How coincidental that the morning I was having an internal debate about whether to go with the commemorative Human Rights piece for the 21st or with the Arthur Mafokate one, I heard the devil himself on Metro FM’s First Avenue. Towards the end of the interview he mentioned that weekly newspaper, City Press, would also be printing their interview with him. So great minds think alike, yes? I must admit though that I was in turmoil because finding the perfect angle was rather elusive.
Arthur Mafokate is an uncanny subject, so to speak. Not the conventional sort of man I would be likely to profile. My interests range from politics to business, food to lifestyle, music and almost everything really. It is rather odd that within this wide sphere of interest, his is a name that does not pop up often.
It is disappointing to admit that until now I have had these considerations because Mafokate is, after all, a businessman with strong political values (if his relationship with the ANC is anything to go by).
He remains a firm believer and promoter of his product which continues to be run-by –the-mill music. This is the stuff entrepreneurs are made of, so said a man named Mongezi Makhalima (in no particular reference to Mafokate though). So perhaps I ought to have more respect for the man.
Resilient is the best word to describe Arthur Mafokate. More than eighteen years experience in the music industry without as much as a worthy nod from industry bodies like the SAMAs takes real guts.
Of course as per his radio interview he still maintains that independent record label artists are grossly overlooked in favour of those from major record labels. The saga continues. The one reason I decided to write a piece on the man is that, once again SAMA fever is upon us.
The recent announcement of the nominees in various categories left some artist with a bitter taste, and rightfully so for some. Arthur Mafokate? Well, this is a peculiar one.
If after more than eighteen years in the industry all that an individual fights for is to be nominated in the Best Song category then something is amiss. Never mind Best Male Artist or that Best Female Artist and not even that Best Dance Album, it’s that much coveted Song Of The Year accolade that Arthur wants.
The independent versus major record label debate can continue for as much as is allowed but the crucial thing that Mafokate continues to ignore is quality. When quantity takes centre stage and becomes a priority then quality is often than not compromised.
With Mafokate, this manifested itself in the exodus of artists from his stable who felt that the man has an acute lack of appreciation for quality, for individuals who take their craft seriously.
What he continues to pelt out is music that seems to have been manufactured in a Chinese factory. This is not only an insult to whoever consumes the music but it makes a mockery of the time, effort and dedication that Mafokate has invested in his company over the years.
He continues to make music and is innovative in the dance music scene, that we recognize, but whether his material deserves the kind of recognition he craves is a bit far-fetched. Many artists have come to understand the concept of the customer being king, especially in a period where CD sales have taken a nose dive due to the rising popularity of downloads.
More effort is now pumped into producing quality and paying attention to detail. Arthur Mafokate is possibly one of the most formidable entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry but his attachment to mediocrity is a stumbling block to him realizing his full potential.