Mbuso Khoza is a breath of fresh raw talent, born and bred eShowe, one of the oldest towns of the European settlement in what was Zululand kingdom. He is an award winning vocalist, song writer, radio presenter for uKhoziFM, columnist for IsoLezwe newspaper, university lecturer and the founder for the Afrikan Heritage Ensemble established in the year 2016.
Khoza is a very knowledgeable man about cultural heritage and has hosted a series of iSandlwana Lecture, this one comes after the Isandlwane Lecture: The musical. Which is described as time capsule that captures the emotions and issues that faced southern African communities in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This upcoming event of iSandlwana lecture seeks to teach more than bring the musical feel compared to last year’s musical series on the battle of iSandlwana.
Historic events like these are usually shared or written by non-African, therefore missing the feel of what may have transpired on that day if told by the west. Now, is an opportunity to feed from Khoza’s lecture and learn what can today’s Africans apply on their daily lives from the prehistoric war of iSandlwana. Where Africans are made to feel inferior because of their tortoise technological advancement compared to the east or west, but it should be highlighted how the yesteryears Africans were still able to defeat the Great Britain riffle armed army with just mere spears and cow shields. The selflessness of the fallen heroes must be taught and sang to echo even to the next generations of young Africans.
As young man who grew up post-apartheid in a small township of KwaMashu, away from the indigenous knowledge of the rural areas or walk the landscape and hills where historic wars like these happened let alone drink the rivers that our fallen heroes drank after defeating the British army. Like many in township schools and urban schools we grew up being taught African’s history at the top end. But, now is an opportunity to cut deep into our history told by a man whose heroic fore fathers’ genes runs through him. One could only hope that the spirits of the fallen heroes will engulf him to deliver this key note lecture to note for many more year to come.
Tickets to iSandlawana Lecturer at the State Theatre are available HERE
In the last two years, Covid19 hasn’t only robbed us of our loved ones, jobs and freedom of movement, but also music festivals that we normally see around this time. It’s the first time in two years that the South African State Theatre welcomes patrons to its annual Mzansi Fela Festival, without the dogmatic restrictions.
“Particularly the past two years, audience numbers dropped largely due to a limiting environment that came with COVID-19 restrictions. Gatherings were discouraged and people got used to staying at home. However, we kept shows and festivals going and even went at length to deliver content to our audiences through digital means to keep the theatre love alive, the South African State Theatre’s Artistic Director Aubrey Sekhabi tells Tha Bravado.
The Mzansi Fela Festival (MFF) which was found in 2007 celebrates its 15 years this year. The festival is in its final week of the 2022 instalment which commenced on December 1st and runs until this Sunday where renowned vocalist Thandiswa Mazwai will close it off. “Our people have missed the live performance spaces and the electric atmosphere that comes with being together. Hence we are welcoming them back with a diverse and star-studded line-up boasting musicians, comedians, poets, dancers, thespians and more for them to dig in,” says Sekhabi.
With this being the festival’s 15th year, Sekhabi says the disparity between this year and previous years isn’t that big. “Same festival, different artists – we have kept the same look and feel, with the exception that we included the Conversations with the Author, featuring the legendary Des Lindberg, chatting to us about his and her departed partner Dawn’s book, Every Day is an Opening Night.”
The past few weeks have seen the various stages at The State Theatre occupied by artists KB Motsilanyane, Zonke, Tumi Mogorosi, Mbuso Khoza, Zakhele Mabena, Pdoto & Blaklez, and comedians Thapelo King Flat Mametja, Trevor Gumbi, and Toll A$$ Mo. According to the Artistic Director, Zonke’s show has been the biggest in terms of audience numbers at this year’s MFF.
“Zonke Dikana’s concert happened on the 2nd of December brought us a full house in our biggest theatre, The Opera, a 1300-seater. The partnership with Banda Banda Agency brought us a convincing audience number, followed by other in-house productions billed under the festival. Mayibuye Community Outreach programme which is a developmental programme with 15 productions, has also brought quite a convincing number of audience since it started on the 1st of December 2022,” Sekhabi says. 1264 of the 1300 seats were occupied during Zonke’s performance. The Soil and Langa Mavuso also brought a steady audience to their concert.
