Arthur Mafokate (born 10 July 1964) is a South African kwaito musician and producer. In 1994, he released his debut album titled Windy Windy with the hit track “Amagents Ayaphanda”.
Life and Career
Arthur Mafokate was born on July 10, 1969. He is the son of Olympic equestrian and philanthropist Enos Mafokate and the brother of the late kwaito star Oupa Makhendlas Mafokate. He was born in Soweto, Gauteng Province but his family later moved to Midrand. He became a backing dancer for artists including Brenda Fassie, Monwa & Son and Johnny Mokhali[^citation needed^].
First Kwaito Hit
He released the first kwaito hit with his 1995 song “Kaffir” which to date has sold over 500,000 copies. Its lyrics reflect the new freedoms that emerged after the political changes of 1994, including the implementation of a new constitution and democratic election system. The title, “Kaffir,” is a derogatory term used mostly in South Africa as a racial slur to refer to black people. In his song, Mafokate protests against the use of the word “kaffir,” claiming that his employer (called “baas” or boss) would not like to be referred to as “bobbejaan,” or baboon.
At the 2021 Mzansi Kwaito and House Music Awards, his single “Hlokoloza” received a nomination for Best Kwaito song.
In 2017, the artist Cici, who was then his partner and signed to Mafokate’s label, accused him of physical abuse during the time they were living together. Cici had a serious injury and had to be treated in a hospital. He was arrested and released on bail pending a court case. After Cici posted images showing the injuries she sustained, widespread condemnation on Mafokate led to cancelling of the 100MenMarch which was a march to highlight gender based violence perpetrated by mostly men against women and children. Mafokate denied all allegations and was found not guilty by Midrand Magistrate court in 2019.
On 13 January 2023 Arthur Mafokate was alleged to be involved in the misappropriation of R56m in community development funds from the National Lotteries Commission. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) obtained a preservation order to freeze a plot, a farm and three luxury properties valued at R53m, one of which belongs to music legend Arthur Mafokate. The properties are linked to fraud and corruption at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
Allegations of unlawful enrichment at SAMRO
In 2019 the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) sued Mafokate for unlawful enrichment. According to the court case, Mafokate and a number of other members of the leadership of SAMRO overpaid themselves by more than R1.6 Million rand. Mafokate himself was irregularly overpaid by R84 000.
SAMRO would later become the centre of a scandal regarding the underpayment of royalties to artists, much of this taking place during Mafokate’s time working for the organisation.
In 1998 he won the Song of the Year for his song Oyi Oyi at the SAMA FNB Awards. Mafokate, credited as the King of Kwaito, was the first artist to win the South African Music Awards category of The Song of the Year as voted for by the public. He was recognised for his contribution to this new generation of music at the 2007 FNB South African Music Awards. His victory in the ‘Song of the Year’ category depicts the peculiar popularity of a music genre which does not analyse historical black struggle like traditional South African music has often done.
The genre of Kwaito music resulted from “the lifting of sanctions in South Africa which provided musicians with easier access to international music tracks and a radical revision of censorship while easing political situation allowed for greater freedom of expression. Freedom of expression meant that for the first time, youth in South Africa could make their voices heard”. Making his voice heard through song Oyi Oyi, Mafokate hit.