Cul­ture salute with Isandlwana

Mbuso Khoza to lead mu­si­cal spe­cial on Isandlwana bat­tle

The Star Late Edition - - METRO - MPILETSO MOTUMI @mane_mpi

A ONE-night spe­cial in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Bat­tle of Isandlwana is set to take place later this month.

Mbuso Khoza, award-win­ning artist and her­itage con­sul­tant, brings the his­tor­i­cal bat­tle of 1879 to life through mu­sic, with his Isandlwana Lec­ture: The

Mu­si­cal, which he de­scribes as a “means to af­firm the for­ma­tion of our iden­tity; that’s the main ob­jec­tive. It is not to glo­rify the Zulu na­tion, be­cause all of us fought in this coun­try against colo­nial­ism. So if one of us wins, we all need to come to­gether and cel­e­brate. It is not just a sin­gle-cul­tured ini­tia­tive.”

Khoza said that as a mu­si­cian, he had ob­served how the tri­umph had been widely com­mem­o­rated in KZN and that it was time that this was spread to other prov­inces.

“When you look at our po­lit­i­cal his­tory in the coun­try, all of us were af­fected by colo­nial­ism and later it was apartheid. So, for me, I think it will be dis­heart­en­ing to po­si­tion such a mem­o­rable his­tor­i­cal mo­ment in Africa as just a Zulu thing, be­cause we are faced with is­sues of trib­al­ism.

“As a mu­si­cian, let me play my part in try­ing to unify our peo­ple and speak about this event as South African her­itage and his­tory.”

The Bat­tle of Isandlwana saw Zulu war­riors con­quer the British army 140 years ago, on Jan­uary 22. This was the only time in South Africa that the British suf­fered a de­ci­sive de­feat.

“As a her­itage and mu­sic lover, I have al­ways been fas­ci­nated by songs and ac­tiv­i­ties from the past. I con­ducted re­search on Amahubo – the 17th and 18th cen­tury hymns that were sung by our peo­ple – and con­cluded that these were time cap­sules, fully en­coded with vast amounts of knowl­edge on how lead­ers and their sub­jects re­sponded to the ad­vance­ment of colo­nial­ists, and how this has led to the kind of so­ci­ety we have to­day.”

Khoza will en­gage the au­di­ence with in­ti­mate de­tails of the na­tional psy­che be­fore, dur­ing and after this his­tor­i­cal in­ci­dent.

He uses in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from the lyrics and har­monies that were writ­ten and per­formed after the Isandlwana bat­tle.

“What will be hap­pen­ing will be an in­ter­play of the past and the present.”

Khoza will be ac­com­pa­nied by the The Afrikan Her­itage En­sem­ble dur­ing the show, which will take place at The Fringe at the Joburg The­atre.

“Many artists in­clud­ing my­self, when we travel out­side Africa, are met with more ap­pre­ci­a­tion. I un­der­stand why. The bat­tle we speak of has an im­pact on how we look at our­selves. For ex­am­ple, in 1816, there was a way black peo­ple used to sing and that changed around 1879 when we had colo­nial in­flu­ences and started to sing like English peo­ple. The songs that were sung by Zulu peo­ple back then were of Angli­can ori­gin and that is not who we are. Now, when we travel over­seas and present the core of who we are, the au­di­ences are not used to it, so they ap­pre­ci­ate it more. It is time to do away with that, where you are seen as un­couth (in pre­sent­ing who you are).”

Khoza added that the mu­si­cal would be a demon­stra­tion of how “unity of pur­pose” achieved the al­most im­pos­si­ble, as Africans showed pre­pared­ness to lay down their lives in de­fence of their land.

The Isandlwana Lec­ture: The Mu­si­cal will take place on Fri­day, Jan­uary 25, at The Fringe at Joburg The­atre. Tick­ets cost R200.

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