Discipline of Music

UKZN African Music and Dance Graduates at ETHNO Zimbabwe


Three UKZN Bachelor of Arts (Music) graduates had the opportunity to participate in an international music experience called ETHNO which took place in Zimbabwe in September 2023.

ETHNO is a programme for folk, world and traditional music founded in 1990 and present today in over 40 countries. It is aimed at young musicians up to the age of 30 with a mission to revive and keep alive global cultural heritage amongst youth. It encourages a peer-to-peer learning approach where young people teach each other music from their countries and cultures through a series of international music camps and workshops, partnerships with schools, conservatories and other youth groups.

The graduates from UKZN were Ms Zama Mlambo, Mr Mzwandile Msibi and Mr Sizwe Xulu who were selected from several entrants to represent South Africa and our rich indigenous music scene.

Mlambo graduated in 2021 and plays the Umqangala, a mouth bow, an indigenous instrument from the family of Uhadi and uMakhweyana. Although only playing the instrument for two years, she was captured by the technique and sound from the very beginning. She is passionate about preserving the tradition of this music and instrument for the next generation.

Mlambo stated, ‘The ETHNO experience was above and beyond what I expected. The workshops were packed with diverse music and participants from around the world connected through songs of love, victory, friendship and pain. ETHNO also catered for all our needs with amazing hospitality. My highlight was our last ceremony where we held the ETHNO stone and each person reflected on their experience’.

Msibi was introduced to the uMakhweyana in his undergraduate year by African Music and Dance legend, Bro Clement Sthole in 2019. Echoing Mlambo’s sentiments, Msibi found the experience phenomenal and informative and hopes to attend different ETHNOs around the globe.

Msibi also shared that he hopes ETHNO South Africa will be launched soon. ‘The ETHNO platform provides a gateway to musicians dreams and allows you to meet different people around the globe.
Networking is very important if you want to succeed as a musician and ETHNO provides this for young musicians.’

Xulu completed his degree in 2021 and is a guitarist who has been playing for eight years. ‘I grew up listening to indigenous music and play indigenous instruments such as uMakhweyana, Zulu drums, etc. Being part of ETHNO Zimbabwe was a great experience and I learned a lot especially the importance of building relationships with people from other cultures with the purpose of producing great music.’

Mlambo, Msibi and Xulu share a common dream to pursue their music careers but most important to all of them is to transfer their musical knowledge to the next generation and teach young individuals’ indigenous music and instruments.

They also shared their appreciation and thanks to both Dr Patricia Opondo, the UKZN African Music and Dance (AMD) Programme, and Ms Tash Lange, Project Co-Ordinator for Music Crossroads International, who assisted them with the application process.

‘It’s such an honour for ETHNO to have approached the UKZN AMD Programme to nominate students to apply for this youth collaboration that brought together young performers from Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa,’ said Opondo.

The opportunity for UKZN AMD alumni to present and share indigenous instruments, songs and dances, and represent South Africa is a considerable achievement. Opondo also stated that ‘the opportunity to share and create from what they learned and mastered during the time they were students in the UKZN AMD programme will encourage present and future students to continue to perform and transmit this cultural heritage with pride, and indeed an affirmation that majoring in African Music and Dance and mastering the various indigenous instruments that we teach in the programme opens the doors to global opportunities.’

‘Zama, Sizwe and Mzwandile were a credit to both UKZN Music and South Africa. They are incredibly talented individuals who brought a unique passion and fire into the workshop space. They shone on stage. They made a good impression on all partners and I was proud to be part of their team,’ said Lange

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