National Arts Festival to honour Xhosa musician Madosini Mpahleni

Xhosa indigenous musician Madosini Mpahleni.
Xhosa indigenous musician Madosini Mpahleni.
Image: Supplied

Legendary Xhosa indigenous musician Madosini Mpahleni will this year be honoured by the National Arts Festival in Makanda for her significant mark she made in the country’s arts and musical landscape.

The musician, who is known for playing her indigenous instruments uhadi (music bow) and umrhumbe (mouth bow), is well a known composer and story teller of note. As the festival’s featured artist, Mpahleni will perform in two collaborative performances at the National Arts Festival that runs from June 25 to July 5 in the Eastern Cape.

Her first performance will feature members of her traditional ensemble that comes from Libode. The second performance will be presented as a “kind of thanks giving” to her supporters and it will feature  her friend Pedro who plays a traditional instrument called ixilongo. The performance will also feature other guests artists. 

The 77-year-old musician  will also present a musical storytelling performance for children and several bow playing workshops to arts educators and musicians.

As a musician, she has performed and collaborated with renowned artists like Ringo Madlingozi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Derek Grepper, Hilton Schilder, Gilberto Gil and many more.

National Arts Festival artistic director Rucera Seethal defined Mpahleni as a national treasure.

“She has kept alive the tradition of Xhosa music rooted in oral tradition.  We are proud to feature her sonic and cultural legacy at this year’s National Arts Festival.”

Mpahleni, who was born in  the Eastern Cape, has promoted and taken the isiXhosa to international stages. She said about the honour: “Ukuva kwam ngokuza kwi Festival, kundenze ndavuya kakhulu okwe thole lincanca kunina. Ukuba bendinendlela ngendivuka ngomso ndiye eRhini. Ndingxamele ukunifundisa lomrhube nendlela esasiphila ngayo thina endingayivanga ngamntu, ephilwe ndim lo. Ngoku sasibancinci thina sasingavubisi umphokoqo ngamasi, sasivubisa ngamavilo,kodwa nina aniwazi amavilo. Ndakunibalisela ukunibona kwam eRhini."

(“Being told that I'm coming to the Festival has made me happy, like a calf feeding from its mother. If I had my way, I would wake up tomorrow and go to eRhini (Makhanda). I can't wait to teach you umrhube and about lived experiences of our cultural practices that you don't practise anymore.”)

Executive producer of National Arts Festival Nobesuthu Rayi said: “We are extremely grateful that we will be given the opportunity to honour Mama Madosini on her own soil and we feel sure that the people of the Eastern Cape and South Africa will join us in celebrating this extraordinary woman.”

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