A one-night special in commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana is set to take place later this month.
Mbuso Khoza, award-winning artist and heritage consultant, brings the historical battle of 1879 to life through music, with his Isandlwana Lecture: The Musical, which he describes as a "means to affirm the formation of our identity; that’s the main objective. It is not to glorify the Zulu nation, because all of us fought in this country against colonialism. So if one of us wins, we all need to come together and celebrate. It is not just a single-cultured initiative.”
Khoza said that as a musician, he had observed how the triumph had been widely commemorated in KZN and that it was time that this was spread to other provinces.
“When you look at our political history in the country, all of us were affected by colonialism and later it was apartheid. So, for me, I think it will be disheartening to position such a memorable historical moment in Africa as just a Zulu thing, because we are faced with issues of tribalism.
"As a musician, let me play my part in trying to unify our people and speak about this event as South African heritage and history.”
The Battle of Isandlwana saw Zulu warriors conquer the British army 140 years ago, on January 22. This was the only time in South Africa that the British suffered a decisive defeat.
“As a heritage and music lover, I have always been fascinated by songs and activities from the past. I conducted research on Amahubo – the 17th and 18th century hymns that were sung by our people – and concluded that these were time capsules, fully encoded with vast amounts of knowledge on how leaders and their subjects responded to the advancement of colonialists, and how this has led to the kind of society we have today.”
Khoza will engage the audience with intimate details of the national psyche before, during and after this historical incident.
He uses information gathered from the lyrics and harmonies that were written and performed after the Isandlwana battle.
“What will be happening will be an interplay of the past and the present.”
Khoza will be accompanied by the The Afrikan Heritage Ensemble during the show, which will take place at The Fringe at the Joburg Theatre.
“Many artists including myself, when we travel outside Africa, are met with more appreciation. I understand why. The battle we speak of has an impact on how we look at ourselves. For example, in 1816, there was a way black people used to sing and that changed around 1879 when we had colonial influences and started to sing like English people. The songs that were sung by Zulu people back then were of Anglican origin and that is not who we are. Now, when we travel overseas and present the core of who we are, the audiences are not used to it, so they appreciate it more. It is time to do away with that, where you are seen as uncouth (in presenting who you are).”
Khoza added that the musical would be a demonstration of how "unity of purpose" achieved the almost impossible, as Africans showed preparedness to lay down their lives in defence of their land.
The Isandlwana Lecture: The Musical will take place on Friday, January 25, at The Fringe at Joburg Theatre. Tickets cost R200.
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