He is blind, broke and uses scraps as instruments, but Richard Mbaso considers himself to be the Stevie Wonder of the streets.
For him, with a little imagination, the Port Elizabeth streets are his stage – and Mbaso, 44, could not be happier.
Having moved to Zwide from KwaZulu-Natal two years ago to be with his domestic worker wife Mbaso, he has already raised enough money through donations to start recording his first gospel album.
He can usually be spotted in Summerstrand armed with his guitar, sporting beer caps on his shoes and using plastic containers for drums.
Next to him lies his music sheets, all in braille.
“I can read and write in braille,” Mbaso said.
He also carries a radio with him so that he can listen to the morning and afternoon news when giving his voice a break. Born blind in 1972, Mbaso said he taught himself how to play the guitar, drums and keyboard.
He also sings. Blind American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder is his idol.
Mbaso worked as a switchboard operator for 10 years in Durban but could not keep up with the job due to insufficient equipment.
Having followed his wife to her city of birth in 2014, he became bored sitting at home playing the keyboard and decided to hit the streets.
“It is boring at home in Zwide. Here I at least have an audience to appreciate my music,” he said.
A friend gives him a lift to his spot of choice most mornings, where Mbaso remains to play his music until about 3.30pm.
All songs are self-composed.
“My keyboard is too heavy to carry with me so I made my own instr uments,” he said.
Mbaso then relies on tips from the public.
“I am trying to raise funds to record a gospel CD,” he said. “I have already managed to pay for three songs to be recorded. I am now aiming for 15 songs on my CD.”