FOLLOWING in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers are Young Mambazo, descendents of the acclaimed Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who will make their major debut when The African Passion premieres in a few weeks.
Babuyile Shabalala told Tonight how he and Siphamandla Shabalala (Sibongiseni Shabalala’s son) and Jabulani Mthembu (Russel Mthembu’s grandson) formed Young Mambazo.
“Jabu and I would always go to Ladysmith Black Mambazo rehearsals and one day my grandfather (Joseph Shabalala) came to me and said it was good that I was coming to rehearsals, but that I should also get my brothers and sisters to come,” he said.
“At the time we were doing hip hop, but I approached my brothers and sisters and Jabu and Siphamandla responded. That was in 2009.
“Our first performance was in 2010 when we did some recording with Ladysmith Black Mambazo for the album Songs from a Zulu Farm. Our very first performance was at my grandfather’s church in Clermont, The Church of God and Africa, over Easter in 2010.
“So, in a way, the group will be celebrating its third anniversary in a major way when we perform for The African Passion.”
But Young Mambazo will bring their own flair. “We decided to do isicathamiya with a blend of other contemporary genres. I’m very hip hop, Jabu is very gospel, Siphamandla is the soul element. Young people our age don’t really get isicathamiya. There is a big difference between the generations and even their interpretation of music… In terms of The African Passion, gospel and opera is what we’ll be bringing to stage,” said Shabalala.
“My grandfather is very excited about our involvement in the production as Young Mambazo. Tradition is very important to him.
“I remember he said: ‘Tradition is like a tree whose branches stretch wide and high towards the heavens. It’s my wish to plant seeds deep within the soil so the strong winds of change don’t make it fall. The deeper the roots, the stronger the tree’. This inspired me to be the seed our grandfather planted,” he said.