Cool Kid: Zekhu Kheswa

Different environments can affect how one understands and views the world. 

Zekhu Khwesa is a Bachelor of Music student at Wits University, a budding musician majoring in jazz vocals, and goes by the stage name “Lord Zekhu. The Durban born musician said music has been a part of his liver ever since he can remember. “At the age of 11, I would practice at the staff kitchen at my school, that is when one of my teachers noticed me and gave me proper lessons,” he recalls.  

Zekhu creates alternative, Afro-Pop, Trap and RnB music. He manipulates and fuses sounds from different genres that articulate and present the audience with something unique to listen to. “Music needs to introduce different taste, this helps broaden and open the listener’s minds to new, informative and insightful things,” Kheswa said.  

The photograph that inspired Zekhu to write the JungleFever collection Photo: Sedibana Mpho

The love of music runs in the Kheswa family, Zekhu’s mother is an Opera singer and his uncle is a music conductor for orchestras, and lectureat UKZN. At the age of 10, Zekhu would go to UKZN to practice playing the piano. He tells Wits Vuvuzela that as a child he never realised that he was following his mother and uncle’s footsteps, but it is all making sense now.  

Zekhu released his first collection JungleFever on 3 May, 2021. The collection consists of 3 solo singles, the singer explained the work behind JungleFever was inspired by photography shot by his friend, Sedibana Mpho. “I mostly create my work from analysing and interpreting art,” he said.    

Zekhu initially pursued modelling when he first got to Braamfontein in 2014. But he said the experience came with a lot of stress and anxiety, and eventually lead to Zekhu slipping into depression, that’s when he decided to cut ties with the industry altogether. It was one of the biggest challenges Zekhu has faced, “I inspire myself by looking back at what I have done and look what I am going to do next,” he said.

Growing up in a musicafamilyZekhu is inspired by greats such as Michael Jackson and Kanye West, who influenced his fashion and dance style.  “At 9 years old, I would pick outfits for my mother to wear when she would attend meetings at school,” he adds. 

Zekhu had also suffered from the impact that the covid-19 pandemic brought in people’s daily lives. He used to have paid gigs which became scarce, he said the lockdown period was tough, he saw it as an opportunity for learning and regrouping., “Time alone for an artist is the foundation of creativity,” Zekhu said.  

Zekhu is currently working on another project “Cozy Collection” which is also inspired by the photographs he has taken before. 


FEATURED IMAGE: Image of Zekhu Kheswa Photo: Alfonso Nqunjana






SLICE: Johannesburg will break, build you

The road to responsibility is one that we are all bound to take, and it comes with its negatives and positives. For me to come back to Johannesburg, was a decision that was based on events that acted as a double-edged sword in my life. 

Reflecting only on the bad experiences and telling myself that I would not come back to Johannesburg, I did not consider any life lessons to be drawn from the experiences. However, being back in the city and being able to do almost everything I wanted to do in 2017, I can see that the past experience has equipped me to adapt way better the second time around.

Growing up in Evaton West, a township in the Vaal Triangle where opportunities for the youth are few and a place the government couldn’t care less about, led me to consider moving to Johannesburg, where I thought I could kickstart my career as a photographer.

The younger me back then did not understand how to manoeuvre in the streets of Joburg, who to interact with and who to trust. I was enrolled at an institution named iCollege.

Having to travel to the Johannesburg CBD from the Vaal, some days I would squat at my classmate’s dorm as I did not have transport money. Travelling by Metrorail was another traumatic experienceas I would be forced to ride outside when the train was full, praying the whole time that I would make it home alive.

This ended up being a waste of my money and time because after completing the qualification it turned out that the college was not accredited for the course.  

This harsh experience, plus getting mugged on my way to Park Station and getting scammed of money and a phone in a banking queue, taught me a lot about Johannesburg. It’s what I see as a double-edged sword in my life, as these experiences broke me and, at the same time, built me. 

What made these experiences more traumatic was not having family to support me. I told myself that I would be better off completing my degree in the Vaal or another city or province, far away from Johannesburg. 

The city initiated me in a year to know how the world can be a cold place and that you are responsible for your own happiness in life. What I wished the younger me to have seen is that in whatever situation life places you, there is always a lesson, even in the mayhem. However, as the tinnybuddah website says: “Be kind to past versions of yourself that didn’t know the things you know now.”

My achievements from 2018 to 2020, which include acquiring a BA in communication from North-West University Vaal Triangle Campus, were a result of the hardships I experienced the first time I came to study in Joburg. Today I see the city of gold through a different lens, as a hub for creatives in the artistic fields that I desire to be part of, as well as an opportunity to study at one of the biggest universities in Africa.

The diversity in culture, lifestyle and way of doing things as I perceive it now is more unifying of various cultures to bring a different taste of life to the city and introduce a new culture. I gained this new perspective while travelling in and around the city taking pictures, and I found that I could be part of that new culture.

The Alfonso that is here today came back because of what the younger me experienced and what the younger me gained, which has made me the person I am proud to be today. I am no longer afraid of the city and now understand that life may not go as planned, but through all that, I should keep my chin up. Now I can honestly say, I have been through the most and I am ready for what life keeps bringing to the table, instead of running back home as I did before. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Alfonso Nqunjana


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