isiZulu Master’s Research Analyses Storytelling Tactics Used by Legendary Musician Vusi Ximba
Master of Arts degree holder Ms Nonjabulo Ximba.

Ms Nonjabulo Ximba was ecstatic to graduate from UKZN with her Master of Arts degree which she wrote in isiZulu.

She is also the daughter of the late legendary musician, Vusi Ximba. In her dissertation, she analyses storytelling tactics used by her father in his music as a way of paying homage to him. She believes that her father is one of the arts innovators who demonstrated huge talent in music by employing a variety of techniques to present his work to the public.

‘I did this research on him simply because no thorough research has been conducted on him despite his talent and popularity. His genre and style are indigenous. He rose from playing his music in taxi ranks and on the streets of several towns and when everyone thought his story would be one of those that ends without success, he rose from the ashes and carved a name for himself, recording several hits that I have used in my research analysis,’ she said.

Her findings indicate that ‘while some listeners thought Vusi’s music is profane, musical experts have concluded that it is in fact very humorous and touches on subjects very few musicians dare to explore, including sex, prostitution, promiscuous men of the cloth, witchcraft, lies and dishonesty.’ The findings also show that while Vusi and his music did not receive the same acclaim as other artists, there is something to be learned from his body of work and notable talent.

Speaking about her support system, Ximba said, ‘My mother Thembisile Nhlangulela took care of all the home chores and kids without complaining (while I was busy with my dissertation). At times when I could not get access to certain songs, she would go around and ask neighbours for songs on my behalf. Most of my dad’s songs are no longer available at music stores. Her excitement about the study made me realise that I need to keep on pushing no matter the challenges.’

Ximba advised other researchers ‘to build a support system and also make use of them. There is a high level of independent research that one has to undertake just in order to grasp the concepts being taught. Planning is the key.’

Ximba plans to pursue her PhD in the future and to publish her research.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan