Born Mzwakhe Kunene in a place called Cato Manor, Madala soon relocated to a township near Durban, called Kwa-Mashu, after him and his family had been evicted by the Apartheid government. Despite being born into a family of fervent academics Madala refused to spend so much as a day at school, opting to pursue his joint-love for soccer and music. After initial forays into imitating Western music Madala quickly tired of the restraints that came with it, and soon began writing and playing his own brand of South African folk music that he would go on to perfect. Madala has shared the stage with legends like Doc Mthalane, Songamasu, Shor Phillips, Mankunku Ngozi and Busi Mhlongo, as well as featuring on guitar in great albums by the likes of Sipho Gumede and Mandla Masuka before going solo in 1988.
Despite the pressure to adopt Western music influences Madala has refused to give in to commercial whim, choosing rather to draw influences from traditional Zulu folklore and culture. Madala continues to perform to audiences around the world, as well as collaborating with a new wave of South African folk musicians.
SA Heroes 2013- Lifetime Achievement Award
KZN DanceLink Durban Dance Awards 2012- Musical Services to Dance
Ethekwini Lifetime Achievement Award 2009
SAMA 2003 (Nomination) – Best Zulu Music
Hazelmere Jazz Festival 2013 (South Africa)
Paris Cultural Festival 2013 (France)
Cape Town City Hall Sessions 2012 (South Africa)
Splashy Fen Festival 2011 (South Africa)
Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007 (South Africa)
Fort West Village Heritage & Culture Festival 2004 (South Africa)