In migrant communities, many based around the gold mining towns of Springs and Welkom, and in Soweto, South Africa’s biggest township, these “gossip songs” are big business. Clients — jilted wives out to publicly shame their husbands’ mistresses, neighbors wanting to broadcast the name of an untouchable cattle thief, a sibling rebuking a brother who has grabbed the entire share of a family inheritance — pay musicians like [he] $40 (600 rands) to record, mix, and broadcast songs via WhatsApp. [He] also charges an optional $60 “booster” fee every three months to re-share files of a client’s gossip songs to his hordes of offline and WhatsApp fans in South Africa and thousands back home in Mozambique.
The dozens of singers provide more than just entertainment — they’re an outlet for wronged parties who have few other ways to vent their anger or get justice in civil proceedings.
“You pay, I sing and dance out your gossip via WhatsApp,” [He] said. “I package your slander, anger, congratulations and turn a client’s emotions into shareable songs and beats to dance to.”
Most of [his] clients are wealthier Mozambican migrants in South Africa. One, a highly danceable track he produced in 2018 on behalf of a diaspora gold tycoon, calls out the name of a gardener, whom the tycoon alleged had an affair with his wife back in Mozambique.