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NWU alumna makes her mark in the music industry

North-West University (NWU) Vanderbijlpark Campus alumna Bonolo Phiri is a woman with two loves: information technology and music. Throughout her career, this IT graduate and rising Afro-soul star has seamlessly bounced between her IT career and music.
NWU alumni Bonolo Phiri is an IT guru and rising Afro-soul star and also pursues songwriting.
NWU alumni Bonolo Phiri is an IT guru and rising Afro-soul star and also pursues songwriting.

A white-collar worker by day and musician by night, she started singing at church at the tender age of nine. While honing her music skills in 2019, the 27-year-old’s music caught the ear of Sounds of Joy Records, who recorded her debut single, “Ngimtholile”. In 2020, Phiri released an EP called Reflections, which she says was inspired by the highs and lows she faced in life.

“I narrate my life through my songs. I also celebrate my victories through my music,” says Phiri, who takes her inspiration from R&B and House singer Bucie Nqwiliso.

Phiri admits that since she started singing, she has always had an internal struggle on which path to choose – music or IT. She says she later found that her IT and music careers complemented each other.

“Having to make a choice between music and my IT career was a tall task. I am grateful I chose both. I love both careers and I find that they supplement each other. I use music to escape from the boredom of computers, and IT to escape from the chaotic lifestyle of showbiz,” she says.

Phiri, an academic prodigy since primary school, not only pulled her weight in the classroom, but is doing it on stage too.  She is a sought-after performer and has shared the stage with big names, including KO, King Munada, Nokwazi and Major League DJs, among others.

She says her parents did not have to fear her lagging behind in her school work. She learnt multitasking at a very early age, as she had to balance her church choir duties with her studies.

“Balancing my music and academic life taught me how to prioritise tasks. This is a skill that has helped me in my career too,” she says.

She encourages artistic students not to throw away their textbooks for the microphone.

“Education will never go out of fashion. It is a great thing to fall back on when things do not work out in the cutthroat music business. Never abandon your studies for showbiz,” she advises.

Phiri credits the NWU for giving her the tools she needed to succeed in both her IT career and the music business. “Studying at the NWU opened my mind to new opportunities and people I would otherwise never have met. The NWU truly shaped the person I am today. It gave me pearls of wisdom that I carry with me every day.”

1 Feb 2021 11:41