It also seeks to create a more inclusive social space through music within the Stellenbosch community. This will be the fifth conversation of the series. Focusing on Mseleku is Makhathini’s way of paying homage to the late musician and a continuation on documenting his life, both through the band stand and in the academic arena. Mseleku was a talented jazz musician who left South Africa in the 1980s to relocate to London. South Africa was in political turmoil.
Mseleku died in 2008 at the age of 53. This conversation is also linked to Makhathini’s interests as a musician whose music and practice is centred on ideas of spirituality, healing, meditations as well as viewing this spirituality in jazz as part of the broader decolonial project.
“I want to argue that over and above the academic confines of citations for example, that over citing from books and histories that have a lot of western, colonizer meaning, that it is important to acknowledge the ancestry relevance [and] as a valued space of meditation.” Makhathini who graduated with his Masters degree earlier this year will explore these concepts further in his Ph.D studies, which he has already embarked on.
But back to Mseleku.
In his Master’s dissertation Makhathini focuses on the is life of Mseleku as an exiled musician. “The main thing I wanted when I was writing this research thesis was that I actually wanted Mseleku’s voice to come out” he explains, “And because not much has been written about him in the academic space. But I was also trying to relocate the sound of exile in his music, so if we knew that Mseleku was in exile does he have a way of project himself musically and what does that sound like…so those were some of the things I was interested in.”
The SAMA-award winner explains further that he was also questioning the idea of home, given that Mseleku like many other musicians such as the members of the jazz band the Brotherhood of Breath, (except for Louis Moholo who is still alive and back in SA) left South Africa during the height of apartheid and died in lands not of their births.