Legendary musician shares her knowledge with local youth

Worried Marble Mbenyama pleads with anyone who might know her daughter's whereabouts to assist them in finding her.

Legendary traditional musician Lantozi “Madosini” Mpahleni shared her wisdom and experience with aspiring musicians at Homba Primary School, in Khayelitsha, on Saturday February 3.

Children had the rare opportunity to learn from the renowned traditional instrument player.

The Langa-based musician has made a name for herself by playing indigenous instruments such as Isitolotolo, Uhadi and Umrhube.

On Saturday she visited the school to present a six-hour Master Class Session workshop. The workshop was part of the Department of Arts and Culture’s countrywide Living Legend Legacy programme aimed at getting legends in various art forms to engage with the youth and share their skills, experience and knowledge.

The workshop was conducted in partnership with Calabash Storytellers.

Among others, the workshop was attended by legendary photographer George Hallet, poet James Matthews, and writers Dr Sindiwe Magona and Ronnie Govender who visited various schools in Khayelitsha to share their expertise.

Madosini told the audience about the history of the instruments and how they are made.

She started playing the instruments at the age of 14 and said she never thought she would get the opportunity to travel the world.

Although she never set foot in school, she encouraged the young people to stay in school. She urged them to not forget their roots.

Madosini is believed to be the only person with knowledge of playing the indigenous instruments and her motivation is to share and pass the knowledge to other people.

She said she had been longing to teach young people how to play the instruments. She said the instruments were part of the Xhosa tradition and should always be protected and preserved. She believes that young people need to be taught the importance of embracing their own cultural instruments to ensure that they do not fade away.

“I want to continue playing these instruments. I will teach you all the skills that I know because it is important that the next generation know these instruments. We should embrace our cultural instruments and be proud about them. Culture defines us and makes us who we are. Without culture we are nothing,” she said.

Founder and director of Calabash storytellers, Andrea Dondolo, said the workshop was a pilot project intended to give the living legends a platform and an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills.

Ms Dondolo said they wanted young people to be given an opportunity to learn from the legends who have travelled the world.

She said the idea was to invest in the future of black children. “It warms my heart to see the youth zealous about this programme. It is up to us to shape the future of these young people. There are many young people who are gifted but have no mentoring and platform to showcase their God-given talent. I appeal to schools to be receptive of such programmes and partake,” she said.

Sithembiso Ntombela, from the department, said the Living Legend Legacy programme was launched three years ago to ensure that living legends are recognised for their role in the development of art.

He said the legends wanted to be recognised through giving back to the community and sharing their wealth of knowledge. He said the legends wanted to resuscitate the various art forms that face demise.

Mr Ntombela said they wanted young people to interact with these legends with the hope that this would give them a major boost in their careers. “The legends carry so much wisdom and history. They are rivers of knowledge, “ he said.