Xolani Kunle ready for the stage: 6-year-old shares passion for calypso

Xolani Kunle loves to sing the calypsos of legends such as Lord Blakie, Sparrow and Calypso Rose. - SUREASH CHOLAI
Xolani Kunle loves to sing the calypsos of legends such as Lord Blakie, Sparrow and Calypso Rose. - SUREASH CHOLAI

Xolani Kunle's love for calypso will have you thinking it is Carnival right through the year. The six-year-old, second-year student of Barataria Anglican Primary School is an only child. He lives with his mother and extended family in Barataria. His family was there to support him and enjoy a performance he put on for Newsday Kids.

Xolani has been singing calypso since he was three. He first got to like calypso after his grandfather started teaching him how to sing. Xolani's grandfather, who he calls "Baba", is Makemba Kunle. His Baba has been an artist for over 50 years and works on Carnival shows like Dimanche Gras. Xolani spends most of his time playing with and learning from his Baba.

He enjoys singing calypso classics by Lord Blakie, Calypso Rose, The Mighty Shadow and others. He sang Blakie's Steelband Clash and Rose's Fire Fire, beating a high-chair to mimic a battle, and giving a shout of alarm as if calling out to neighbours in a spirited rendition. "I love all the songs I could sing all day," he said.

Though Xolani does not like to sing soca, he sings extempo. He has not written any of his own songs yet, but Crazy wrote one for him to learn.

When he is not using his creativity to sing, he paints at his Baba's art studio. Xolani's mother is also an artist. He said, "I started painting long before I could remember. Maybe I was three, or four. But I have to keep practising so I will get good like my Baba and Mummy one day."

Xolani Kunle works on a painting at his home in Barataria. - SUREASH CHOLAI

His first painting from his collection is one that represents the human world and the underworld. Xolani has always been fascinated with folklore and history. He can even list the freedom fighters.

He said, "It all started with a Baba and the book Cote Ce Cote La by John Mendez."

"My favourites are La Diablesse, and Papa Bois. I like Papa Bois because he takes care of the forest.

"I don't like douens or lagahoo because those stories are too scary."

When it comes to school, Xolani enjoys doing his work, but especially likes mathematics, vocabulary, comprehension and language arts. He said, "My least favourite part of school is standing for prayers and the anthem.

"It feels like I'am standing still for a zillion hours."

He has not decided what he wants to be when he grows up yet. He said, "I have thousands and 'bousands' of choices to pick from: calypso, art, cricket, football, folklore or history."

Xolani and his Baba plant a garden which includes mint, white lavender, vervine, bhaji and ochro. All of which they use in their home.

His creativity is not limited to painting and singing, Xolani is also learning to play African drums.

Xolani Kunle takes a break from performing and painting to ride his bike. - SUREASH CHOLAI

"When I'm not singing, painting or playing drums; I like playing football with Baba and riding my bike in the yard. But I can only do those things after I finish my school work."

"And I like to cook too!"

The young all-rounded creative is also learning to swim. He said, "I really like swimming, but I don't get to do it often and I'm only now learning but I want to get better."

Xolani is far from shy, but he is very mannerly.

"I learned my manners from my Mummy and Aunty Pam."


"Xolani Kunle ready for the stage: 6-year-old shares passion for calypso"

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