The train is our stage. How these buskers found their platform to celebrate heritage
Ongx Mona and Wara Zintwana’s harmonies fill every gap of the already packed carriage. As the train comes to a stop, their voices carry out the doors, echoing in the underpass. The music lingers long after the track has cleared. Busking at the station isn’t new, but when Mona and Zintwana strum their guitars, a certain magic fills the air. More than just entertainment, their sounds are a reflection of those around them. “Our songs are social commentary,” Zintwana says. Without a specific genre, their music is as diverse as the people of South Africa.
The two musos both moved to Khayelitsha from the Eastern Cape just over a decade ago. They had the same plan – to make music, share it, and encourage others to do the same. For eight years, they busked together, taking their sounds to the people. “The train is the stage for poor people, where they go and test their craft,” Zintwana says. It wasn’t easy, or very lucrative. But the recognition and acknowledgement was enough to keep at it. “To play music in public spaces brings us joy, love, and freedom,” Zintwana says. The duo continued, gaining recognition and garnering invitations to play at bars in Cape Town, as well as for First Thursdays. As their reputation grew, so did their audience. The two-piece band, known as Warongx, have since performed at Rocking the Daisies and Afrikaburn.
Warongx have managed to make it beyond busking. But the potential that lies with others sometimes goes undeveloped as a result of few resources and even less support of music as a career. In 2011, the band started the Khayelitsha Music Academy to train children to play instruments. “We believe in making music accessible to all,” Mona says. The ensemble gather to practice with old, donated instruments. The kids who show up don’t have money for fees, but bring with them an overflow of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. It’s an outlook that Mona and Zintwana are encouraging. They believe music is an integral part of our heritage, and has the power to change the nation,” Mona says. Regardless of the platform – stage or train station – the way forward begins with recognising the talents of people around us.
“We believe in making music accessible to all” - Warongx
Footage from The Creators documentary was used in the creation of this film.