Africa Month ended on a high note with a fascinating lecture on Zulu history at the Soweto Theatre.
The Soweto Theatre hosted award-winning, heritage masters student and artist Mbuso Khoza’s Battle of Isandlwana lecture accompanied by the Afrikan Heritage Ensemble. The lecture ran from the May 26 to May 30, and consisted of a deep narrative of historic events that took place in present day KwaZulu – Natal at the dawn of the conflict between natives and settlers.
The lecture not only encouraged the pursuit of one’s heritage and pride in identity, it also incorporated traditional hymns called amaHubo, a popular dance style amongst rural folk called isiShameni, poetry storytelling, and a classical segment.
Beyond being an academic exercise incorporating cultural elements of knowledge, the lecture entertained, creating an electric atmosphere in the famous township’s top theatre venue. One could tell from the loud ululations and participation of the audience in the song and dance. An integral part of South African culture and history was brought to the community in celebration of Africa Month.
Khoza’s message was that it is important for South African artists to contribute to the arts and culture industry, as well as to influence cultural policy, so that the legacy of the country’s heritage can be kept alive. Khoza’s message on stage stemmed from the experience of being an artist and seeing what the arts have done for him and the artists he has worked with.
The Afrikan Heritage Ensemble gave vibrant performances in between the lecture, captivating the audience with a bit of acting, dance and song. The performances were phenomenal, from their stage presence to their emphatic movements.
The theatrical pieces told a love story of two young people. The dancing was an emphatic interpretation of the resistance the people of KwaZulu-Natal waged as they fought for control over their daily lives and their identity.
In all, the experience was a testimony to the power of narrating the past and moving forward. It gave a glimpse of what we can do to preserve our heritage, history and art.
FEATURED IMAGE: Mbuso Khoza and Afrikan Heritage Ensemble. Photo: Mhlontlo Geleba