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Tuesday, July 16, 2019


(Dr Mhlambi. Pic by Val Adamson)

The open-air winter sundowner concert of Dr Thokozani Mhlambi’s Early African Intellectuals as Composers of Music project will be held in the gardens of the Killie Campbell Library on July 26, 2019.

After a successful launch hosted in conjunction with the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology and subsequent sold-out performances at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown / Makhanda; the Early African Intellectuals as Composers of Music project is enjoying positive reviews among arts and classical music commentators, academia, as well as in the media.

The ground-breaking initiative is the brainchild of the internationally acclaimed Dr Thokozani Mhlambi (PhD, Music).

Launched in a seminar form to an audience of artists, creatives, music teachers, professors and media; the project was presented as a rich combination of intellectualism and creativity which fundamentally came about owing to a need to unearth, expose and honour African artistic heritage which would have otherwise remained buried and unremembered in the halls of history along with other African content that is shunned just because of its African origins.

“The intention is to go back to these ancient compositions and see how best we can deliver them today using the means that we have,’ said Dr Mhlambi during his presentation. He took the audience along on the journey travelled to uncover the archival related material to the compositions of early African intellectuals through a video documentary - the official introduction to the project’s digital campaign which, following the launch, forms the second and key educational component of the project.

Dr Mhlambi also rendered a solo extract from what he terms “The Ntsikana Moment” which honours and is a revival of Xhosa prophet, Ntsikana’s music. To close off the event, he together with opera students from UKZN delivered a piece by Reuben Caluza from the 1920s. Caluza was the first African to receive a music degree in the country. The piece called i-Land Act relates the tragic consequences of the controversial land act which many early African intellectuals, including Sol Plaatje and John L Dube, stood against.

Africans (and South Africans in particular) will learn about and indulge in the revived sounds of Ntsikana, Enoch Sontoga, Tiyo Soga and lesser-known woman composer Nokutela Dube, first wife of John L Dube. These compositions are among those that will be performed by Dr Mhlambi, who plays the cello and voice, and an ensemble consisting of strings, UKZN Music School opera students and award-winning jazz pianist Lonwabo Mafani, a student at the UCT’s College of Music.

The project has attracted interest from beyond South African boarders as researchers from as far as the USA have begun to engage Dr Mhlambi on the methodology and timing of the research and performance initiative.

The digital campaign can be followed on Facebook on the Early African Intellectuals as Composers of Music page.

The Durban edition of the main concert will be held in July at the Killie Campbell Library and the Cape Town edition in September. Final dates for the Cape Town are still to be confirmed and will be communicated to the media shortly.

The project is supported by the following partners: The National Arts Council, Afropolitan Explosiv, Urban Futures Centre at DUT and the Killie Campbell Africana Library, a part of UKZN.

The concert will take place on July 26 at 17h30 at the Killie Campbell Africana Library, 220 Gladys Mazibuko Road in Durban.

Suggested dress code: Afropunk (but dress warm!) Tickets on a Pay What You Can donation basis. Welcome drink on arrival

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