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Black Coffee’s bitter lessons



JOHANNESBURG — DJ Black Coffee has spoken out about growing up with an abusive father, watching his parents’ marriage fall apart and losing the use of his left arm.

He is the subject of a new documentary called Origins, which is part of the Real Scenes series created by independent electronic music website Resident Advisor.

In the 22-minute documentary, Black Coffee — Nkosinathi Maphumulo — talks about growing up in Durban’s Umlazi Section K.


In 1988, he and his mother moved to her mother’s home in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

“There was a big fight. It is one of the things I remember,” he said.

“There had been many fights before, but this one was the biggest.

“I remember my mum started packing our stuff.”

He finds it hard to reconcile his memories of his father quietly reading the newspaper with those of a man who became physically abusive when he’d been drinking.

His mother, Faith Dandala, says in the documentary: “His father was a nice gentleman and the only weakness was his drinking. He was very abusive.”

Their move to Mthatha is something Dandala has come to regret, she says.

Two years after settling in Ngangelizwe Township, the then 13-year-old Maphumulo was involved in an accident that changed his life forever and seriously threatened his dream of becoming a pianist and DJ.

It was February 1990 and South Africa was celebrating Nelson Mandela’s imminent release from prison. The teenager was among thousands of youngsters in the streets of Mthatha to celebrate the news.

A taxi driver rammed into a group of people who were dancing and 16 people were injured, among them Maphumulo.

He was later diagnosed with brachial plexus injury, a condition that resulted in the impairment of his nerve network on his left arm.
His friends say he never lost his focus. One of his cousins, S’busiso Ntshangana, says in the documentary: “He would say to me, ‘You know, Sbu, sometimes my dreams scare me’.”

The DJ says he’s long preferred to let his music do the talking, but “opening up to people and talking is something I have been learning”.

The documentary is available online

– City Press

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