Tribute to the ancestors of resistance

Jazz inspired poetry evening on the cards at Wits University Music Hall. | Supplied

Jazz inspired poetry evening on the cards at Wits University Music Hall. | Supplied

Published Aug 29, 2023


Johannesburg - South Africa's leading poets, Sabelo Soko, Makhafula Vilakazi, and Kgafela oa Magogodi, will lead a jazz-inspired poetry event titled Tribute to the Ancestors of Resistance: uNxele noMaqoma, at Wits University's Chris Seabrook Music Hall stage on September 8.

The Africanist jazz band, iPhupho L’ka Biko, will take music lovers on a sonic and spoken word tribute to the ancestors of resistance: “Ukubuya kukaNxele noMaqoma”.

The show features poets, scholars, and singers who will bring to life the stories and struggles of uNxele and Maqoma, two of the earliest and greatest heroes of African resistance against colonialism.

According to bassist and the founder of iPhupho L’ka Biko, Nhlanhla Ngqanqu uNxele, also known as Makhanda-the-itola, was one of the original inmates on Robben Island who led the "Battle of Grahamstown" and inspired his people to resist colonialism and fight for their freedom.

Maqoma was the greatest general in the 19th-century War of Resistance (the 9 “Frontier Wars”) and defended African land, autonomy, and independence for decades against colonial advances.

Ngqanqu said the show sought to highlight the role played by Nxele and Maqoma in resisting colonialism.

“The show aims to challenge and reframe the perception of uNxele, Maqoma, and others like them, who have often been discounted or misrepresented by colonial documents,” Ngqaqu said.

“The show also seeks to remind us of our origins and ensure we never return to that dark period. It seeks to reawaken the spirit of resistance that should guide our hearts and thoughts during challenging times. It nourishes us with the fruits of our hard-fought democracy while also celebrating black pride and preserving our precious heritage in a sacred manner.”

Ngqanqu said the show will see some of the country’s leading wordsmiths use the power of spoken word poets and metaphors, to convey the emotions and struggles of uNxele and Maqoma.

He said another element at the centre of the performance is the inclusion of scholar Mazibuko Jara, who will provide audiences with a historical account of uNxele and Maqoma as part of recollecting an oft-discounted part of African history.

“He will also give umrabulo concerning these two important ancestors. On Igwijo, alongside Koketso Poho, will be a daughter of the soil and liberation song rouser, Azania Tyahli.

“Through this sonic exploration, iPhupho L’ka Biko aims to create a powerful and evocative experience that resonates with audiences, reminding us of our shared history and the resilience required to forge a better future,” Ngqanqu added.

He said iPhupho L’ka Biko was founded in 2015 in the corridors of Wits University by an alumnus, to “conscientiously and spiritually awaken the human race globally” through music.

The band fuses jazz with indigenous African music (imvumane and igwijo) and elements of religious music.

“For those who have been to a live iPhupho show, it is a coming together in healing, love, prayer, unity, history, and revolution. In this installment of one of its idiosyncratic offerings, iPhupho invites aBahlali to journey through moments in history that are fundamental to where we find ourselves. It is also a symbolic moment for the band, as they return ‘home’ to Wits having recently released their debut EP titled Azania,” Ngqanqu said.

The Star

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