Guitars strummed and drums rolled as some of the country’s Maskandi music heavyweights, including budding artists and storytellers belted out their best on Saturday November 19, when Calabash storytellers organisation, in partnership with various other organisations, held the Words on Wings Maskandi and Storytelling Festival.
An enthusiastic crowd comprising young and old clapped, danced and sang as storytellers and musicians dazzled them with their performances.
More than 200 people gathered at Lookout Hill in Litha Park, Khayelitsha, to attend the event, the line-up of which included the likes of Ntombi Ethongo all the way from Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape and who has travelled the world, Buselaphi who has 22 awards under her belt, Amawele KaMamtshawe and the multi-award winning Madosini.
The event was aimed at promoting the importance of storytelling and preserving cultural folklore and traditional music. The organisation strives to provide a platform for budding story tellers and dance groups to hone their skills. Calabash Storytelling aims to urge young people and residents to embrace their cultural customs.
Andrea Dondolo, managing director of the organisation, said it was critical that they reminded people about the importance of storytelling and what role it played in educating the youth.
She explained that storytelling was one of the tools used by parents and grandparents to deliver lessons about discipline and respect to their children.
Ms Dondolo said it now seems that people have forgotten the value and importance of storytelling.
However, she has vowed to pull all the stops to preserve this cultural practice.
She emphasised that there are many talented and gifted storytellers who are keen to showcase their talent but are ignored and are not given the right platforms to exhibit their stories.
She said among the organisation’s goals was to empower the storytellers with information about how they can make a living and prevent being exploited or taken for granted.
She highlighted that she was also perturbed by the negative perceptions that Maskandi music was for people who are uneducated.
Ms Dondolo said the fundamental mission of the event was to promote the spirit of social cohesion and create employment opportunities for the artist.
“This is the first event and we are hoping to make it an annual event. We had children who performed here and the aim of this is to encourage the young ones to be proud of their cultural backgrounds and embrace their culture. I’m impressed by the attendance and the numbers have surpassed my expectations. Funding remains a main concerns and we are appealing to local business to extend a helping hand,” she said.
Assistant director of the Department of Arts and Culture, Vusi Ngobeni, said such events played a crucial role in educating the youth and it also played a significant role in preserving cultural norms and practices.
He said he hoped they would fund the event for the next three years so that it could be self-sustainable. “Looking at the number of people who attended the event it shows that people need such events. We are impressed with the event and we hope the youth can learn something from this,” he said.
Maskandi artist Ntombi Ethongo, who has just finished a three-year music course at the University of Cape Town, said it was important to host such events because they urged people to respect and practise their customs and embrace them.
He added that he was proof that Maskandi musicians were also educated people. And he has urged the youth to study before they can pursue music as a career.