For the love of African Music and Dance
An unwavering passion for African Music and Dance (AMD) was the impetus for musician and choreographer Ms Thabile Buthelezi who was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Drama Performance Studies degree at a UKZN Graduation ceremony.
Buthelezi received six Certificates of Merit in African Music and Dance in the following modules: AMD1A – ngoma and gumboot dance, AMD2A – umkhweyana bow, AMD2B – timbila xylophones from Mozambique, AMD 3B – mbira from Zimbabwe/Final year recital, African Music Outreach: Music Education and African Music Outreach: Community Development.
According to her Lecturer, Dr Patricia Opondo, Buthelezi has distinguished herself in African Music and Dance and played a key role in the University’s Cultural Calabash, a service learning cultural production mounted by final year students majoring in African Music and Dance.
‘Since 2011 she has choreographed for Ikusasa Lethu – the professional touring ensemble of the African Music Project. With Ikusasa Lethu, she travelled to Peru, has performed for President Jacob Zuma, for the Provincial leadership in KwaZulu-Natal, and at COP17, Ushaka Marine World and the International Library of African Music Instrument Exhibition opening at the KwaMuhle Museum.
‘Thabile has collaborated with a number of internationally acclaimed artists including Eva Labrousse (Reunion Island), Jose Chemane (Mozambique), Jeremy Labelle (Reunion Islands/France). She presented such an outstanding final year exit recital that the external examiner deemed it fit to be broadcast on SABC. She has recently launched her own dance company DIBABZA and is currently on the part-time teaching staff in UKZN’s African Music and Dance, in the School of Arts, teaching African Music and Dance 1A Ngoma Dance,’ said Opondo.
Speaking about her passion, Thabile said: ‘The choice to do AMD was very easy for me because I come from a musical production background having been part of K-Cap (Kwa-Mashu Community Advancement Project) for 10 years now. My passion for performing arts has been inspired by a lot of programmes under K-Cap so I knew that I wanted to have a career in the industry making AMD my number one choice.’
Speaking about her undergraduate years at the University, Thabile said, ‘I’ve learnt so many things about performance arts and have gained so much knowledge and experience that has prepared me for the outside world. I’ve been part of productions in the Drama department and I’ve performed in almost every lunch hour concert under the AMD programme. I’ve received over five certificates of Merits in the AMD programme and my overall average has been increasing every year.’
She thanked her family, friends and UKZN’s Music discipline for their support and encouragement during her studies.
Her advice to other students is: ‘You should work hard and set a motto for yourself that will drive you to excel. Mine is to work hard and build my grandmother a house because she deserves it especially after all the hard work and effort she put into me and my son.’
Thabile is currently completing her Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology and researching on African Choreography, while at the same time continuing with her performance work with Ikusasa Lethu.
She hopes to make it big as an entertainer in the near future.
- Melissa Mungroo