How Sands Was Able To Achieve The Impossible With His Song ‘Tigi’

Listening to ‘Tigi’ by Sands, you might think you are just listening to an amazing song with a danceable tune, but it’s more than that, much more.

‘Tigi’ by Sands is remarkable because it did something that no other song prior had ever done– made SiSwati cool.

SiSwati is Bantu language spoken in parts of South Africa, Mozambique and Lesotho, however, it has very few speakers with the last estimate (2011) putting it at 2.3 million speakers.

What ‘Tigi’ did was open up the SiSwati language to so many more people. It enjoyed massive airplay on South African radio, even making its debut on Live Amp, one of the country’s biggest music shows.

How did this song done in an obscure language gain so much popularity? In an interview with Okay Africa, he highlighted the four major factors that made his song a hit including the language it was sung in not being a particularly common one; “Mostly it’s because it was a SiSwati song,” Sands mused.  “Two, the backing came from home,

“Thirdly, it’s a danceable song. Four, it’s a love song. It’s got all the elements and many genres in one—jazz, kwaito, house, it has everything.”

Sands himself was shocked at just how popular the song became stating in the same interview, “It’s a surprise, but also when you write a song, you always give it your all. I am diverse, and it will be clear as my career progresses, but yes I do specialize in afro-soul.”

“I’ve received great feedback on the album. I’m actually speechless,” he added. “What I like is that people have their own favorite songs apart from ‘Tigi’ and ‘Vuma.’”


Sands started his odyssey in music in high school when his brother-in-law bought him a guitar and taught him some chords, he went on to teach himself and even studied music.

Another huge factor in the popularity of ‘Tigi’ was how well it was promoted;  “[We went] on a radio tour in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Mozambique, because we felt it had potential. Everyone who had heard it had said it was nice,”

Sands explained that singing in SiSwati was also due to the possibilities of more opportunities for him,  “I thought I would have more opportunities than any other languages,” he said. “SiSwati is also an official language in South Africa, but it hasn’t been explored much, such that people in Mpumalanga are like, ‘Oh wow, thanks, man, finally we have something in SiSwati, now we can’t be looked down upon.’

You can listen to ‘Tigi’ below:



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