Legend Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya take to stage for Thabo Mbeki Library

The AI &TM Benefit Concert is taking place on November 27 and November 29

The AI &TM Benefit Concert is taking place on November 27 and November 29

Published Nov 19, 2019


Globally revered musician Abdullah Ibrahim and septet Ekaya will embark on a two-city benefit concert for the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library.

The shows take place at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg on November 27 and Life Church Sea Point in Cape Town on November 29.

They will be a confluence of Africa’s greatest minds and struggle icons.

“For us, the contribution of the arts was very important. It was not prescribed by anybody. There was no political party saying you must compose a song,” commented former president Thabo Mbeki.

“It was just the artists being themselves and a very strong sense of identity came from that.”

Mbeki said he was not surprised when Ibrahim said he would support the library through the concerts. TMPL has been conceived as an African centre of excellence in learning, research and discourse for the transformation of Africa.

“The benefit concerts are also being supported by MNS Attorneys - one of South Africa’s leading black-owned law firms.

“Our commitment to black excellence and independence is reflected in the aims of the library and also in Ibrahim’s exceptional career,” said Mncedisi Ndlovu, chairperson and co-founder of MNS Attorneys.

“We are thrilled to be able to help support these benefit concerts.”

Stemming from a partnership between (Unisa) and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, the library is a repository of the documents, papers and artefacts of the former president.

The TMPL aims to become a living library, one which focuses not only on Mbeki’s life and times, but also on the larger context of a rapidly changing continent.

“As part of this, the library will also contain the papers of many African leaders which would normally be held at different repositories.

Abdullah Ebrahim

The opportunity to see Ibrahim with Ekaya at this two-city benefit concert is unmissable for South African music aficionados, especially in a year in which Ibrahim has released a new album with the band, his first in four years.

Titled The Balance and released in late June, the album was recorded over the course of a day at RAK Studios in November in London last year.

Featuring a number of full band arrangements, The Balance also includes several improvised piano pieces and is released by analogue specialists Gearbox Records.

Encompassing township jazz, highlife and plentiful modern jazz styles, the instrumentation is broad and includes harmonica, cello, and piccolo.

“With Ekaya, I am blessed in that I have all these textural opportunities,” Ibrahim said of the record.

“We push ourselves out of our comfort zones so that we can present to the listener our striving for excellence. So that we can engage with our listeners without any barriers of our ego.

“It’s not jazz. For us, it’s a process of transcending barriers. Technically, it’s skilled, but there’s simplicity in the complexity. It’s a natural rhythm of the universe.

“We’ve been looking at recording for some time. But we were looking for the correct vehicle. Someone who understands what we’re doing.”

Ibrahim was recently received into the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters fellowship, the highest honour the US bestows on jazz musicians.

Tickets to the concert for the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library are available on Webtickets.

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