Highlighting and celebrating cultural diversity are among the aims of the multilingual praise singer known as Vendaboy Poet. Lutendo Mugagadeli describes himself as a custodian of Venda heritage, an addict of Venda regalia and a product of poverty. He can recite poetry in six languages, often over a hip-hop, jazz, soul or reggae soundtrack. He’s recorded four albums, won several awards for traditional music and performed at events across the country. “I’m trying to put Venda on the map to say yes, we’ve got poetry,” he says. In 2018 he released the single Muphuresidente, dedicated to Cyril Ramaphosa, which led to his proudest moment so far when he performed the poem for the president on a flight from Durban to Johannesburg. He’s driven to succeed by remembering the poverty in which he grew up. “It is my duty to change everything through my poetry deliverance,” he says.
If I want to see change I have to be part of it, and I must make that choice every day, both in big moments and in small choices.