my best festival experience this year definitely was in South Africa in the city of East London, nowadays called Buffalo City, during the first big Maskandi festival on 2nd March 19….what an amazing pow wow of tribes! Ngiyabonga!
The program was spread over the whole day, from noon till midnight so I only had the change to witness only a few artists and dance groups….here is my impression of that magical day.
Dorothy Masuka was one of the great South African jazz singers of the 1950s. Together with Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba she became an iconic singer and writer of memorable tunes like Pata Pata, Kwawuleza and Into Yam. Many of her songs were recorded by artists like Makeba.
“ Her music was the soundtrack of some our most joyful moments, the light of or souls during our darkest hours” said Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s Arts & Culture minister following her death.
Masuka had been suffering from complications related to hypertension, after having a mild stroke in 2018. One of her last stage performances was at Winnie Mandela’s funeral in that same year.
Go Go Suffering
Dorothy Masuka was born in 1935 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Her parents migrated to South Africa when she was 12 years old. Despite her parents’ disapproval, Masuka dropped out of school at 16 to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer.
She signed a deal to record with Troubadour Records and after a spell with the African Ink Spots she left for Zimbabwe to join The Golden Rhythm Crooners. But she was soon on her way back to Johannesburg and in the train she penned ‘Hamba Hamba Nontsokolo’ loosely translated as ‘go, go suffering’.
The song became her biggest hit and one of the most popular songs of the 1950s. It is regarded as an African classic and remains her signature tune to this day. By 1953, when she was 18, Masuka was already a fully fledged professional musician and, along with Makeba and Hugh Masekela, she toured with Alf Herbert’s African Jazz & Variety Show and with the musical King Kong.
She also performed with the Harlem Swingsters in the mid-1950s and endeared herself to a wide audience with her provocative compositions that riled the apartheid regime. In 1961, the Special Branch seized the master recordings of her composition ‘Lumumba’ which paid tribute to Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo. She also dared to write a political song about the then Prime Minister Dr Malan and was exiled for over 30 years. In Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and the UK Masuka campaigned for the liberation of SA through her music.
After many years working as a flight attendant for Zambian Airways, she returned to South Africa at the beginning of the 1990’s. A few years later she was a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga Silver from the SA government. Dorothy Masuka was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in the US in 2002.
next saturday I will be travelling to East London, nowadays called Buffalo City, in the Eastern Cape province for the first big Maskandi festival in that era.
Maskanda or Maskandi is a Zulu folk kind of music, which has evolved and has become big in South Africa. Maskandi music is largely popular and mostly consumed in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, given its rich Zulu heritage and significance to the Zulu tribe. In popularity Maskandi is the 2nd top selling genre in South Africa, after Gospel music.
In Durban the genre is called ‘‘the music played by the man on the move, the modern minstrel, today’s troubadour.” It is the music of the man walking the long miles to a bride or to meet with his chief; a means of transport. Maskandi music tells us of many stories of society, about one’s view of life and personal experiences. This style of music is distinguished by an instrumental flourish (izihlabo) that sets the tone at the beginning of each song, in a picked guitar style and rapidly spoken section of Zulu praise poetry, called “izibongo“.
The content is not always praise, though, and with pop, house and other influences Maskandi it has become more about the story telling ethic and the modern migrant culture, than simply about the musical style.
It is the music of the man who sings of his real life experiences, his daily joys and sorrows, his observations of the world. It’s the music of the man who’s got the Zulu blues.”
This Saturday Zulu troubadour Phuzekhemisi is among the best-known practitioners of the Maskandi genre on stage. Other legendary performers are Mpatheni Khumalo and Bheki Ngcobo a.o.
National performers expected to perform include Phuzekhemisi, Khuzani, Mbuzeni, Amawele ka Mamtshawe, Nkunzemdaka, Shushubaby and Ntombethongo.
They will be performing alongside local Maskandi groups, Lumanyano cultural group, Sivuyile traditional dancers, 4×4 dancers, Ichawne Lebhaca and Gadla Nxumalo.
Also on the program is gospel music and dj’s like Naak-Musiq, Butho Vuthela, dj Welo, Blomzit, Mjazz, Yoba and many more.
The festival is scheduled to start at 9 AM. Check tickets and prices at Computicket.
Maskandi Festival 2019
2 Mar – 3 Mar 2019 08:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Buffalo City Stadium
Arcadia, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Bongi Makeba (20 December 1950 – 1985) was a South African singer/songwriter. She was the only child of singer Miriam Makeba with her first husband, James Kubay.
