Legendary traditional musician Madosini has opened her warm heart to young people of Khayelitsha and the surrounding areas to teach them the rare skills of playing traditional instruments and how to make them.
Under the banner of the Madosini Indigenous Music Legacy project, in partnership with the Calabash story-telling organisation, Latozi “Madosini” Mpahleni conducts three-hour musical workshops every Saturday at the Look Out Hill, in Khayelitsha.
In an interview with Vukani, the 74-year-old Langa-based artist, who was born in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, said she felt the need to pass on her extensive knowledge about the traditional instruments, which are quite hard to find, to the young ones before she died.
The award-winning artist teaches the youth how to play instruments such as Uhadi, Umrhube and Isitolotolo.
The initiative is funded by the Department of Arts and Culture. The music she produces from these instruments is unique in its variety and in the range of feelings it evokes.
She said she taught herself to master playing these instrument through continuous practice from an early age.
“I only know three people who still play these instruments but they are not well-known people. It is absolutely important for me to share the wisdom and the knowledge I have gained through out the years with the young ones because they are the future generation.
“I would be ecstatic if one of these children can take this knowledge and share it with other children and spread it. They don’t have to be artists but they need their cultural musical instruments,” she said.
Madosini explains it is essential that the children are taught, from an early age, to embrace their culture and cultural instruments. A part of the workshop, Madosini said, she will also incorporate life skills and teach them the historical backgrounds of these instruments, adding that music has always been an integral part of Xhosa people.
“We would play these instruments when we had traditional ceremonies and sometimes when girls were going to a battle field to fight with other girls from other villages. I’m pleased that I have secured a funding to run this initiative and I will run this programme until next year,” she said.
Chris Hani High School pupil Zinceba Qaba, 16, who attends the music workshops, said she opted to attend the workshop because she wanted to learn more about traditional Xhosa musical instruments. She said she learnt about Madosini when they were given an assignment to research her and since then she was keen to learn more about the instruments she was playing.
She described Madosini as a great musician, composer, poet, singer, story-teller, teacher and a South African cultural treasure.
“It is important for us as young people to learn about customs and culture because we need to know where we come from in order to know where we are going as the nation.
“We as Xhosa people, in particular, need to take pride in our culture. I would urge other young people to join the workshop to learn more about our indigenous instruments and there is no age restriction,” she said.