go to their studio at Southgate to know about them.

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  AUTHOR
Sphindile Mbatha

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