Makeba was born in South Africa. She recorded only one solo album, ‘Blow On Wind’ (pläne-records) before she died after a traumatic miscarriage in 1985. She was buried in Conakry, Guinea. Some of her songs could be heard years later in her mother’s repertoire. See and hear mother and daughter together on stage at the North Sea Jazz Festival 1980.
Bongi Makeba – Blow On Wind (pläne – 88234) released in 1980 -her only solo album produced in Germany by Conny Plank.
Bongi Makeba -Sikhumbula (Liberation)
Bongi Makeba -Kilimanjaro
Miriam Makeba left South Africa in 1959, after landing a lead role in the jazz musical King Kong, a tragic story about a boxer, Ezekiel “King Kong” Dlamini. After moving to the US, Bongi started a singing career with Judy White, the daughter of blues singer Josh White. The duo released a few singles in 1967 on American labels under the name Bongi & Judy. Although written and produced by some of the then big names, Bert Keyes and Ashford & Simpson, both singles did not stir up big waves.
With her American husband, Nelson Lee, she made two 7″ records in the early to mid-1970s that were more successful. “Bongi and Nelson” features two soul tracks arranged by George Butcher: “That’s the Kind of Love” and “I Was So Glad” (France: Syliphone SYL 533) & “Everything For My Love” and “Do You Remember Malcom ” (France: Syliphone SYL 532).
the dance performance Via Kanana by Via Katlehong / Gregory Maqoma premiered during the Dutch Festival Julidans 2018. The performance is African dance with a sombre message and a touch of hope.
Soweto-born Gregory Vuyani Maqoma took up dance in the late 1980s as a refuge from the political tensions in the township, and quickly began excelling. He embarked on his formal dance training at Moving Into Dance Mophatong in 1990 where, in 2002, he would return to serve a five-year stint as associate artistic director.
Today, Maqoma is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and scriptwriter. He has also distinguished himself for his artistic collaborations, including working with British-based choreographer Akram Khan and the London Sinfonietta, as well as South African fashion designer David Tlale, singer-songwriter Simphiwe Dana and theatre maker Brett Bailey.
Still to be seen: march 2019 in Kerkrade, Breda, Groningen, The Hague, the Netherlands during Festival Explore.
“Cion” another choreography by Gregory Maqoma will be part of the Holland Festival in June 2019.
Cion requiem of Ravel’s Bolero
Gregory Maqoma; in this work, I am drawn to Zakes Mda’s character “Toloki” the professional mourner from his beloved Ways of Dying as he further uncovers in his book Cion the story of the runaway slaves. In my interpretation, Toloki rediscovers death in a modern context, inspired by the universal events that lead to death, not as a natural phenomenon but by decisions of others over the other. We mourn the death by creating death. The universe of greed, power; religion has led us to be professional mourners who transform the horror of death and the pain of mourning into a narrative that questions what seems to be normalised and far more brutal in how we experience death and immigration. I am creating this work as a lament, a requiem required to awaken apart of us, the connection to the departed souls.
The first offering under the title “Requiem Request” was first presented at William Kentridge’s The Centre for the Less Good Idea where the idea of interrogating the music of Ravel’s Boléro using South African voices as a musical device to create a score.
From Saturday 5 January 2019, the second edition of Old Root New Routes will start with a festive New Year’s Concert in Amsterdam in the Amstel Church by Karima el Fillali with members of the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra.
This second edition of Old Roots New Routes again offers space for a new ‘underground’ with a series of concerts of remarkable semi-acoustic music companies. They are rooted in Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East and South America and have blossomed in the Dutch clay in recent years.
Tamala, one of the performing groups blends Senegalese musical heritage with Western modern influences. Surely one of my favorites, a concert not to miss….
Tamala Travelers between North and South
Barely one year old the group Tamala won two prestigious prizes for their debut album plus a performance at the famous British WOMAD Festival. The passionate trio brings an innovative repertoire, which propagates the Senegalese musical heritage and feeds on the eclectic input of Mola Sylla, Bao Sissoko and Wouter Vandenabeele. The texts of Tamala (‘traveler’ in Mandinka) are about personal questions, poetic journeys and a call to openness to others and respect for the environment. Tamala takes you on a journey where the sounds of violin and kora merge, and where Sylla’s voice is the guide that reveals the deepest of the soul.