Kerry Gibbs caught up with rising gospel singer Phakamisani ‘Pakie’ Thoko, to find out about his views on faith and youth development, and his latest album, Amaqhawe.
Phakamisani grew up in a God-fearing community in the small town of Ngqeleni in the Eastern Cape, so it seemed only natural that one day he would share this faith with the rest of South Africa. He firmly believes that gospel is not just about singing lyrics. “It’s a lifestyle,” he says, “it’s the life that I’ve chosen to lead.”
Phakamisani started out singing for his Sunday school choir, and later honed his talent in the main church choir. But credit must go to his mother, Nomasiko, who recognised her son’s gift and encouraged him to take it further by buying him a keyboard when he was 10-years-old. With no prior training, Thoko stunned his family and friends by teaching himself to play within a couple of weeks.
Now with his self-produced second album, Amaqhawe, on the way, Thoko is prepared to do some encouraging and guiding of his own. For aspiring musicians, singers or anyone with a dream, his message is pure and simple: “Don’t do it for the money; you must have a clear vision and follow it. Don’t do it for yourself – do it for the glory of God.
“What I’ve realised is that if you believe that you can make it, at some point, you will make it. The most important thing is that you never give up, be patient and whatever you want, go for it! As long as you know what you want and you believe in God, nothing will go wrong.”
Though he is now based in Johannesburg, Phakamisani hasn’t forgotten his roots. Together with his brothers, he runs an outreach programme in rural communities where he provides the youth with information that is otherwise inaccessible. Phakamisani says: “Having been born and bred in similar circumstances, I’ve come to realise that many people don’t have access to the information that we have. Many don’t even know that they can get government grants and financial help for education, etc.”
Phakamisani truly does practice what he preaches. Head down to your nearest music store to get a copy of his new album, due in July and hear for yourself!