Madosini shares her love for traditional music

Madosini plays uhadi. The instrument is made up of a calabash, which must be pressed to the flesh to produce the sound.

The black people’s culture and heritage will soon be a thing of the past if nothing is done to preserve it.

In fact some important cultural traditions have already lost their true meaning, that is according to renowned traditional musician Latozi Manqineni, better known as Madosini.

Madosini, who has made a name for herself locally and internationally through her art of playing traditional music instruments uhadi and umrubhe, said this type of music could disappear if nothing was done.

While the two instruments have a deep-rooted history in Xhosa traditions, Madosini is arguably the only remaining master of playing them.

Growing up in the rural areas of the former Transkei with absolutely no educational background, from the age of 12 Madosini has ensured that the instruments remain relevant in today’s society.

With the assistance of another traditional musician, Dizu Plaatjies, Madosini moved to Cape Town to spread the word. Since then, she has made a name for herself.

She said her greatest desire was to see the instruments being played when she can no longer play them.

Last year saw the realisation of her dream, when the Madosini Indigenous Instruments Legacy Project teamed up with Calabash Storytellers to educate young people about the instruments.

While she believes that it was a good start by well-known actor Andrea Dondolo, she said more was needed.

In an interview with Vukani as we celebrate Heritage Month, the multi-award winner was at pains as she narrated her concerns regarding black traditions and cultural practises.

“How is this (interview) going to help?” she asked. “It is not going to change my life because there is no interest in this kind of music in our country. Overseas people are more interested in it. White people like this music a lot. Some travelled from as far as Swirtzeland to learn about it.”

Madosini said the worst thing would be for the music to be completely wiped from South African borders and later return as something South Africans have to pay for. While she supports the need for people to be educated, she cautioned against extinction of black people’s culture. “The people who write down everything is the white people,” she said. “We had our way of doing things and survived. But all that is now going away. We are giving it away and the white people are taking it.”

While she was initially against relocating to Cape Town because of “thugs in urban areas”, she said the move was a blessing in disguise.

“It was not a mistake when God brought me here at an old age, he wanted other people to benefit,” she said. “Through me He brought bread to other people as well. The sad thing is when people eat that bread and not share with me. I don’t mind even if you get a loaf and give me a slice or you cook your meat and give me the gravy and tell me that the meat burnt up. I will eat.”

She said while she continued to rake in awards, very little went into her bank account. However, she was full of praises for Ms Dondolo.

“She has been so wonderful to me,” she said. “When I reached out to her, she listened and assisted me. Today we have children who have learnt this.”

Commenting on her relationship with Madosini, Ms Dondolo said she always appreciated her music. Despite all the challenges Madosini encountered in the industry, Ms Dondolo hailed her as the epitome of hope for many in the music industry. “She has gone through a rough patch in the music industry, but she has a very good heart, and she loves her music. Very few people value and love the industry the way she does. She is a gem. Even though we have children who have learnt her music, there is only one Madosini.”

Ms Dondolo said she would love to see more kids trained to play the music, but funding remains a challenge.