As she paid tribute to “her special grandmother”, Calabash Storytellers founder Andrea Dondolo said she has been constantly questioned about her relationship with legendary Xhosa musician Dr Latozi “Madosini” Mpahleni who died at the age of 78, in Mthatha, on Friday December 23 after a lengthy illness.
Ms Dondolo said she saw Madosini, as she was fondly known, as a professional artist, good and loving mother, a disciplinarian and great friend who would even call her out when she had done wrong.
Now after her death, Ms Dondolo believes that a long held dream from her side to honour Madosini had been fulfilled. The duo enjoyed many good years together.
Speaking to Vukani from her Eastern Cape home with her booming voice, the actress, storyteller and sangoma shared and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to work with such a musical icon.
“I will miss her so much. I could not believe the news of her passing although I knew she struggled health wise. But she was a fighter. I enjoyed working with her. An amazing storyteller who used her ability to keep me awake on our long drives, from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town,” she said.
One of their favourite past times was spending time on the roads on different projects.
The duo started working together back in 2006 when they toured the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, exposing the younger generation to Madosini’s work as she featured on the show Back To My Roots Schools Tour.
Over the years some memorable collaborations materialised such as the Madosini Living Legacy Project whose sole purpose was to better her living conditions and that successfully happened when the then Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela was presented with the case and Madosini was awarded a three-bedroom house in Delft.
The relationship grew to other projects such as the Living Legends Legacy Project with the national Department of Arts. Then there were master classes and Rise Identity Projects.
“We are eternally grateful for that milestone. All we can do now is relive moments and treasure memories. It was an honour to experience the greatness that is Madosini. She once asked me, ”Andireya, uzihluphelani ngam (why do you bother so much about me)? I told her that my grandmother is late and she left while I was young. If I can honour her through other elders, especially her (Madosini) let me do it,” she said.
Ms Dondolo also recalled her charitable side, which included helping up her fans in need and teaching her uhadi musical bow freely.
“She was a loving and dedicated artist, a confidante, friend and great companion, a committed and honest professional. Madosini had a big personality and a beautiful smile. I had a knack of just showing up at her home and she was like a small child when it came to getting surprises. She had a sweet tooth and loved meat. Oh she was a lady when it came to her appearance for performances, she’d ask, ‘Andireya, ingaba ndikhangeleka kakuhle andifuni ukuhlaza, umlomo wona andinavumba kaloku sinamazinyo,” she said laughing.
She said music was in Madonsini’s DNA and she was a good friend and mentor and encouraged others, young and old, in their musical gifts. She generously shared her talents with others.
However, Ms Dondolo said their relationship was not always smooth sailing. There were ups and downs along the way.
“I pestered so many governments on her behalf. That wasn’t going well with many of those who were using her and gave her peanuts in the music industry. But at times dealing with her felt like handling broken glasses and you’d sustain some cuts too, that part broke my heart about her, being through a lot made her have trust issues at times. After all, she was human. She had moments of anxiety and I’d spot those when she tighten her lips and start licking them and her eyes would light up and dart around, then she’d start doing something with her hands and rub her thighs, so I’d know. I am an empath. I pick on energies quickly,” said Ms Dondolo.
Unfortunately, Ms Dondolo could not attend all her send-offs due to her traditional healer duties and protocols.
But she felt great to have made it her mission to help.
She is grateful that their partnership succeeded and Madosini got well-deserved recognition from the national Department of Arts and Culture.
“Noxa uwile umthi omkhulu , amantshontsho asele nomlumiso (She might have gone, but her legacy lives on). Wavalwa umkhusane. Lala ngoxolo Madonsini.”