UKZN African Music and Dance Students Host Multicultural Concerts

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African Music and Dance students perform onstage.
African Music and Dance students perform onstage.

Third year African Music and Dance (AMD) students at the School of Arts hosted a series of virtual concerts as part of the African Music Project, under the directorship of senior lecturer Dr Patricia Opondo.

The performances were broadcast as pre-recorded events on African Music Project Facebook, attracting a large audience.  

The first concert titled Ingwe Idla Ngamabala featured five performers:  Phethile Ngema, Nombuso Buthelezi, Zanele Majozi, Dumsani Fakude and Thulani Nkosi, who each presented vocals, dance and instrument playing, ranging from percussion pieces to Nigerian dances to Isicathamiya.

Ngema said: ‘AMD has grown in numbers which makes us more powerful on stage. The variety in our repertoire was also a highlight. The concerts are a platform for the students to showcase and celebrate the beautiful, multilingual and polyphonic menu of sounds and dance movements that South Africa and Africa have.’

The next concert was themed Enchanting Diverse Africa which showcased multicultural diversity in Africa and featured Mzwandile Msibi, Sizwe Xulu, Silindile Mthembu, Siphesihle Shoba and Nokubonga Xolo.

Msibi performed an Amahubo piece depicting a South African Zulu war cry and played the bow instrument uMakhweyane.  Xulu’s music piece showcased a different type of Amahubo, a Zulu wedding song about a bride’s journey to her husband. He also performed an original composition of a Sothu dance piece and later in the concert played the maskandi guitar.

Mthembu sang an African popular music song Esonweni (in the midst of the sin, temptation). Her dance piece was a celebration of African contemporary and African dances through dance body language. Shoba’s music piece Umvumo was a rendition of Zulu traditional singing. He also played a percussion piece titled Playing for Rain and performed an iJadu dance.

Xolo performed an Inkondlo (poem) with tones of emotional prayer music, and a poem titled Umthandazo womfelokazi (a widow’s prayer). She also showcased a percussion piece called Kuyaphilwa (playing for healing) and did an Isibhujwa, which is a mix of ekasi (township) and isipansula dancing.

The final concert themed Modern Women, Ancient Roots was a celebration of women in Africa and featured students Xola Kunene, Zama Mlambo, Sphindile Ngcobo and Bongiwe Phori.

Kunene represented women who have special connections with their ancestors; Mlambo showcased women from eSwatini, portraying a Swati goddess with a Swati traditional dance and music; Ngcobo presented a piece on uMkhehlo, which is a Zulu traditional ceremony performed for a Zulu woman who is about to get married, while Phori portrayed Sarafina, a South African teenager who fought against apartheid with her schoolmates in the Soweto uprising. The Sarafina dance was created by the youth of South Africa while boycotting being taught in Afrikaans.

Speaking about the concert and going virtual, Opondo said: ‘The 2021 edition of the 3rd year AMD lunch hour concerts demonstrates the amazing talent and efforts the students put into the concerts where they are expected to present original repertoire or arrangements of traditional songs and dances.  In addition to this, they prepare their own costumes for their shows, and I must say how impressive they were. We have a wonderful cohort of extremely talented performers and hope that this experience will encourage them all to extend their online presence as emerging artists and be part of the larger global conversations and networks that the online digital platform presents.’