Yeoville Radio
Gig Seeker Pro

Yeoville Radio

Johannesburg, South Africa | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | INDIE | AFM

Johannesburg, South Africa | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Alternative Afropop




"P.O. delivers out-of-the-box African rap"

...and a track inspired by the 21st anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison, called Mandela the Symbol.
PO (Kwela) wrote the song after last year’s heated Mandela Day Facebook debate he was part of and after noticing how opinionated and divided the youth and the older generation were when talking about the icon. With the ongoing mixed feelings on the decision to put Mandela’s face on banknotes, this is topical.

“It’s a neutral song, but it reflects on what the man symbolises. We need to debate this, but we need to go beyond the politics.' - Times Live (South Africa)


I remember being awe-struck by a picture I saw in on the Sunday papers somewhere around 2005. The members looked militant in their shades and flowing locks. There was a sense of urgency in the female lead’s look which stuck with me: black shades, black beret, all-black everything! They reminded me of Peter Tosh and the Dashiki Poets at once, with a hint of the Black Panthers Party to smother the masses. They were Kwani Experience, a band which had been bubbling in Johannesburg’s underground music circuit for a hot minute before being picked upon by a record label, releasing two albums, and somewhat disbanding.

Somewhat, because Kwani’s gone through many phases.

While some members have gone on to pursue other interests, there’s still a core connection which bleeds through different their various musical pursuits, be it on vocalist/percussionst Bafana Nhlapho’s two-step cross-continental wails, or multi-instrumentalist Mahlatse Riba’s explorations into the deeper elements of roots sound as one half of the house music project Sai & Ribatone.

Kwelagobe Sekele, Kwani’s emcee who now performs as the P.O. Box Project, has recently released his Maru EP which he refers to as a “digital Kwani sound” in a Mail & Guardian feature tracing the trajectory of the black band over the past decade.

Maru is the culmination of over six years’ worth of stop-and-start recordings, all the while sharpening that very concept. The initial sessions were with Ribatone, but P.O.’s focus shifted onto other projects. - Africa' s A Country


Kwelagobe Sekele hits up my Facebook inbox a few hours after I’d sent him an e-mail. He wants to know whether I’ve received the reply, which I have, but have yet to acknowledge receipt. He’s fresh off a weekend performance at the Soweto Theatre, which saw him collaborate with former Sankomota drummer Sello Montwedi. It was also a mini-reunion of Kwani Experience, the influential band he fronted throughout the 2000s. The gig turned out amazing, if the photos and video evidence are to be trusted.

Kwela had been PO Box since his Kwani days, so maybe he thought to switch it up altogether. Address him as Yeoville Radio henceforth.

How would he describe this new project, I ask via e-mail.


“Yeoville Radio is Kwela and his imaginary pirate radio station that plays whatever music we wanna play. On the real though, it’s Kwela and whoever is keen to work and make boundary breaking music,” he says in response. A few months earlier, we’d kicked it on some lo-fi tip one off-beat day in Jozi. He’d broken it down to me like this: He was tired of the city; of Joburg. He sought to be elsewhere, some place where he could practice his art freely. Or maybe he’d said he needed to breathe, I can’t exactly recall.

A shit-load of dope things have happened since then. Through it all, Kwela hasn’t lost the militancy, the urgency of Kwani Experience. And his politics have percolated, too. Following a recording session he organised to respond to the 2015 xenophobic attacks, he said the following: “I feel like it’s more Afrophobia, because whatever happens — all the attacks and all the violence –is directed at Somalis, Zimbabweans, Zambians, and other people from the continent. This song is the voice, and it’s the voices of all those migrants experiencing that Afrophobia in a city that was built by migrants; in a city full of immigrants.” - African Hip Hop Blog



Yeoville Radio is the new solo project by  based South African vocalist and producer Kwelagobe ‘Kwela’ Sekele. It is the 6th release by the former front man of the band, Kwani Experience. This bold project is a fusion of Kwela’s musical influences: Afro-beat(s), indigenous music, early SA pop hits, praise poetry, hip-hop, synth and electronica. Kwela also spends a lot of time in Canada where he has family. 

Named after Yeoville, the Johannesburg suburb turned township, Yeoville Radio reflects on the vibrant and frenetic experiences of the pan-African economic migrants that occupy the community. Songs in the project are laced with polyphonic grooves, trans-lingual vocals, South African colloquialisms and street flair. Kwela vocalizes the contemporary African experience from the perspective of living and walking the streets of Johannesburg.

The Yeoville Radio live experience is charged by the creative energy from the schizophrenic streets of Johannesburg and fuelled by its forever changing urban sound-scape.    


Band Members