HIGH NOTE

CityPress - - Front Page - SBU MKWANAZI news@city­press.co.za

A Mu­si­cal Trib­ute: The Man­hat­tan Brothers, which is run­ning at the Soweto Theatre, with a last per­for­mance to­day at 8pm, com­mem­o­rates the el­e­gant 1940s and 1950s. The Man­hat­tan Brothers was the first South African mu­si­cal group to crack the US Bill­board charts, and this paved the way for the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and oth­ers. The cast for this trip down mem­ory lane in­cludes Mmatema Moremi, Happy Motha, Bubele Mgele, Bonginkosi Motha and Mluleki Chuma.

As with most so­cial and cul­tural events, the open­ing of The Man­hat­tan Brothers Trib­ute (at the Soweto Theatre un­til to­day at 8pm) had a theme: the El­e­gant 1940s and 1950s.

Be­sides my wife, in a vin­tage skirt com­ple­mented by an old-school fas­ci­na­tor, and my­self in check­ered pants, braces and a bow tie, no one else both­ered to dress up for the oc­ca­sion. They must have had the clas­sic South African­ism: “Theme for what? Theme for who?”

As so­phis­ti­cated and world-class as the Soweto Theatre is, there is still such a stark dif­fer­ence be­tween the cul­ture of theatres in the ’burbs com­pared with those in the kasi. In the kasi, theatre is not seen as much of an out­ing, but rather as part of ev­ery­day life (hence the in­dif­fer­ence to dress up I sup­pose).

In the ’burbs, it’s about who you are wear­ing (not what), with which celebri­ties or in­flu­encers raise a par­tic­u­lar pro­duc­tion’s ap­peal, and the best pose for a selfie.

On the other side of the spec­trum, wit­ness­ing a lit­tle-known a cap­pella quar­tet called Com­plete per­form a trib­ute to The Man­hat­tan Brothers proved just how much pure tal­ent and pas­sion re­sides in our town­ships. The au­di­ence had a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what Mluleki Chuma, Bubele Mgele, Bonginkosi Motha and Happy Motha pulled off.

Fre­quent­ing a town­ship is also a re­minder of how badly we need to start cel­e­brat­ing out­stand­ing black in­di­vid­u­als. How many peo­ple to­day know that The Man­hat­tan Brothers were the first South African group to make the US Bill­board charts, and that they paved the way for the likes of Miriam Makeba – poignantly por­trayed by last year’s South African Idols run­ner-up, Mmatema Moremi?

While tak­ing in the magic that was The Man­hat­tan Brothers, I could not help but agree with the no­tion that telling sto­ries is what Africans are best known for. How­ever, ar­chiv­ing is un­for­tu­nately not one of our stronger points.

Can we at least start by record­ing such mo­men­tous shows at our kasi theatres?

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