African music tours Mozambique

4 Aug 2016 - 15:30

During the June vacation, nine members of the UCT Ibuyambo Orchestra visited Mozambique. They were hosted by well-known musician, teacher and UCT alumnus Matchume Zango. The trip was part of a cultural learning exchange initiated by the students, made possible by South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) through their Concert SA initiative, by the South African College of Music and through student fundraising efforts.

The UCT Ibuyambo Orchestra is comprised of undergraduate and postgraduate students on the African Music section of the South African College of Music. Ibuyambo’s performance style explores the use of different Pan-African instruments (modern and traditional) in unusual combination. “The idea is that multiple instruments with multiple sounds, colours and textures can produce a blend of indigenous music and this is what we wanted to explore and workshop in association with Timbila Muzimba and members of the Warethwa Association,” said Thandeka Mfinyongo, who has been a member of the ensemble for three years.

Cebolenkosi Zuma, Ernie Koela, Sky Dladla, Ndapandula Lukas, Thandi Dube, Thandeka Mfinyongo, Nisha Sibeko, Aphiwe Memani and Odwa Bongo travelled to Maputo to participate in two weeks of music collaborative workshops and performances with Zango’s group Timbila Muzimba. In addition to these workshops, students were able to interact with local Makonde, Tonga, Chopi and Gaza musicians who taught them rural song and repertoires. One such workshop saw the students learning how to make tradition Mozambican musical bows called Chitendes, an instrument that is made from a hard yet pliable wood that grows in remote areas of Mozambique. Students enjoyed the instrument workshops and said that they had learned a great deal from the experience. “The sound-quality is just so different from that of South African bows…it made us realize how much those old craftsmen knew…yes, a musician needs to understand how an instrument is made. We are all the better players for getting involved in this process and are just so much more aware of what makes a musical bow good,” said Sky Dladla, the group’s PR and spokesperson.    

Cebo Zuma, who is the group’s dance expert, thinks that the experience provided an ideal opportunity for UCT Ibuyambo Orchestra to share its own brand of music-making and musical ideals in Mozambique. “On the second day of our arrival in Matola, the UCT Ibuyambo Orchestra attended a show in Maputo at the Centro Cultural Franco-Mozambicano, and this is where a television station producer invited us to do an interview on Televiasao de Mozambique. The interview conversations revolved around Pan Africanism in musical culture and discussions of South African sound- and dance-styles. It was an awkward but exciting feeling to talk to an audience in a foreign country about things we just take for granted, not knowing if we were making ourselves understood, and it made us realize how much we can still do to share our African arts.” The UCT group also conducted educational workshops and performed at the Raiz Traditional Festival, held at the Associacao dos Musicos Mozambicanos in Maputo, on Saturday the 25th of June. Apart from opening up a whole new world of music and dance, the nine UCT Ibuyambo Orchestra members believe that the experience has helped them to grow as performers. “We have gained so much confidence and are now more equipped to tackle the challenges of a performance career. Opportunities of this kind are really important for our development,” reflects Odwa Bongo.

The group’s trip to Mozambique has been filmed and documented. For selected clips and additional images, visit the UCT Ibuyambo Orchestra Facebook page.