He’s partied with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, P Diddy calls him his brother from another mother and he has Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz and Usher on speed dial.
There’s no doubt Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo – better known as Black Coffee – is one of the continent’s top exports and he’s flying Mzansi’s flag high. Yet despite rubbing shoulders with music royalty, the high-flying hitmaker from Umlazi has his feet firmly planted on South African soil. So rooted is he to the country that shaped him, the superstar didn’t think twice when his old friend Kagiso Lediga called for a favour.
The comedic heavy weight and director was in need of funding for Matwetwe, his new film, and Black Coffee was more than willing to extend a helping hand. He’s a firm believer in paying it forward, he tells DRUM. “I don’t want to be known just as the famous guy who toured the world and met great people. I want to help to develop home, Africa.”
The 42-year-old recently announced on social media he’ll be heading back to school. He’s enrolled for a one-year online course through the Interior Design Institute. “I’m already working on my first assignment,” he says, clearly thrilled by his new project. “Education is important, but people shouldn’t be forced to study something they’re not passionate about, just for the sake of studying,” he adds. He plans to use his new skills to start his own interior design company.
The dream has always been there, now it’s a matter of making time to tick it off my bucket list.” In between hitting the books and heating up the party capital of Ibiza, where he has a residency, the music maestro has his wife, Enhle Mbali Maphumulo (31), to help hold the fort. “I’m blessed with incredible women in my life,” he says. “My wife and mom-in-law (Bongi Mlotshwa).
“My wife is my partner in crime. I’m blessed to have someone who loves and understands the entertainment industry. Everyone goes through their moments of sadness or being down, but we’re always supportive and real to one another.” The two met in 2010 on the set of SABC1 drama Tshisa where she was working, and Enhle is Black Coffee’s day one. Three months into their relationship he proposed. “Being in love makes the journey easier,” he says.
He’s travelled the world, impressing on global stages with his sets, yet home is where the heart is. It’s where he spent his childhood days milking cows, going to school and daydreaming of having Michael Jackson visit him. It’s also where his grandmother, Eveline Dangala, raised him. “I had a tough childhood and my grandmother was a disciplinarian of note.
She instilled discipline in all her grandchildren. And although she was tough, she was the realest person I know. “For her, there was no room for sugar-coating bad behaviour – those are the values I live by.” Black Coffee has passed those same values onto his children, Esona, Lilitha, Anesu and Asante. Being away so frequently is tough, says the hands-on dad. “I grew up without my father, so I make sure I’m there for my kids. I love school drop-offs and random movie nights.
But I am also strict.” He may be world famous but but to his family Black Coffee is a regular dad who values African culture. That’s why he’s so excited about his big plans to branch out into an online streaming service this year. “Gongbox will be a great platform for people to access African films, documentaries, and music,” he says. It’s something that’s sure to appeal to youth like Esona. He lights up as he recalls his eldest son’s coming-of-age.
Esona matriculated last year, Black Coffee says, and headed straight to the initiation school. “Him going to the mountain and me being present on his journey was very special. He did things the way they were meant to be done. “He made it, he survived all the teachings and I now believe he can withstand anything,” he says proudly.
“My son got a taste of the real world. Just because his old man is Black Coffee doesn’t mean he gets a free pass and he can skip some lessons. There are some things I won’t be able to teach him.