Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Prince Siboniso Zulu of the Zulu Nation (right) watches an Indian relay race Friday afternoon from the Edison Real Bird Memorial Complex bleachers in Crow Agency. Also seated are his fellow travelers from Nongoma, South Africa, Nkokhelo Msomi (left) and Mokai Malope.Don Andrews, a producer for Interesting Human Media, interviews Mokai Malope from the back of KMBF music director Dark Sevier’s truck. Interesting Human Media is in the process of filming a documentary about the Zulu visitors and their radio station.KMBF music director Dark Sevier walks by his  news truck in Crow Agency. According to Sevier, the KMBF station creates a platform through which the “personality” of Butte, Mont. can flow.

Promoting ‘cultural exchange’

Zulu Prince Sbo travels to Crow Reservation for Native Days celebration
Before he came to Crow Native Days and witnessed the collisions, leaps, dust and chaos that characterize Indian relay, horse races didn’t pique the interest of Prince Siboniso Zulu. His outlook changed – for at least a moment – Friday afternoon as he cheered from the Edison Real Bird Memorial Complex stands while trained equines charged around the track and their riders prepared to jump to the next horse.
 
By the end of Native Days, held Friday to Monday, rider Leo Hugs of the lime green-clad Goes Ahead Pretty team would take the championship by about 15 horse lengths. The prince, a member of the Mandlakazi section of the Zulu royal family, didn’t need to wait that long to decide he had witnessed something special.
 
He had already seen horses march through Crow Agency and heard an introductory speech by Crow Chairman Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid. After the rodeo, as the sun went down, he would witness a swirl of dancers in traditional regalia at the tribal powwow.
 
“I really feel I have grown today,” he said.
 
Zulu, often referred to as “Prince Sbo,” flew from his home in Nongoma, South Africa to Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Mont. on May 19, where he was welcomed by about 30 radio DJs. According to the prince, it was his first time leaving his home country, now an estimated 10,000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean.
 
As manager of his own town’s radio station Nongoma FM, Prince Sbo arrived for the purpose of a “cultural exchange” with the United States over the radio waves, a phrase he regularly expresses using online hashtags. Accompanying him were the station’s current affairs presenter Nkokhelo Msomi and its financial consultant Mokai Malope.
 
He founded Nongoma FM in 2011, Prince Sbo said, to “intensify the sharing of information within the community and [to help young people] become the voices of change” through education and entrepreneurship. It reaches an estimated 72,000 listeners, according to the station website, with the tagline “We play / you listen.”
 
Nongoma, a rural market town with a population of around 7,600, faces issues commonly associated with the Crow Reservation. These include challenges with water services, unemployment, education and infrastructure.
 
“Coming from South Africa, sometimes we think we are the only people who have problems,” Prince Sbo said from the stands in Crow Agency. “We’ve realized that there are also problems here in America, particularly for those who are Native Americans.
 
“We will share our problems and ideas with the Americans, and then we’ll see if they have come across such challenges. They may give us strategies…on how they overcome those challenges, so we can go back home and apply [them].”
 
Those greeting the Zulu visitors at the airport included personnel from “America’s Most Radio” station KBMF. The station’s music director Dark Sevier struck up a friendship with the prince while mistakenly trying to expose him as a con artist performing an offshoot of the “Nigerian prince” scam. Sevier – a former Los Angeles stand-up comic – began “trolling him really hard for three days,” he said, but Prince Sbo was persistent. 
 
“I was posting our exchanges online as a joke because I figured, at some point, he’s going to give it up, right?” Sevier said.
 
Their dialogue came to a head in September 2016, when Sevier found himself addressing the South African people on the “Clark and Dark Show,” his Thursday night program that had originally drawn Prince Sbo in with its guitar music.
 
“I was going to talk about this Nigerian scammer who was posing as a Zulu,” Sevier said. “Twenty minutes before the show, it became very clear that he was actually a Zulu prince.
 
“I still didn’t really know until I got home and our Facebook status jumped 32,000 percent.”
 
As of June 5, KBMF now broadcasts a world affairs program on Wednesday afternoons, hosted by Msomi. It will be continuing through the summer.
 
As for their story itself, a documentary company called Interesting Human Media committed to filming what is currently called “Untitled Zulu Nation / Butte Montana Project” in April. According to one producer Don Andrews, the company intends to show the film at Butte’s Covellite International Film Festival, held from Sept. 12-17. 
 
Information on KBMF may be found online at www.butteamericaradio.org/. To learn about the documentary, go to http://interestinghuman.com/.
Comment