Mbaki: Zim’s uncrowned king of sound

20 Apr, 2021 - 11:04 0 Views
Mbaki: Zim’s uncrowned king of sound Mbaki Nleya


HELLO H-Metro readers.

It’s quite humbling being afforded this opportunity to exchange notes  and share my experience as a sound engineer, multi-instrumentalist and audio assistant producer.

We are those people behind the scenes who makes things happen and still remain anonymous.

In my case, I think my journey will inspire others and give hope to those who are facing challenges. Read on…



My name is back Mbaki Nleya but many in my circles simply call me Mbaki.

I was born at Nyabira Clinic in 1985, grew up in Bulawayo and worked in Botswana.


I attained a Diploma in Music Technology.


Currently, I am studying at MSU for degree as well as running Audio Academy in the capital.


As a multi-talented instrument, I play saxophone, keyboards, bass guitar, violin, mbira and marimba.



As a sound engineer, instrumentalist and audio production assistant, I have a role to play locally for the benefit of the industry.


To be precise, my vision is to make Zimbabwean sound better during live events like broadcasting, filming and studio recordings through training and touching one person at a time.


To ensure that I win hearts of many and establish myself locally, I was the first to start a college that specialises in the training in Sound Technology (Sound Engineering, Music production and Sound design) in 2017.


The campaign for the college began in March 2014 by hosting one of the best sound engineering workshops in Zimbabwe, which attracted many representatives from all across the country.



I have since partnered with industry moguls for audio engineering workshops.


In my question to make an impression, I started an online music show called LOCAL CONA and co-produce an online music show called HOUZ OF GRUV, a brainchild of Trust Samende where I do the technical and production aspects.


I decided to venture into this initiative because I saw a business opportunity that this would be the first school in Zimbabwe hence ground in that area virgin.


However, our productions subject to sound in Zimbabwe be it live, broadcast, film or recordings many of them are somewhat compromised is regards to quality in comparison to other countries.



My dad and Wisdom Gwala have always been my role models ever since I was a little boy.


Years later, Jomo Mhone then helped guide the path in which I should walk.


And through association, I have met a lot of engineers who are great in their aspects and I learn from them as well, for example Tamie Bimha and Percy and Marinus Viser.

In fact, I am inspired by the need to be somebody who makes somebody see Christ through me.


I want to always pioneer everything that I do, I want to cause changes in a subtle but effective way.


I want my name to be a reference in time, I want a legacy whose effect is felt through generations, I want to impact the world through what I do as I impart what I know for the good of the people in my own reach and beyond. That’s what inspires me on a daily.


What drives me is that one day I will stand before men and before God and all will say well done.


In my family, it is considered a sin if you ain’t no musician.


My little sister Thobekile sings with Jah Prayzah while my younger brother Erastus: runs a recording studio.


My second little brother Prince is a bass guitarist while little second sister Taboka vocalist works Skyz Metro.


Lastly, my third sister is a Tariro vocalist, which makes our family musical.


I have always had an interest in the anthropology of sound, technology and music; it’s something which is in my DNA.


Besides sound engineering, I have just started farming.


Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic at play, it’s important to get multiple streams of income.



In my career, the first breakthrough I had was the idea of opening a media institution.


The second breakthrough was the grace to start and the third breakthrough was God’s favour to keep it sustained.


No one prospect comes out of the blue but through references, advertising and a solid foundation which is only achieved through relationships that add value to one’s agenda.


Every time anyone calls to enquire it’s a breakthrough, it’s a life of the miraculous on a daily.



I’m grateful that I am making inroads as well as establishing myself.


I am on a quest to make my own musicians through various platforms Houz of Gruv (now called Kulcha Houz), Lokal Cona and The Audio Academy Music & Arts Festival) I have created and others I partner with.


Most recent, I have worked with the likes of Allan Chimbetu, Rocqui, Cindy Munyavi, Audius Mtawarira, Josphat Somanje and many others.


To date I have recorded the likes of Slizer, Vee, Franco, Biza Mupulu, Jeff Matheatau, Mingo Touch, Tebbie, Caroline, A.T.I. Jujuboy, Ministry Of Defence Project (Musicians Against Crime), The Beatitudes, D.T. Winners Chapel Church, Kabelo Eric, Buhle Hlangulela, Mc Maswe, Abie-Christ Etc.


I have done live sound for Zahara, African Jazz Pioneers, Micasa, Lira, Benjamin Dube, Winnie Mashaba, Kgotso, Solly Mahlangu, Oliver Mtukudzi, Audius Mtawarira, Salif Keita, Sello Malete, Lister Boleseng.


I have produced TV shows like Battle Of The Chefs Tv Reality Show in 2016, The Letter movie, ZTN post productions and ZBC heroes concerts live stream etc.

in my case, sound engineering is a source of livelihood.

I deliberately chose not to be a practitioner but multiply myself by training others.


Starting a college whose vision is seen only by you aint easy but it worth it.
However, a lot has changed in my life for instance people who I talk to, time spent with family has been affected, as an entrepreneur the journey to establishment is a lonely one.


It’s funny how society celebrates when one gets a job but say nothing when one starts a business, very funny I must say.


I’m one person who is not afraid of competition and I am always comforted by the fact that Lobels and Bakers Inn are competitors yet they at times fail to satisfy the entire market, competition is healthy and always keeps one on check and pro-active.


You will always have clients no matter the number of players in the business.

    Ove the years, I would always cherish the Lira Lira, Live at the Botswana Craft, which was my first regional gig.

I panicked and almost messed up the sound as I felt it was very sensitive, that is make or break me, Lira said on her microphone, its fine you got it right first time.



I wouldn’t use the word challenges, rather points in life that help me refocus.


Those are there and they help me go back to my business plan to re-adjust, foster new relationship, adopt new methodologies and be reminded that God is the backbone of all I do.



My special advice to fellow practitioners or would-be sound engineers is that at every job or business you should either earn or learn.


One is fine both is best, but if it’s neither, quit. Support other businesses that feed into yours first.

Thank You!

  • NB: Celebrities or celebrities’ managers intending to contribute to this column and share their stories, contact our Entertainment Desk on 0774119633 (calls/sms) or WhatsApp (0719119633) or email [email protected]


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