The common thread between all the artists showcasing their work at this year’s MFF is their strong sense of identity, of being African. “Together with both independent producers, Banda Banda and the Akum Agency, we work together to curate the festival. The vision of the South African State Theatre is to be ‘The prestigious theatre of choice for a distinctly Pan-African Experience'” Sekhabi tells me.
The festival the stage for the future generations of artists through its legacy development programme, the Mayibuye Community Outreach Programme. This is a two-year mentorship programme, with the first year having communities/cultural groups allowed to present only South African classics. “This helps them to ground their work in South African theatre-making culture, and in the 2nd year are allowed to create/write their own works. All the works are presented at the SAST during Mzanzi Fela Festival. Testimony to the success of the programme, is the appointment of the SAST Associate Artistic Director, who started from the MCO community group.”
One of the stand-outs on this year’s line-up is Lifted- Let the blind sing directed by Zakhele Mabena, which is a theatre musical production featuring a vibrant cast of 12 artists with different disabilities and a five-piece band consist of musicians such as The Ga-Rankuwa Requesters which is a sextet of blind people. They are accompanied by mainstream artists such as SnowWhite, Tshepo Nkadimeng, Khwezi Sondiyazi, Maira and Sebenzile “Sebeh” Kuzwayo, and the award-winning songstress Nhlanhla Dube as a narrator.
“Our mission calls for ‘an entertainment destination of choice for inspiration, education and socio-economic transformation which is underpinned by our unique, engaging and diverse artistic offering that encourages audience growth and an appreciation for the performing arts’. We are inclusive to all creatives in their diversity and different abilities,” reiterates Sekhabi.
For more info about the Mzansi Fela Festival CLICK HERE
Maletsunyane Braai Festival is the biggest braai festival in Lesotho. It is an annual event that takes place on the last weekend of November, against the backdrop of the breath-taking Maletsunyane Falls in Semonkong which is about 115km from the capital City, Maseru.
The fall has been certified by the Guinness World Records as the longest commercially operated single-drop abseil in the world. Maletsunyane Falls has been listed by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the 50 most beautiful places to visit in Africa. Now the home of Lesotho’s Biggest Event.
Maletsunyane Waterfall, one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere with about 192m found in Semonkong. The water plummets into a spectacular gorge creating clouds of spray visible from afar.
My first experience of Maletsunyane Braai Festival was in 2017, as a camper; it was nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before. Resting on such a big body of water was overwhelming and soothing at the same time.
In 2018 they hosted yet another Festival which left attendees dusty, it is said that the field had no grass at the time and being the highest Braai Festival they were bound to experience strongest of winds. But that did not stop attendees from having fun and busking in all of that perfect imperfections.
When COVID hit the world, they too temporarily closed down. I believe this was a chance for the team to go back on the drawing board to fix a few things that may have went wrong the previous years i.e. ablution systems and the dust that took place.
The Maletsunyane Braai Festival team took it upon themselves to plant grass all those years when events were prohibited, they built flushing toilets and installed hot water showers.
Fast forward to 2022, a few friends and I attended the festival; the scenery while driving up the mountains was absolutely beautiful, the green fields, we drove past the very first village I camped at in 2016, Thabana Li ‘Mele (Which means A Mountain with breasts) The two rivers; Makhalaneng and Likoiling spring up at Koung at a place called Matśela-habeli (double crossing). They then come together to form Makhalaneng which runs down southwards to meet Makhaleng River (This is the River you cross at Ha Ramabanta).
It truly was amazing to witness first time campers enjoy themselves in the way that they did, not even the rain storm could slow them down.
The Music Festival
There’s no doubt that Maletsunyane Braai Festival ripped us off in this department. I’d like to believe that as the organisers they’ve attended more than enough Festivals for them to know how music festivals are curated. Their biggest mistake was moving from what the event was initially about BRAAI to commercializing it and incorporating a music stage.
The money we paid for the music fest was not worth the value of what they gave us. We arrived on Friday to no performances, no DJs, no Music for the most part of the afternoon and early evening, we had to rely on cars.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to no music still, throughout the day until late at night when one of the DJs we were looking forward to see (Da Starr) got on the decks. A few more DJs and a performance by Ntate Stunna graced the stage and only after those acts, the festival team proceeded to switch off the lights after performances, in that dark space; attendees had to find their way back to the camp site using their phones as flash lights.
