THE BIG READ: Sipho goes to school
Dressed in a pair of cotton pyjamas, slippers and a silky gown, an unwell Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse opens his front door.
"You'll have to excuse my attire," he says apologetically as he courteously leads us into his lounge.
It's 12.30pm and he should be at Thaba Jabula Secondary School, sitting at his desk among his classmates - all adults pursuing their dream of completing matric.
But his busy personal timetable in which he has to divide his hours between school, rehearsals, gigs, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation's board of trustees and The Soweto Home For The Aged, has made him susceptible to the flu. He had to call in sick today and nearly postponed our interview, which he initially scheduled for prior to the start of his class.
"There's no preferential treatment there. My classmates and teachers, some of whom are young enough to be my children, know Sipho, not Hotstix. Hotstix doesn't exist," says Mabuse.
"I did not decide to leave school. It's just something that happened," says 60-year-old Mabuse.
"I started making music at school, but the demand for our performances was so great that we suddenly forgot we were students and became pop stars."
When he was in Form 4 (Grade 11) the band, The Beaters, which at that time consisted of his Orlando West school mates, Alec Om Khaoli, Selby Ntuli, Arthur Rafapha and Monty Saitana Ndimande, graduated from playing on school grounds to recording albums and touring the continent.
"The perks that came with that were enticing, especially at that age," recalls Mabuse.
"You have girls cheering you on and you suddenly have money - the type of money you've never known before. It makes you question why you need to study."
In the succeeding years, The Beaters gained international success and eventually became the vanguards of Soweto soul - a genre they created by appropriating and localising rock, funk and soul.
In 1985, two decades after he first appeared on the musical landscape, Mabuse embarked on a solo career that produced the critically and commercially successful hits, Burn Out and Soweto Jive.
"I don't regret following a musical path, but in hindsight, I believe I could've done both (my schooling and my music) ."
Last year he enrolled and registered to do six subjects: English, SeSotho, History, Geography, Economics and Ethnology, two more subjects than his teachers had advised.
"They said taking four subjects would be better for me because it would give me more time to focus on each subject, but I guess I was in a hurry to finish. But true to what my teacher said, I only managed to pass four.
"So when I went to pick up my results, my teachers said I'd done well considering that I took six subjects in a short space of time and had to balance studying with all my other commitments.
"But I wasn't too happy with my achievement. I know that I'm a bright student. That's one thing I know, so this year I need to work harder to pass the two I failed and the subject I've added," he says.
After Mabuse fulfils his dream of achieving his matric certificate, a dream he has harboured for almost four decades, he will attempt two more unfulfilled ambitions - to study anthropology at "a university like Fort Hare" and to write a book about African music and cultures.
"My concern is that there are always people who write about us (Africans/black people), but we don't write about ourselves, because we are not well-equipped to write and articulate our own stories, especially when it comes to cultural issues and the origins of our music.
"We have not gone out to do our own conclusive research that will enable us to impart knowledge around those things.
"That's why the interpretation of what our culture is about is understood from a Western perspective," says Mabuse.
"For instance, I'm a Motswana. Has anybody ever written about the Tswana music, how it came about, why it sounds the way it does? It's always white professors who write about topics relating to our culture.
''Where are the black ones?"