Piracy a blessing in disguise as musician graduates with degree

    Benson Ntlemo

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    Well known Xitsonga musician Siya Chauke was forced to return to school at the age of 40 after realizing the debilitating impact of piracy on the music industry.

    Chauke who has been a musician from 1999, bearing nine albums to his name got capped with a Bachelor of Education in Further Education and Training (BEDFET) from the University of Venda last Friday.

    Not only did he obtain his qualification at the age of 45 but also recently acquired a job for the first time in his life.

    During his study period, he was funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and today, he is a Maths and Science teacher at Mahumani High School in Giyani in Limpopo.

    The much acclaimed guitarist says had it not been the rot in showbiz where artists’ works are sold in a cheaply manner by pirates and in return, the owners of the works not getting anything for their hard work, he would not be a teacher now.

    ‘I thought I had a lifelong career as a musician but five years ago, I took a decision to go back to school because of piracy,” said Chauke.

    “I realised that I was a popular musician who was not making any money,” said the singer.

    Chauke currently stays at an RDP house in New Orleans settlement under the Collins Chabane municipality and says it took him five years to complete his degree and in the duration of his studies, he did not record any album.

    “It was not easy going back to school as an adult but I got motivation from my Life Sciences lecturer Dr. M. Mpeta who was impressed that I was the oldest amongst my young class mates,” he said.

    He says he got a job in less than a week after receiving his results.

    “It was not going to be difficult getting a job as a Maths teacher,” he added.

    Being a person from a disadvantaged background and now that he is working, he has already acquired property in the township and will build a house as a way of re-writing history in his poverty-stricken family.

    “I think fellow musicians must take inspiration from me and go back to school because piracy has killed us (musicians) and we might no longer survive on our music careers alone,” he said.

    However, he is not planning to leave the music industry anytime soon. In fact, he says he will now get busy by recording his music.“Music is about promoting my culture and i will not cease to be a musician,” he concluded.

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