UKZN Celebrates 15th Annual African Cultural Calabash
African Music and Dance (AMD) third-year students under the directorship of senior lecturer Dr Patricia Opondo hosted a successful 15th Annual African Cultural Calabash Festival under the umbrella of the African Music Project.
The free event was online on the African Music Project Facebook Page which is open to the general public.
The theme for this year’s festival was UBUMBANO – Africa Unite!
Mr Anele Gansa of the Calabash Organising Committee said: ‘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.’
The artist line-up included Glo Mapenzi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, known for his sweet guitar sounds and vocals. Mapenzi is a soulful singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and recording artist. His headline piece was a fusion of South African and Congolese grooves, titled Africa Unite!
Young generation guitarist Hloniphani Mthethwa, known by his stage name HlonipaniArt, thrilled the audience with his guitar riffs. He is making headlines locally and internationally.
Another stellar act was Red Lights, a vocal acapella ensemble comprising mainly UKZN students. They presented an enchanting set of acapella songs with beautiful arrangements and choreography.
UKZN’s African Music and Dance third-year class presented a set of Chopi and Macua choreographies and songs from Mozambique which synthesise a variety of music and dance styles, a fusion that demonstrates both the roots of African people and modern applications of traditional music.
Bringing the concert to a close and enthralling audiences were the Kangaroo Zulu Dancers who showcased their indlamu choreographies and acrobatic routines. Their gravity defying acts have taken them to a variety of countries, and seen them win countless Zulu Dance competitions.
Ms Nomthandazo Makhanya of the Calabash Organising Committee prepared the African cuisine that formed part of the Calabash festivities. ‘We chose African traditional foods such as isigwaqane, usu (tripe), ujeqe (steamed bread), isitambu (samp), amadumbe and ubhatata. Since the concert showcases African authenticity, these dishes fitted perfectly.’
Opondo said: ‘Curating the 2020 edition of the Calabash was a challenge in light of the global pandemic but I’m so pleased that we managed to put together a wonderful programme through digital streaming of the festival, which gives us a broader, global reach.’
The festival highlight was the headline song Umoja Africa Unite, especially composed for this year’s calabash edition by Glo Mapenzi.
‘Students joined him on stage waving African flags and in a variety of African attire to celebrate diversity and unity as Africans. To further this, there was a fashion show highlighting some of the diverse African costumes in the UKZN African Music and Dance Programme.
‘A memorable Calabash edition indeed, and the beginning of many new ways of celebrating our rich African heritage,’ added Opondo.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Sethu Dlamini