On the day of departure, everyone who isn’t from Lesotho was preparing for the long hours on the road and the traffic jam at the border gate. The festival organisers saw it fit to have one of the big acts perform while the rest of us had exited the camp site. Had the performance been in the morning, then it would have been tolerable because we would have then saw Malome Vector’s performance.
Everyone knows that if a festival sells a music festival pass, this means the fest commences on the first day of the festival until the very last day. But at the Maletsunyane Braai Festival, the music and performance department started to operate only from Saturday night.
When walking through the campsite, you could hear attendees lamenting on how things are actually done here because this isn’t the nature of festivals they knew or appreciated especially because they bought two tickets (One for performances and one for camping) but it seemed we had to curate our own music fest within the campsite that was allocated to us. Which wasn’t a problem for those of us who are able to camp without music playing in the background.
Stick to the braai & camping theme, IT WORKS effortlessly.
It’s 2022 and they still insist on not putting all their energy into that, those non flushable toilets posed an extreme health hazard because the team refuses to offload them as frequently as they need to. One of those toilets fell and no one from Maletsunyane Braai Festival team cared enough to look into that, even after I sent them a WhatsApp text giving them a heads up.
I don’t have much complaints about the flushable toilets and showers, those were clean, neat and in good condition; I definitely appreciated that. I also understand that they only use that site once a year when they are hosting the festival, it wouldn’t make sense to have a 100 showers and loos for just 3 days. However, a decent number of them should be added seeing that the festival keeps growing in numbers.
Employ more young people to assist with scanning tickets upon arrival. Also, brief the staff on how things should go, no one told us where the camp site was; there was no signage that guided us to where we needed to be.
None of your employees had answers to any questions we had, something as simple as “Where can we buy water and wood?” The answer we received was “We’re not sure if we have those for sale” until we actually found them on sale.
There was no uniform for those who work at the festival so that we know who to approach. I saw more Vodacom employees than I did those of the Maletsunyane Braai Festival. The women who made sure that the toilets are clean and that we have warm water in the showers the entire festival, thank them for me. We appreciate them, kakhulu futhi.
What broke my heart was learning that the Maletsunyane Braai Festival team did not care enough to allocate accommodation for these women or transport for them to go home when they knock off 10pm (according to the women I spoke to). One of them said they would only be addressed that day (on the last day of the Festival) as to why they weren’t given any accommodation.
Instead, they had to sleep outside behind the showers by the fire because that was their only source of warmth . I thought that was just inhumane and a sight their customers should not see. I sat and spoke to those women for a good 30 minutes, this makes me wonder if their sponsors know that Maletsunyane Braai Festival employees slept outside an open field in that cold and after that rains storm. This isn’t to demotivate the organisers in any way because that festival is legendary and important to us who value what they do.
Any organisation that manages to pull in people from SADAC definitely has my support and we’ve seen in the number of people who actually were present. This to shine light where you may have not seen, I’ve seen how hard it is to host a Festival but I also know that some things can’t be taught because Ubuntu esizalwa nabo. Treat your employees with dignity.
There were men walking around with huge guns, we were not criminals nor were we at a concentration camp… We can’t randomly bump into dudes with such big ammunition at any given corner. Haibo!!!!!
The guys who were responsible for checking tickets between the stage and the camp site, those dudes should wear UNIFORMS!!!, Yes it was cold kodwa ingubo bafwethu, we can’t even tell who works there and who doesn’t. Please!!!!
The Braai Stands
After the rain storm, people made their way to the stage, I followed late at night only to almost trip by a braai stand that didn’t work throughout the Festival. I counted close to 10 people who fell because they were tripped by those braai stands . That’s dangerous!!!!
Siyabonga kakhulu for a beautiful weekend. We will see you again in 2023, we look forward to building and growing with you.
Drumming genius Tumi Mogorosi will this Friday present Group Theory: Black Music for the people, with the people, at the People’s Theatre in the Jo’burg Theatre precinct. “I started out in a choir,” says Mogorosi, as he reflects on the significance of Black voices in concert.
