national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, November 16, 2015


(Professor Khabi Mngoma)

Esayidi TVET College proudly honours the cultural legacy of the late Professor Khabi Mngoma, a legend in South Africa’s grand tradition of choral singing.

Funded by the National Lotteries Commission, a concert featuring songs that Professor Mngoma conducted will be performed by a choir of 40 voices made up of unemployed youth from the communities of Port Shepstone and eMpangeni who have received monthly stipends in preparation for performing at this significant cultural event which will take place in eMpangeni on November 27.

Prof Khabi Mngoma was born in Troyeville, north east of Johannesburg on November 18, 1922. He grew up in a musically-fertile environment and came from musically gifted parents. His mother, Agnes Matutu Nyembe, was a schoolteacher and his father, David Zwelonke Mngoma, a virtuoso concertina-playing maskandi musician.

By the time Mngoma attained his last work post as Head of Music at the University of Zululand, he had worked in the cultural sphere as artist, teacher, publisher, organizer (of cultural activities), choir conductor and singing coach, historian, and administrator.

He founded and ran numerous music programmes, through his teachings and through music performances and concerts; he always strived to expand his pupils’ vocabulary and the audiences’ experience. He always incorporated what he believed was an acknowledgement of the dual worlds ... the African and the West, in which the ‘present-day African’ lived and firmly believed that the teaching of music needed to reflect this reality for all students of music.

For him, it was not enough to understand music solely for academic study. It was his experience that those learners who were high achievers in the music programme he ran, also excelled in Mathematics and English, Biology and Geography and other academic school subjects. He also found that many of these learners developed a keen sense of responsibility and citizenship, compassion and empathy, respect for self and others, and generally were an asset to their communities in a myriad ways.

Prof Mngoma, who died in 1999 at the age of 77, founded the Music Department at the University of Zululand in 1975. He also started the Ford Choirs in Contest in 1977 which is now known as the Old Mutual National Choir Festival; established the Ionian Music Society in 1960; the Ionian Youth Orchestra in 1969; and the Khongisa Youth Centre for the Performing Arts in 1976.

He was a valued member of the Roodepoort Eisteddfod panel, as well as an active member of the SAMRO Music Committee while having a long association with the University of South Africa during which he made considerable contributions to the teaching of music in schools as well as the training of choral directors. He is also the father of singer Sibongile Khumalo and musician Lindumuzi Mngoma.

The concert will take place at the Embizweni Hall in eMpangeni on November 27 at 18h00. Admission is free and all are welcome.