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Saturday, August 10, 2019


The concert was directed by Claire Mortimer with great focus and cascading precision. (Review by Philisiwe Twijnstra)

The Playhouse Company's Traditional Extravaganza Concert took place last night (August 9, 2019) as part of the Playhouse's annual Women's Arts Festival.

What a way to celebrate Women’s Day with musicians such as Dr Nothembi Mkwebane, Tu Nokwe, Izingane Zoma, and Vumile Mngoma. These traditional voices have been part of our childhood lives, playing on Radio Zulu. Now as woman in 2019 I understand how important it is to be exposed to such pivotal figures in the arts.

Traditional music connects many South African audiences, which makes us nostalgic and no matter what background one is from: Maskandi is a tale for the heart, which warms and makes one laugh and nod while listening to the opening strum of the guitar. Maskandi music speaks about daily experiences, it is known as the Zulu Blues, also known as folk music. We were blessed with songs of heartache, women empowerment, sadness and love. The concert was directed by Claire Mortimer with great focus and cascading precision.

The opening act that set the bar to higher voltage was Vumile Mngoma with strong presence, and guttural singing voice and catchy lyrics with a zest of mawkishness. The Playhouse Opera was a thunder of song and dance. Surely felt like an experience like no other, to be in Vumile Ngoma’s presence. Her energy and singing is impeccable and interchanging.

(Right: Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane)

 An absolute legendary carpet set up for Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane, an Ndebele sensational music phenomenon. An Ndebele traditional singer, she is internationally well known for her beautiful cultural Ndebele attire and Ndebele coloured guitar. Dr Mkhwebane embraced the audience with Ndebele choreography which is similar to Zulu dance, but Ndebele dance has a tinge of softness and sharp lyrical movements. Which was a delight to imitate although I proudly failed tremendously.

Songs like My Dudu reassures the love a man has for his wife…songs like ‘Nizogcina ngokuhleba, angeke nangitshela emahlweni’ empowers one to be not bothered by gossip, because that is what it is … just gossip - they will never tell it on your face. Dr Mkwebane‘s music explores women’s beauty, her beauty as a woman is mesmerizing and how she skilfully masculinize that guitar is a sight to witness.

(Left: Tu Nokwe)

She was followed by Tu Nokwe daughter of the legendary Pattie Nokwe. Tu pays tribute to her mother with songs that were not released because Pattie Nokwe passed a year ago. Tu Nokwe is a full round performer, she has the audience on her palms. 

She connects the stage to herself. Her songs are woven with storytelling of how she was born in songs. Each guitar string sound waves and vibrates to each and every person in the audience. Her music is not about entertainment, but stories. During her performance Tu Nokwe shares stories with her guitar. She sang Redemption Song. Which sent the audience to a frenzy and she ended her with her classic song Inyakanyaka.

Ingane Zoma are legendary and their music was coherent with tonight’s theme. Advocating women’s beauty and empowerment. Combining an energetic choreography that encases every thrum to every music in our bones.  The audience was favoured with powerful, energetic songs. Ingane Zoma’s music touches on domestic themes and encouraging young girls to take care. It is also fair to add that the encouragement should be about boys as well. They need to take care as well. However, the night ended with a vibrant energy. So glad I experienced this greatness.  – Philisiwe Twijnstra