“There’s this idea of mass, of a group of people gathering, which has a political implication and the operatic voice has both a presence and a capacity to scream, a capacity for affect. The instrumental group can sustain the intensity of that affect, and the chorus can go beyond improvisation, toward communal melodies that everyone can be a part of.”
If there is what is called genre, the political signature that Mogorosi’s Group Theory: Black Music installs, is an aesthetic that blurs this fixture, this category, this fuss. Mogorosi speaks to the signs of the times by way of critical takes, responses, diagnosis, and perpetual questioning. In this upcoming performance, Mogorosi and his ensemble are coming together to make an offering.
Mogorosi offers reflective encounters of black study in communion and assembly with the audience. This gathering is about taking a journey together and pausing to reflect, taking in what is offered, digesting, and then moving forward to a destination unknown. By inhabiting the theatre as a space, Mogorosi invites us to be part of the ensemble, to bear witness to the album not only in a live setting but with new ears, in silence. This is the currency of generativity, an experiment that provides “extra” — the lyrical application, the exit of the whole that is genre; that is, the political re-reading of the work of art. We are invited, therefore, to come and absorb together, in silence and joy — black study.
The album is in lineage with the black radical leanings of the South African songbook and tradition. Worth noting, also, is its explicit resonance which bears the stamp of what Fred Moten and Stefano Harney refer to as “black study” The work of an ensemble is what Mogorosi offers, and that is why the titling is apt — Group Theory: Black Music.
The album carries traces of Amiri Baraka’s robust but tender communal thought. Mogorosi’s titling critiques the very idea of individuation, and calls for the invitation of the common project. It is only in the context of the ensemble that the common project can be discerned. By way of gathering, the album, as a site of study in a theatre setting, will be a performance that is not in the name of the event but the continued project.
Here, in anticipation, and thus through the protocols of black study, the marked barrier of what is the stage and the auditorium will be blurred. In the invitation of communally sharing, Group Theory: Black Music gestures at making possible the aural experience as a whole bodily sensorium. By pointing towards deep listening, this is an invitation to be in the realm of silence. Mogorosi and the ensemble speak in the name of this silence — by fulfilling the liberatory impulse of this long black radical tradition. The music that erupts, that chants and speaks and weeps from this silence, is what will be shared.
Art director Noluthando ‘Texture’ Lobese might have long left the DiepCity set, but she was recognised for her work on the telenovela winning the Art Direction award at this year’s SAFTAs. “Our vision, determination and team’s effort is what’s paying off today. Hard work is meaningless without a vision,” Lobese tells Tha Bravado.
Losebe left DiepCity in January after spending only one season. “I resigned end of January
from DiepCity. I felt that I had served my purpose and it was time for other people to breathe
new life and energy for season two,” she says.
DiepCity is produced by the award-winning creator and director, Mandla N of Black Brain Productions. The story explores the struggle of four young women trying to make their way in the world. In February last year before building the set, the art department went to Diepsloot for research to understand the living conditions and environment. “The props and the furniture we got it from Diepsloot. We got it from the community of Diepsloot, which was amazing,” Lobese shared with me. DiepCity will end after two seasons, with the final episode set to air on Friday 3 March 2023.
Lobese’s work on the tv show, which was a first for her, brought a lot attention of Lobese’s incomparable skills. “Most people have had an interest in collaborating with me while I was shooting DiepCity. However, it was not possible at the time because I was dedicated to Diepcity and it was a delicate art piece I had just created, so I needed to see it through,” Lobese says. “However, after my resignation I collaborated with various Directors and DP’s which is refreshing.”
Lobese is somewhat of a nomad, whisked off to various places by her work. “I like going to places where no one knows my name, learn a new language. Learn to crawl and walk as a reminder of where we come from.”
She’s currently on holiday in Brazil, but she was in Kenya for the past few months. “I was invited as a production designer by Mpho Thwala and the entire team was from there. Art Director, Costume designer and Make Up Artist all Kenyan. What a wonderful team to work with.”
Lobese can’t disclose more about the production since it’s still in post. “We finished [shooting] in July. It’s always wonderful and challenging to work away from home. You need to have an open mind and open heart,” says Lobese.
She is currently a Costume Supervisor for a production in London, UK. “Still in pre prod and unable to disclose.”