A Youthful conversation with Mkay Music
Written by Brooklyn Masuku on 16 June, 2023
Our very own Mthokozisi Mbele known as Mkay Music, iGraduate leGagasi is one of the most passionate and, thriving multimedia personality who has successfully worked on highly respected productions in and around Durban. He has contributed an astonishing amount success towards the betterment of the entertainment industry, while being a seasoned radio personality on the No.1 Regional Commercial Radio Station in South Africa, Gagasi FM. This is evident that as young as Mkay is, we can say that he is amongst the young people who have opened doors for generations to come.
As a young public figure, who has also joined multiple groups of youth leaders at various nonprofit organisation, he is an Activate Change Driver, who believes that Youth Day must not only include conversations that acknowledge the struggle and those who died so they could be “born frees” in a democratic South Africa, but must also confront current problems and needs that translate into meaningful action to empower their futures.
The youth of 2023 are not as complacent and selfish as society often accuses them of being. We sat down with the host of “Umsindo Takeover”, unwrapping a youthful conversation on Youth Day:
As youth month is a time to celebrate and commemorate the youth’s contributions, how do you think we can ensure that their voices are heard, and their achievements are recognized beyond this designated period?
This youth month to amplify young people’s voices and /or accolades beyond just the month of June we ought to create more awareness of some of the platforms like Forbes 30 Under 30 that celebrate young people in all industries, from a local community level as well – having programs that allow for dialogue amongst young men, women, children irrespective of social backgrounds and also investing in young people should be a priority and exposing them to avenues that will take whatever talent they have to the next level should be a norm and so far that is lacking.
As a young graduate & radio personality yourself, how do you think the entertainment industry can better represent and portray the experiences of young people today?
Social media is the new playground for representation of any media artist in any industry. I think the entertainment industry perpetuates what a “poster superstar” should look like and do and there needs to be a self-evaluation that’s encouraged amongst artists/personalities because young talent loses their mandate in this entertainment industry because they think they should look like this or be this. Firstly, replicas never last and secondly it is tiring to be something/someone you’re not. Living in your purpose isn’t outdated and the entertainment industry should be a custodian of that message so that it doesn’t hop around trends that destroy instead of build confidence in South African entertainment.
In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges that young people face, especially like yourself in the entertainment & media industry, and how can they overcome them?
Imposter syndrome, financial constraints (either not knowing what they’re worth or being exploited in the name of exposure) and gate keeping. Host symposiums where there can be a showcase and exchange of ideas, views and concepts between the young generation and experienced one that have made it, an accessible media house that scouts/prioritize TALENT and not money or who knows who, financial advisors who’re a call away and can educate young artists on money and lastly life coaching is important for just direction and truth because not everyone will be a superstar or some have the potential but they lack self-belief.
How do you think the youth can play a more active role in shaping the future?
Honestly, the youth is already playing a huge role in shaping the future. We are socially influential, corporately innovative and becoming business pioneers driven by the entrepreneurial spirit. What is left, is for the government to do its job and not lose young talent to other countries that are focusing on being developed and not drop the standard.
What are some important life lessons that you’ve learned as a young citizen on radio, and how have they influenced your perspective on youth-related issues?
Radio has taught me a lot about being disciplined and understanding the power my words and how I can impact someone’s emotions, mood and perception through my personality on the airwaves. This has helped shape my idea of social media and how I should be abrasive when tweeting or commenting on someone else’s post, how I need to account for my words after posting whatever because there is someone reading that on the other end who will be affected somehow by them.
Could you share a memorable experience you’ve had while working with young radio presenters or on a project that specifically focused on youth themes?
I recently had the opportunity of being a guest speaker at a Youth Career Expo this month, and one of the things I said in closing was “We are the people we’ve been waiting for,” that is the attitude young people today possess or should possess, if we need something done right, said right or delivered right-we are the people who will do it and we’ll do a damn good job at it. So, on air and off air, that’s my experience.
How do you balance your personal growth as a young individual with the demands and pressures of being an actor in the industry?
I allow myself to experience life beyond the four corners of my work/passion. I have a family, friends, and hobbies and so I need that “me-time” to break away and reboot. I also don’t take everything I see or hear at face value; I research and consult my peers before I entertain it – not every opportunity that is before me is for me, and I shouldn’t feel pressured to do more than I can do.
Are there any projects or initiatives you are involved in that aim to empower or uplift young people? If so, could you tell us more about them?
Thus far I’ve worked with Limitless Academy at their career expo, and I hope to collaborate with them on more upcoming projects, I am also a member of UMhlathuze Rise which is a project that aims to uplift music talent in UMhlathuze by giving them the opportunity to work with experienced producers to release their original music and showcase their talent commercially. I’ve been part of the UMhlathuze project since it inception and we’re currently working on volume 2 set to be released before year end.
The younger generation contributes to their communities, which builds an ethos of positive and engaged citizenship where young people become activists for good, activists for changing the lives of our people.
Let me say this and say this with the utmost conviction: the nation owes you a clear policy and practical measures to ensure that the younger generation contributes to, and benefit from, our new democracy. Nelson Mandela
Happy Youth Day! ✊