Music Discipline Hosts 17th African Cultural Calabash Festival
The African Music Outreach Community Development class within the School of Arts hosted its virtual 17th African Cultural Calabash Festival under the theme Asibuyel’ezimpandeni Zethu - Going Back to our Roots.
Director of the African Music Project Dr Patricia Opondo said, ‘This annual festival is held under the umbrella of the University’s African Music Project, giving third-year students an opportunity to plan, organise, and manage a cultural event. Students gain experience in all aspects of event planning such as securing artists, drawing up artist agreements, and fundraising, marketing, and publicising the event. With this year’s show taking place during Africa Month, the theme Asibuyel’ezimpandeni Zethu - Going Back to our Roots provided a renewed connection with our vibrant and diverse cultures.’
She noted that the ‘Lockdown due to COVID-19 has been very challenging for artists and many groups. Some of the artists featured this year experienced a sense of reawakening and excitement for a paid performance on a concert stage.’ In Opondo’s class, students put theory into practice in preparing for future work in festival curation, management, and arts administration.
Third-year student and Calabash Chair Ms Thobeka Sibiya was excited to be part of the highly-anticipated concert. ‘This year’s theme celebrates pride in promoting African cultural heritage, which cultivates a spirit of becoming greater human beings by uniting us, especially through music and dance. With this theme, we hope to bring back love, unity and a sense of Ubuntu. We chose artists who invoke emotions onstage and they lived up to all the hype and delivered a spectacular performance.’
The festival began with indlamu group Usikompilo, then young star Njabulo Mbonambi, popularly known as Mbomboshe took to the stage. He is an alumnus of the UKZN African Music and Dance (AMD) programme. Themba lami is the title of his hot new single.
Bavikile Ngema (Intomb’endala) played the African bow instrument Umakhweyane. Ngema has performed both locally and abroad in Germany and Namibia. She currently teaches in the UKZN AMD programme.
The Joy, an acapella male vocal quintet, completed the festival line up. They are a popular Afro Soul group with a strong following on social media.
Opondo congratulated students who featured in the successful 17th Calabash edition. ‘It’s exciting to mentor enthusiastic students who featured in the festival and then to have a magnificent end product which we all proudly take collective ownership of. The ability to present online concerts during the ongoing restrictions for indoor live concerts in many venues is still difficult but in the cultural sector it has been rewarding. Well done Team Calabash!’
Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela
Photographs: Sethu Dlamini