Mbuso Khoza: Africa Month should be about the revival of knowledge for self
Share this article:
Attending a Mbuso Khoza performance should be a bucket list item for many South Africans.
He takes you on a journey of some of our well-known traditional songs and hymns, gives them context, expands on their history and then gives them a facelift.
He takes songs you hear at weddings, funerals and traditional gatherings and arranges them in a way that you cannot help be start appreciating them again.
From our spirited conversation, it’s clear that the musician, historian and heritage enthusiast is on a quest to re-write African history and right the wrongs of our past history, through music.
This Africa Month, Khoza is set to give audiences an enchanting performance of the “Isandlwana Battle Musical Lecture”, a musical production which looks at how the mighty British army suffered humiliation at the hands of Zulu warriors just over 140 years ago.
The historical event will take place at the Soweto Theatre from Wednesday, May 26 until Sunday, May 30.
Accompanied by the Afrikan Heritage Ensemble, a 20-member a-cappella group, Khoza will again bring to life the true-life events of the Anglo-Zulu War, through narration, song and dance.
As we commemorate Africa Month, we caught up with the man who is passionate about the culture and heritage of the African people.
Being African means different things to different people, but to Khoza, it echoes principles.
“To me, being African means values. It means kindness. It means unity. It means there should be no rapists. Your child is my child.
In the olden days, we used to say, ’you should never ask an African man, how many kids does he have because the entire village is his.”
Khoza says this year’s theme of the “Isandlwana Battle Musical Lecture”, is about revaluing our culture and heritage as Africans.
“The lecture is not about who stabbed who.
“We are talking about logic here so that our kids get to know who they are.
“We need to teach our people our history as Africans instead of just singing and dancing because the danger is when we position ourselves as entertainers more than thinkers.
“We go to the stadiums, we dance and sing and then tourists come and take the photos that they’re going to sell in their countries.
“But what are we left with? Singing and dancing? So it's about time that we add more value to our heritage.
“History comes in as an intervention to record later cultures and traditions.
“So it's very important therefore that we align ourselves as Africans around the knowledge for self.
“Africa month should be about the revival of knowledge for self."
Khoza says, as Africans, we have stopped to think for ourselves, and therefore, we have lost the sense of who we are as a nation of great thinkers and inventors.
“We've been colonised a lot. Even our parents, most of them don’t know who they are. We have become a ritualistic nation, you want blessings, you have to kill a cow, you want this you have to burn impepho.
“But now, when are we going to ascribe logic in our cultures and say, to a young boy, a young girl, ‘when you are faced with difficulties in life, instead of burning impepho and killing animals, have you tried at least ten times and then realised, oh, maybe now spirituality needs to take its place?
“Every weekend, we kill animals, we have less time to think, to reason as Africans. To ask the question, 'who are we?"'
Khoza also wants to remind the African people that they have invented culture, so therefore, if it doesn’t work, they can always amend it.
“We also need to remember that culture is a man-made thing. It means, as a human, you are the designer of the environment, designer of character, of the world because in isiZulu we call it igumbi lo mhlaba.
“This means that these cultures that are dehumanising other people can be changed in the modern day."
Khoza insists that in most of our cultures, there are so many things that are wrong.
“If my culture becomes slavery to another person, there's something wrong. It means as Africans, we need to offer the new value with a new understanding of our heritage and culture."
The muso says it’s important to him that anyone who is going to attend this lecture will have a clear understanding of who they are, and ask new questions around culture, history and even religion.
“We need to go through a phase where we'll call it is a correctional history phase and say, this worked at that time because there's a lot of backwardness in history and culture.
"Culture is unquestionable. Why? If culture was created by us, so why can’t we question it. And this is the very thing that prevents us Africans from thinking."
Through the “Isandlwana Battle Musical Lecture”, Khoza honours the lives of Zulu patriots like Ntshingwayo ka Mahole and Mehlokazulu ka Sihayo. They were the men who were at the epicentre of the savage Anglo-Zulu War, which is now a famous historical event.
This performance follows various webinars held with other creative practitioners as a road to the actual presentation on the lecture with a twist.
Tickets to the “Isandlwana Battle Musical Lecture” are selling at R150. For more information visit Soweto Theatre.