From an early age, Innocent Mokoena knew he was made to be a musician. Mokoena, who goes by the stage name Menzi Bantwana is an artist from Marite, Bushbuckridge. He says he is a versatile artist who does house, amapiano and afropop music. Mokoena says he started singing at church and he also used to perform at weddings and funerals in his teens. Mokoena says it was only at the age of 20 when he started recording his music.
In 2018, Mokoena got signed under TK Records where he released his first album Makhinika, he then went on to drop Massive EP Album, featuring DJ Call me in March 2020, it had a song called Long Time which was an instant hit. This year, Mokoena released Khai Khai album and a single called Impimpi in which he featured DJ Obza.
Mokoena says the love and the care he has for people is what made him follow music. He says he has realised that there are many broken souls out there and that they need healing and the only thing that can heal them is music.
“There are so many people who can sing out there, but not all of them can touch souls, so when people tell me that my music heals their souls I get even more inspired and motivated. The support and the encouragement I get from people, is another thing that keeps me going. People always tell me to carry on with my music because they like it and that too, motivates me” says Mokoena.
Mokoena says his favourite artist is Dr Malinga, he says Dr Malinga is more than a role model to him because he used to copy every dance move Dr Malinga did. He says as a result, he is known as Dr Malinga Junior in his village, Marite and he loves that.
He says his advice to young and upcoming artists is that tomorrow is not promised to anyone, hence they must wake up today and start tackling their gifts and talents because God helps those who help themselves.
“You can’t say I need an ocean, you must wake up and go where the ocean is. Young people must also learn how to work hard, they must never listen to any words of discouragement because there are many people out there who don’t want to see others becoming successful. Young people must always be positive, they must work hard and spread some love,” says Mokoena.
According to Mokoena, the challenges he came across include not having enough money to pay for his studio sessions. He says at the time he was still a student and his situation was bad because his mom was unemployed. He says as a result, he had to come up with a plan, so he ended up selling snacks at school so he could pay for his studio sessions.
“Another challenge was jealousy, some producers used to change my songs so they can become bad, they did this using Badmixing. Doing this made my fans not to like and enjoy my songs, my songs became bad, but with God all things are possible, I met kind and dedicated producers in 2016 and I started making hits,” he added.
Mokoena says another challenge, which is being faced by young and upcoming artists is issue of support. He says the support they get is not enough because most people support celebrities more than they support upcoming artists, which is painful because celebrities are already on top.
He says this can be fixed by sharing the work among local, upcoming artist and the professional artist. He says upcoming artist should be given the same support that the professional artists. He says this way, upcoming artists will also get a platform to showcase their talents, hence they will grow, become successful and bless the public with their hits.
“Local artists must also learn to respect their fans, because some of them abuse alcohol and misbehave right in front of their fans. By so doing, an artist wont earn any respect from their fans because respect cuts both ways. Having respect from the fans means an artist will be able to make it,” he said.
Mokoena’s manager, Given Mashego from Marite, is the marketing director of Bafentse Productions says he has always liked Mokoena’s hustling spirit. He said Mokoena is always networking with people who have a positive impact on his career as a musician. He said before he even met him in 2020, Mokoena’s song, Long Time, on which he featured DJ Call Me had already spoken for him.
He said he was introduced to Mokoena by his brother, who knew that Mashego had been following Mokoena for some time and while they were chatting one day, Mokoena told him that he was not intending to renew his contract with TK Records as he was looking for better and much greener pastures. He said it was then that they discussed the possibility of Mokoena signing with Bafentse Productions and reached an agreement.
“His character on social media is also something that pulls one to look into. By following him on social media sites and looking at his profiles, one can tell that this upcoming artist knows what he is doing and what he wants in life. This is something most upcoming artist don’t take into consideration,” said Mashego.
“We are happy to have added Menzi Bantwana on the list of our greatest artists, he is home to stay. A lot of bigger productions are on the pipeline for him. The plan is to make him not only an African musical icon but a global musical icon. In the next four years the name Menzi Bantwana will be a brand,” he added.