Asaman sits down with 27 year old Mpendulo Sibanyoni. A civil engineer by trade.A musician & vocal arranger. He tells his story
I was born and raised in Swaziland, Manzini to be exact. I was the first child my parents were blessed with, and I spent about ten years of my childhood in Swaziland before we relocated to South Africa; so most of my fondest childhood memories involve life in Swaziland, surrounded by a lot of family and friends. Transitioning into South Africa was mostly fun (as it would be for any ten year old boy), but it did come with its challenges. I lost familiarity and had to adapt to a new school, people who had a different influence, new languages, a harsher climate and many other factors. But most of all I no longer had access to my extended family, who played a vital role in defining life for me back in Swaziland. Looking back, I can say that the move was good for me. At the time, South Africa offered more fertility and greater prospects for growth particularly in education and the arts (specifically music, which I had a keen interest towards). The social climate was diverse, and diversity almost always offers a platform for expanding views on the cultural systems that define a society. I appreciated that.
You have a tight knit group of friends. Do you feel the values shared between you are positive and if so, kindly share a few
Indeed. The positivity of the value system shared between my friends and I is the one thing that has been responsible for keeping us together for so long. I met most of my close friends in high school and we have managed to sustain the friendships throughout different stages of life. That has been the case because we are each others’ keeper. None of us can suffer any misfortune whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually with each others’ support. We rely on each other for the growth and well-being of each other. We have our silly times, when we just become typical boys but it is all in good taste and within the boundaries of the law!
What led to your decision to/of becoming civil engineer and are you happy with and in your chosen profession?
I’ve been through many stages of wanting to become many things in life! I think I have the capability to handle anything that I would’ve chosen to do, engineering was the lucky pick lol! But having a creative and scientifically keen mind, engineering was a good fit. I also liked it because of its dynamism. There are always new challenges presented by whatever situation requires an engineering approach, and its quite stimulating to be at the core of overcoming those challenges.
As a musician what are you most passionate about in the field?
Harmony! Harmony has always intrigued me. Particularly that offered by outfits such as Take 6, The Real Group, The singers Unlimted and many more. I’ve had a natural inclination to this type of sound from a very young age. I grew up listening to a lot of music, vocal music to be exact, and the church I belong to fosters the practice of vocal music. I reached a point where I longed to form my own path in arranging vocals, influenced by the kind of music I grew up listening to, and my love and appreciation for good harmony has led me to some interesting and worthy discoveries!
Do you feel or believe music is a medium that could be used for purposes of regeneration?
Indeed. The effects of music are vast. And when channeled into a progressive energy music can achieve what politicians and builders of society sometimes fail to achieve. More so, it can be used in collaboration to the afore-mentioned in order to drive the world in a certain direction. Music has the power to shape thoughts and ideas, if that positivity is reflected through the music that is consumed by society, a change is inevitable.
What is the relationship between you and your father like? Is there a dynamic that you would rather avoid if you were given a chance at fatherhood?
My dad and I have a very functional relationship! He is a quiet, reserved man, very realistic in thought (much like me). He has really done all that he could have done to ensure that my siblings and I are never at a lack, and his support has gone above and beyond monetary measures. I think he could’ve been more affectionate with us, although I understand why that wasn’t his inclination. He grew up in a time and place that didn’t encourage much affection between parents and children. That in no ways diminishes his abilities as a father, but that’s one thing I will strive to do differently when I’m given the opportunity to be a father. It’s amazing what physical and emotional affection can do for children.
Certain behaviors tend to be justified by the notion that society has evolved and become more liberal. What are your thoughts on this theory and the possible effects of such systems.
Society is expected to evolve and change; that change is driven by advancements in technology, scientific discoveries, the media, education and information, and other factors. It is true that these changes have had an influence on the mental state of society, but I do not think that these changes should affect our beliefs, the moral laws. Truth is absolute, it is the one thing that remains constant in a changing world. Humanity needs to remain grounded; the changes should be for our growth as opposed to our detriment. The danger is that this will have an effect on future generations and we will see certain undesirable traits being propagated and adopted as normal behavior.
Kindly share what 3 things you wish men and young boys knew and lived by
•The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom; seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added unto you. That’s the bible. and that should be the starting point for every man
•The state of manhood cannot be proved by display of physical power and dominance. Let your attitude towards the things you’ve been called to steward be a show of your manhood. Build mental muscle, progress comes better that way.
•Peer pressure isn’t a phenomenon that is only experienced by teenagers. It’ll last your entire life. Don’t buckle under the pressure, remember that you are running your won race so set your own pace and don’t become the byproduct of someone else’s choices. Forge your own way.
Intelect is appealing. Thought out comment and action in a time of poor and lazy thinking. Passion in an art designed to be a universal language with no limits to its reach. I have know Mpendulo for a while but I was unaware of just how deep these waters run. Never let the ‘quiet’ ones fool you
Photography by Aaron & Hur