Oh Gugs, as you turn 60, memories flood

2018-06-21 06:00
Godfrey MpuluGugs @60

Godfrey MpuluGugs @60

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When residents of Gugs first came to enjoy the great spectacle of the drum majorettes, it was all thanks to the initiative of the very imaginative principals, the likes of Messrs Mandindi, Vumazonke and Qengwa.

As much as they were disciplinarians, they were also artists. The majorettes costumes were designed in their respective school colours. Majorettes, the queens, drummers and the bugle players were carefully chosen and graded.

They made those girls and boys very proud. Think of the popularity and confidence they (school kids) gained. They were our own celebrities. Who can forget Yvonne, the high-stepping Luzuko Primary School queen? An awesome yellow bone. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

We lit up our own spaces. Sunday afternoons were always adorned with choir uniforms of all designs – be it long satin dresses or black tuxedos and bow ties.

Anything less than that was below standard. The choir conductors had to stand out from the crowds, putting on cream, white or lavishly styled jackets.

No choir mushroomed on its own. There was always a dedicated person who sacrificed his time, space and money to start a quartet or a small choir.

I have in mind the Ngcukanas, Qavanes, Mkhontos, Noveves, Banjatwas and the Mabopes. Our church halls, the civic hall and community centres were always abuzz with rich melodies, harmonies and swaying moves, thanks to the well-chosen anthems, solos, choruses and izitibili/sounds. Unless it was a “programmed” concert, Sputsu would always run up and down the aisles with his saucer, ready to accept coins. We would shout “Encooore!”, “Sputsu!”, for a repeat performance. Who invented this novel idea that brought spice to our music? A concert in town and ikonsathi in Gugs were two different occasions.

The much polished PSS, Teenage Harmonies, Glee Singers, Cape Town Voices and Qavane Family Choir brought their own flair to the township music culture.

More class meant less fun. Well, it had to come because now our choirs had to train and practice for well-structured national eisteddfods, rendering hectic pieces by Mohapeloa, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, Mzilikazi and Mnomiya. You would think they slept at the practice venue in order to master these pieces.

Back to the memories of the Guguletu Civic Hall, which we packed with teachers and parents who braced the school choir competitions annually.

Choirs that won were those with talented conductors who fine-tuned their singing and went an extra mile. The vernacular winner was offered a shield, hence the event was called Ekhakheni.

Can you remember those special haircuts for the learners who were cropped at overcrowded barbershops the weekend before the eisteddfod? The conductors went to town, dressing up for the stage. We grew up with a cappella music. So, if you sing at home everyone had to sing his own part in harmony, be it one, two, three, four or even five parts.

We could differentiate between five voice parts sang by the King’s Messengers, King’s Heralds and Golden Gate and just sing the music. On New Year’s Eve, young boys sang till dawn. Think Bra Montgomery Gaika, a stylish mentor.

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