Thandeka Mfinyongo's moving tribute to music pioneer Dr Madosini Mpahleni

Thandeka Mfinyongo and Dr Madosini Mpahleni. Picture: Instagram

Thandeka Mfinyongo and Dr Madosini Mpahleni. Picture: Instagram

Published Jan 1, 2023


Tributes continue to pour on for the matriarch of indigenous music and traditional instruments, Dr “Madosini” Latozi Mpahleni.

The South African cultural legend passed away on Friday, December 23, at St Mary’s Hospital in Mthatha after “a relatively long illness”.

“Having survived a heart attack whilst she was on a tour in France in 2019, as well as two Covid-19 attacks, her health status could not be back to its normalcy, and as a result from time to time she was admitted to hospital.

“Her last admission was at St Mary’s Hospital on the 3rd December, 2022 where she subsequently succumbed at 16.15 on the 23rd December, 2022,” read the family statement.

In a chat with IOL Entertainment, Cape Town-born musician Thandeka Mfinyongo said sharing the stage with Madosini in what was her last performance would remain the greatest honour and privilege of her musical journey.

“That concert was one of the best and most rewarding experiences. Mado was the easiest person to work with and she never complained at all,” recalled Mfinyongo.

“She loved and respected her craft and was ever so humble. A hilarious human being and rehearsals were filled with laughter. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such a legend,” added the star.

A legend in the making, Mfinyongo directed “Ingoduko,” a musical concert aimed at shining a spotlight on indigenous Xhosa instruments, the “uhadi” and “umrhubhe”.

The concert took place at the Artscape in September.

Elaborating on the collaboration with Madonsini, Mfinyongo said: “I have been touring with this concept since I returned from doing my masters in London last year. Ingoduko is a homecoming, an appreciation of African music by Africans, where it began, and a nostalgia of home encapsulated in song.

“It is a musical performance celebrating our culture and giving a voice to the Xhosa indigenous instruments uhadi (gourd bow) and umrhubhe (mouth bow).

“I felt that it was essential to include Madosini as the living archive that she is in this production. She embodies this concept, and I wanted people to experience this intergenerational performance on stage and have the feel of both worlds.”

Mfinyongo said meeting Madosini over five years ago had been a dream come true.

“I met Madosini in 2017 while I was a student at UCT. I had longed to meet her as her name kept coming up while we were being taught about uhadi and umrhubhe.

“In 2018, I had the opportunity to share a stage with her in a concept called ‘At The Feet’, pioneered by Msaki, myself and Nomtha.”

Mfinyongo added that over the years, she and Madosini had created many memories that she would forever cherish.

“One of the best (memories) would be my first visit to her home. She played uhadi and umrhubhe, and I cried. She was so loving and funny … there was never a dull moment, even when she wasn’t feeling well.

“She loved teasing me about my green hair and chunky boots. ‘Lo mntana oko ndamazi oko wayenwele eziluhlaza. Yhe wethu, azikusinid ezi zihlangu?’ she would say, and we would laugh.

“And then she said: ‘Loo nto ke ziyakufanela, omnye umntu ngekhe zimfanele.’ And would go on and on…

“I am so grateful that I did Ingoduko with Madosini; that will forever be embedded in my heart. Enkosi Madosini, Lala ngoxolo Thole lomthwakazi, Qengeba, ugqatso lwakho ulufezile. Ndiyohlala ndikuthanda.”

Dr “Madosini” Latozi Mpahleni. Picture: Supplied

In her illustrious career spanning decades, Madosini collaborated with British rock singer Patrick Duff and, in 2003, they performed a number of successful concerts together around the world.

She also worked with South African musicians Thandiswa Mazwai, Ringo, Derek Gripper and Gilberto Gil, the famous Brazilian musician.

Her latest collaboration with musicians Hilton Schilder, Jonny Blundell, Lulu Plaatjies and Pedro Espi-Sanchis resulted in the recording of an African/jazz fusion CD under the name of AmaThongo and various concerts around Africa.

Family spokesperson Phumza Mphahleni confirmed that a public memorial service will be held in Langa township on Wednesday, January 4, and the funeral service is set to take place on Saturday, January 7, at Mkankato, in Libode, Eastern Cape.