Members of IKUSASA LETHU at Luthuli Museum,
hosting a concert and workshop for disadvantaged
high school pupils.

IKUSASA LETHU, a professional ensemble comprising African Music and Dance (AMD) students headed by the ensemble’s Director Dr Patricia Opondo of the Music Discipline at UKZN, recently hosted a concert and workshop at the Luthuli Museum in Groutville as part of a project externally funded by the Norwegian government.

The 30-minute concert followed by a 30-minute workshop catered for high school pupils from various rural communities in the area in an effort to preserve indigenous music/instruments through live performances. 

About 300 learners attended with audience members including teachers and visitors to the museum. The youngsters were given the opportunity to handle the indigenous instruments including the Zulu umakhweyana gourd bow and the timbila xylophones from Mozambique. 

IKUSASA LETHU member Ms Thembeka Sangweni said, ‘The performance at Groutville was amazing. I never thought high school learners would enjoy African Music so much. They were surprised we could perform music from other parts of Africa as they thought African Music was just Maskandi.’

Opondo said it had been a great opportunity for her final year students as they would soon join the teaching profession and work with young people at schools.

‘IKUSASA LETHU members interacted extremely well with the learners inducting many to their first live encounter with indigenous instruments. We hope that some of the gifted learners will consider studying African Music and Dance at UKZN.’

Director of the Luthuli Museum, Mr Brian Xaba, described the performance and workshop as exceptional and educational. ‘The learners were fascinated by the instruments and were eager to learn how they worked. IKUSASA LETHU are a talented professional group and we are grateful that they came on-board for this project and we hope to work with them in the future.’

Also speaking about the show, Student Manager for IKUSASA LETHU, Ms Nozuko Nguqu, said: ‘Our main focus was to play the instruments to promote live music. On instruments included the timbila (a xylophone from Mozambique); mbira (Nyunganyunga from Zimbabwe), stringed bow (uMakhweyana from KZN), and different kinds of African drums.

‘Overall, it was a great experience. We managed to sell tickets for our upcoming Annual African Calabash based on our performances and that gives us an idea that indigenous music performance is quite appealing to many.’

The Annual African Cultural Calabash takes place on 18 October at 7pm at the Howard College Theatre. Ticket prices are R60 for non-students and R35 for students.

*To buy tickets to the Calabash or donate towards the show, telephone Ms Thuli Zama on 031 260-3385 or email Zamat1@ukzn.ac.za. For further information contact: opondop@ukzn.ac.za.