Joe Makhanza’s storage room is 6000 kilometres from Mali, where he learned how to build his instruments, but they sound just as sweet when he plays them.
Makhanza builds several different instruments that he sells, including the kamalen ngoni and the kora, which are stringed, wooden instruments of West African origin.
He stores some of them in a room on the 8th floor of University Corner.
“I make my own instruments, they are my babies,” says Makhanza.
Makhanza completed his bachelor of music at Wits in 2007. As well as building instruments and working as a musician, he now also teaches music at four schools.
He says he was approached by the City of Ekurhuleni to run the programme.
Working with the City, Makhanza teaches a variety of “indigenous” instruments to primary school pupils from grade R to grade six.
He wants to create an orchestra and hold a festival to allow them to perform this year.
“I had to make them believe in me,” says Makhanza, who had to go through “serious interviews” before the City of Ekurhuleni chose him for the job.
“When somebody else looks at a tree, they just see a tree.When I look at a tree I see an instrument,” says Makhanza.
He says he gets inspiration for new instruments in strange places such as buildings, pipes and in his dreams.
He concludes by saying:
“I have learned whatever instrument you play you must master it”.