Amampondo get recognition award

2017-11-23 06:01
Amampondo founding members Simphiwe Mathole, Mzwandile Qotoyi and Zandisile Blacks Mbizela with their BVSM Award.  PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

Amampondo founding members Simphiwe Mathole, Mzwandile Qotoyi and Zandisile Blacks Mbizela with their BVSM Award. PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

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Aampondo are largely forgotten these days, but in their heyday, it is worth remembering that they had toured the world and recorded about 10 albums.

On Friday last week, the group received recognition after being awarded the Backing Vocalist and Session Musicians Awards at a ceremony held at the Soweto Theatre.

Amampondo is a group of marimba banging percussionists who entertained the world and South Africa in days gone by.

They were awarded the best percussionists between 1990 and 1995 rekindling memories of the time when these drummers where globetrotters.

Amampondo was founded in 1978 by Mzwandile Qotoyi, Simphiwe Mathole, Mandla Lande and Zandisile ‘Blacks’ Mbizela, with the late Victor Ntoni having been instrumental.

Qotoyi said: “I used got to the Langa Catholic Church and I was part of the band. When I was there, I saw that they were using the marimba, so one time I asked the conductor if the band members can remain after rehearsals.

We started a band and we started jamming and performing but one day we damaged the church equipment. The church sanctioned us and we had to buy our own equipment,” he said.

He said that they started busking and were able to buy their own equipment until the early 80s when they started performing in clubs.

“The turning point of the band was when we left for Jo’burg in the mid 80s, where we amazed crowds at the Market Theatre. They had never seen a marimba band perform live. They loved it so much they wanted us to stay another week,” said Qotoyi.

Opportunities started opening up and in 1988 they went on to perform in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival.

“There, everyone loved us so much that our agent organised a world tour and we performed in countries such as Sweden, England, Holland, Germany, China, Australia and Italy.

This was also followed by an Americamn tour where we played in the North and South of that continent,” he said.

Zandisile Blacks Mbizela, another founding member, looked back with glee as he told of their favourite moments.

“In Canada we were so well received that we even left some of our equipment there so that we can play more often.

We used to stay with this old couple and one time we found that they were in the process of separating but our presence brought them back together,” he remembered.

He said they were very happy to be finally recognised while Qotoyi said there was still an interest in their music.

“We can go and perfom in Jo’burg if the situation allows, but these days we do private functions” he said.

They said they were happy to see that youngsters were interested in joining the marimba band and that they used the songs they composed as the basic education into making the music.

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