‘Learn my music before I leave’

 Madosini doing her thing and showing learners how it is done.
Madosini doing her thing and showing learners how it is done.

Madosini Maphahleni, the legendary Xhosa bow player, recognising that no one lives forever, has sent out an appeal to the youth to follow in her footsteps.

Speaking during the Living Legends Programme (LLLP) master class held at Chris Hani Arts School, the indigenous music legend spoke from the heart, urging the youth to “love their culture”.

“I have taught foreign people my skills and how to build these instruments but there has been no South African or a Xhosa person saying teach me,” said Madosini.

Madosini was conducting the class as part of the Department of Arts and Culture’s strategy of using veteran musicians and artists over the age of 70 years to impart their skills to the youth.

Lulama Ndabankulu from the Department of Arts and Culture said it was important that veterans like Madosini shared their stories.

“Her hsitory is rich and we must allow young children to tap into that so that we can unearth new Madosinis for the future,” she said.

Ndabankulu said they have gathered most of the ageing artists to be part of the LLLP.

Madosini is an award winning indigenous musician and her visit to the school provided a little insight on why she is celebrated.

She told the learners that she was one of the few people who still play that kind of music.

“That’ why I want some of you to come out and say to me “teach us Madosini”, I will do that free of charge because I don’ want this music to die with me,” she said to a thunderous applause.

In August 2015 the Department of Arts and Culture announced the Legends Living Legacy Programme, the initiative seeks to honour the living legends of the arts, culture and heritage sector, document their contribution and provide opportunities for interaction and imparting skills to younger generations of artists.

In September this year, the Department of Arts and Culture conducted a workshop to outline the vision of the Living Legends Legacy Programme (LLLP).

It is from this vision and through engagement with the Living Legends themselves, that a programme of lectures on various topics and a Master Classes incubator programme has been developed.

“The aim of this initiative is to identify living legends across all arts disciplines and engage them actively in programmes that promote arts and culture development. This is in line with our policy intervention to develop the Living Heritage Policy,” said Ndabankulu.

Madosini sings and plays various indigenous instruments such as the umrubhe (mouth bow), uhadi (calabash musical bow) and sitolotolo (Jewish harp).

Madosini’s music was first recorded in the early 70’s, and played on the radio without royalties being paid to her.

In 1997, she worked with other musicians to produce an album. Her song Wen’usegoli also featured the South African film Yesterday (2004) starring Leleti Khumalo. In 2008 she featured in the song Lion in a Coma by Animal Collective, an internationally recognized experimental psychedelic band originally from Baltimore, Maryland.

In 2008, Madosini performed at the WOMAD festival, and was the first person to be recorded and documented in the festival’s Musical Elders Archives project. She has worked with the likes of Hans and Robert Brokes, Sibongile Khumalo, Thandiswa Mazwai, Mzwandile Qotoyi, Dizu Plaatjies and Pedro Espi-Sanchis. A charismatic practitioner, and representative of an age-old but gradually vanishing endemic culture,

Madosini is recognized as a national treasure and important indigenous knowledge bearer, yet a huge discrepancy exists between the general admiration for her art and any close interaction or involvement with it. Her role as a traditionalist in a fast-changing society pose challenges for research and exploration in indigenous knowledge systems that are of on-going concern to South African intellectual and musical life.

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