The public transport dependants claim that local taxi drivers, particularly Kombi (Minibus) drivers, are famous for being rude, unclean and illiterate. These constant negative opinions about taxi drivers have aggrieved some South African musicians.
Surely, taxi drivers are not perfect employees in other areas pointed out by the public. But according to musicians – these workers deserve respect and credential in the music industry.
It’s quite surprising that, artists, who hardly use public transport, are outraged by matters unrelated to them.
Come to think of it, there’s a musical bond between South African taxi operators and local musicians which started decades ago: The black commuters’ popular public transport, known as Kombis in South Africa, was legalized in the late Eighties.
A Couple of years later, the Kwaito genre was unveiled to the citizens of South Africa; subsequently, the taxi drivers and artists’ relationship became increasingly inseparable.
Kwaito stars eagerly relied on taxi drivers, who suddenly secured a senior promoter’s status in local music industry, while radio stations couldn’t escape without playing the innovative sound in town, Kwaito.
“…hand over your music… and it will be scheduled for the daily playlist, immediately!”
Everything around music and the taxi industry promptly changed. For the first time, taxi drivers had to operate like radio/club DJs during working hours with daily trips to fulfil passengers’ requirements, which included playing local music.
Also, the musical pressure escalated from taxi business owners, who had to run taxi business like a disco club, to feed travellers’ addiction of a musical journey.
This was just the beginning. When other genres unearthed from Afro-pop to House… taxi drivers continued to entertain commuters with all that South African maestros had produced.
Over the past years, the commitment from local radio stations, TV music programs and other sources that promote Mzansi’s musical brand have been questioned for having less interest in locally produced music. It’s now twice as hard for artists that follow the basic procedure required to enter radio stations’ playlist, to do so. A Good connection with radio bosses/DJs will take you up the top.
That said, most local popular songs that pass taxi drivers stage eventually receive a national anthem’s nod in clubs, radio and television.
Whenever Kwaito music history is revisited, in South Africa, where the whirlwind music entertainment started, Kwaito icons such as Oskido, Arthur Mafokate and the Godfather of Kwaito M’du Masilela, always praise taxi drivers for their exceptional promotional skills; that eventually raised Kwaito’s fresh artists to stardom.
The accessibility of taxi drivers is the easiest in the country as compared to other sources: Just go to any taxi rank and hand over your music in the form of CD or mp3 and your music will be scheduled for the daily playlist, immediately! Of course this is only In South Africa.
The new technology is becoming a new trend for music promotion but unfortunately, the music won’t reach out to all consumers in rural areas where local music is more supported.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if taxi drivers receive a special honour for being a ‘trusted source’ in promoting South African music?