20 years, still strong

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Sowetan Nation Building is 20 years old.

The ubuntu-based, public and corporate partnerships concept, philosophy and work was pioneered by Aggrey Klaaste and Sam Mabe.

Though they were helped and even challenged to refine the nation-building campaign, Sowetan's late editor-in-chief Klaaste and senior assistant editor Mabe were the voices and faces of what is today the newspaper's almost peerless corporate social investment and responsibility vehicle.

Two decades later, the initiative continues to set Sowetan apart from other publications in the media world.

To celebrate the milestone of having endured for two decades, the Transnet Foundation, SABC and Sowetan Massed Choir Festival will be bigger, bolder and brighter. Taking place in Johannesburg in September, the festival commemorates the visionary spirit of Klaaste, Mabe and all the individuals, groups, institutions and organisations who have partnered Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

Tasked with the responsibility of hosting a memorable extravaganza are festival leaders Ludumo Magangane, Mokale Koapeng, Thabiso Mosabala, Thusizwe Nkabinde and Danny Pooe, who have taken over from the veteran founding gurus Richard Cock and Mzilikazi Khumalo.

The festival is a major attraction of national heritage month.

It has served as a launching pad and appropriate exhibition platform for soloists, choirs and orchestral musicians and music composers, arrangers and conductors.

Through the festival we have honoured notable composers such as Enoch Sontonga, who wrote Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika , Theriso Tsambo, one of the few black female choral music composers, all-rounder Jabulani Mazibuko of the Soweto Teachers' Choir and the recognised and acknowledged rising talent of Prince Lengoasa, better known as a jazz musician.

We have also hosted guest choirs from neighbouring countries and abroad and have showcased the talents of guest acts such as Ringo Madlingozi, Tsepo "Village Pope" Tshola, "Tuks Senganga" Kepadisa, Jabu Hlongwane, Jabu Khanyile, Zwai and Loyiso Bala and Vicky Sampson.

When this project was launched, with all the others in the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation's youth and community development portfolio, South Africa was socially, politically, culturally and economically divided.

The festival now celebrates the semblance of sanity that has resulted in the country's fledgling democracy.