IT was a song that illuminated the festive season.
At a time when amapiano dominates playlists in Bulawayo, just as they do in other parts of the globe, the song titled Keneilwe provided a palate cleanser for those that they had been fed a sufficient of hits from the popular genre.
In Bulawayo, Keneilwe found itself being an unlikely bridge between older and younger generations, as those that grew up dancing to music from Dan Tshanda’s Splash brand found themselves swinging hips alongside the amapiano generation.
Dalom Kids, assisted by serial hit-maker Master KG and the sultry Nkosazana Daughter, had seemingly been resurrected, rolling back the years to when their music blared from every speaker in Bulawayo during any given festive season.
Unknown to party lovers and revellers, however, was that a battle was brewing behind the scenes for ownership of the song.
With the track, which was named Song of the Year by four prominent radio stations in Mzansi and has garnered over 11 million views on YouTube so far, now a smash hit, the original members of the Dalom Kids have come out alleging that they were sidelined in its making and subsequently its success.
The familiar lyrics of the song were written and sung by the members of the original trio, Magdeline Zungu, Jacqueline Rotwana and Petronella Rampou, who has since passed away.
The original song, titled Celebrate, was written in 2009.
Almost five years after the death of Tshanda, the ghost of Dalom Kids seems to have haunt the stable, Zungu telling a South African publication that while Keneilwe climbed the charts, as surviving old members of the group they had been shattered to witness that they had been sidelined.
“This hurts me so much because we were never consulted and I hear my song on the radio and television all the time,” she stated.
“It hurts because my kids always want to celebrate when they hear that song, but I cannot let them because, really, what is there to celebrate? It hurts me.”
“I’m very hurt by that,” she said. “If you visit (my home) and observe how I raise my children… it’s heartbreaking. I don’t even receive royalties for my songs. I last received royalties in 2021, when I was paid R500. That song, which we titled Celebrate to honour the years we have spent in the industry, was written in 2009 by Petronella, Magdeline, and me,” said Rotwana.
Meanwhile, a regretful Rotwana said she could not even afford to buy a cake for her daughter, whose birthday was on the horizon, which was made all the more painful by the fact that one of their creations was a smash hit.
“That song, which we titled Celebrate to honour the years we have spent in the industry, was written in 2009 by Petronella, Magdeline and me,” said Rotwana.
“Now someone else is reaping the rewards of our work. Someone else is enjoying our labour while we remain uncredited. We just want them to credit us and pay us for our work.”
The pair have reportedly initiated legal proceedings by conferring with their respective lawyers to address the issue.
Master KG, the brains behind the remake, said he did not know that he was not working with the original members of Dalom Kids when he went to studio to work on the track.
“I got in touch with Sylvia, the late Dan Tshanda’s wife, since I heard that she is in charge of the late musician’s work. We made arrangements to do the studio session. We reworked the song after she arrived at the studio with three women who went by the name of Dalom Kids. According to me, everything was done through Sylvia. I had no idea that there were other people involved because we had Dalom Kids in the studio,” he said.
Responding to Sunday Life, the Dalom Music stable said that only Rampou, the group member who had since passed on, would be getting royalties for the hit song.
“We regret the confusion and misunderstanding that led to a South African newspaper concerning the copyright and contribution of Keneilwe. We are writing this statement to clarify both issues regarding old members and new members of Dalom Kids. The song in question is a copyright of Dalom; produced, recorded and composed by Dan Tshanda and published by Dalom Music, as such Dalom holds all rights to use and reproduce the song. All members who contributed to the making of Keneilwe shall receive royalties for their contribution; this includes Petronella Rampou who shall receive royalties from PRO’s for the Remix and the original version, however, the former singers will only receive royalties from the original version,” the stable said.
Dalom Music said that Master KG had said that he had “taken into consideration of all parties involved and continue to respect and show love to the former members. They contributed a lot to the legacy and deserve respect.”
In an interview, Tshanda’s widow, Sylvia Tshanda, said she was not concerned about any blowback from former members, as they would also benefit from the success of the song.
“All parties benefit; the former members and the current members, for this has and is promoting both the original and remix. We are open to assist all members where we can; they are part of the legacy,” she said.
Unperturbed by the drama that now seems to be following the smash hit song, Sylvia said that they now wanted to bring the song to the one city where they knew that the Dalom Music brand had weathered all storms — Bulawayo. Dalom Kids posted a rate card on social media with images of the original band, stating that the band charges R70 000 for live performances, R50 000 for trackbacks, and R30 000 for appearances.
“We have some requests from some promoters in Zimbabwe and now we are just waiting on them for confirmation but definitely they want us to come to Zimbabwe and that is what we want as well,” she said.