The Sabbath: a musical journey of grief and healing 

Jazz musician dazzles music lovers with an acoustic concert 

Multifaceted South African musician, Gabi Motuba debuted her new project, The Sabbath in a concert held at Wits Chris Seabrooke music hall on Saturday, May 6. 

Motuba is a Johannesburg-based vocalist, composer and music facilitator whose music is centred around world politics, black studies, religion and genre studies. She released her first album, Sanctum Sanctorium in 2016 and Tefiti Goddess of Creation in 2019. 

In the project, released on June 28, 2022, Motuba shifted her focus to talk about her experience with grief; as her father lost his battle against Covid-19, during the pandemic. As a result, the project consists of five lamentation songs  that would leave any listener in a state of melancholy.  Motuba told Wits Vuvuzela that: “The project is largely a very reflective work for me in terms of moving from trauma into grief and into the pursuit of restoration”. 

Wits music alumni, Tembinkosi Mavimbela, who played double bass during the performance said that in The Sabbath, Motuba showed immense vulnerability. He described her performance as a form of supplication to a higher power. “Her performance was a prayer indeed; it takes courage to be vulnerable on stage and we shouldn’t look at a Sabbath in one direction because we approach prayer in different ways.” 

Thembinkosi Mavimbela interacting with friends and fans after the concert. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

What added to her performance was the concert took place at the state-of-the-art music hall . The venue is the only space in the city that is exclusively designed to optimize live musical sound with modern acoustic design. This added to Motuba’s exceptional vocal range.  

Wits art student, Rethabile Zilila said that she was surprised at how audible everything was but appreciated the spacious nature of the hall.  

Motuba explained that as a composure, mostly working with string instruments, she chose the venue because she knew the acoustics of the room will produce a beautiful sound.   

The attendees’ sight senses were also activated. While Motuba was performing, there was a background theme inspired by nature on display.  

Wits Fine Arts lecturer, Zen Marie, who was in charge of the displays said he sets up the landscape in response to the music.  

This was evident as he displayed dark clouds as she was performing a track titled, Nabu Lobosuku , which means here’s the night. This exuded a dimmer and sombre atmosphere with the mood in the room quietening down as everybody was enthralled by her voice.  

The final part of the performance had a much lighter and brighter landscape, consisting of clear skies, which was an important moment showing the transition from grief to freedom. One could clearly feel the biblical reference as she sang the last track on the album, Amen, meaning the end. 

The hour-long concert was attended by the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai and former head of the Wits School of Arts Professor Brett Pyper.    

Rethabile Zilila and Thandiswa Mazwai posing for a picture. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

FEATURED IMAGE: Gabi Motuba thanking her audiences after her performance. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov


UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Nearly R2-million raised in 1Million1Month campaign

The Wits SRC have raised R1, 7 million after Wits chancellor Dikgang Moseneke and ten of his friends donated R50 000 each at the “One million, One month” launch earlier today.

The “One million, One month” campaign was officially launched by the Wits Student Representatives Council (SRC) at the Great Hall today even though the campaign reached its initial target of R1-million last Friday. The SRC was joined by the campaign’s ambassadors whose contributions today saw the total amount rise to R1,7 million.

Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, one of the ambassadors, donated R50 000 and arranged for ten of his friends to match his contribution.

“I have phoned a number of my friends and I said to them I will make a commitment on my feet today … and at least 10 of them said they will match me”, Moseneke said.

“One of my friends was moved by young comrades thinking in a very revolutionary way. They have a deep grievance but they find a positive way to address it”, Moseneke added.

Wits vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, said he hopes that the campaign raises one or two million more.

“I will not lie to you. We are hoping to make R2 or 3 million … I will not have enough money to fund all students,” Habib said.

Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini pointed out that he was no longer talking to the Department of Higher Education (DHE), about the problem but he refuses to see 2788 students go back home.

“One of my friends was moved by young comrades thinking in a very revolutionary way. They have a deep grievance but they find a positive way to address it”

“Our wish is to take all 2788 students to class because that is the future of the nation. I can’t lose 2788 students, I cannot,” Dlamini said.

LEGACY: Advocate George Bizos, attended the Wits SRC's One Million, One Month launch at the Wits Great Hall. The Human Rights Lawyer is best known for representing Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial. Photo: Tendai Dube

LEGACY: Advocate George Bizos, attended the Wits SRC’s One Million, One Month launch at the Wits Great Hall. Photo: Tendai Dube

Advocate George Bizos, who was the first official ambassador of the campaign, shared a moving story of a young woman he knew who struggled financially and recalled his promise to “never let anyone in [his] generation go through the same thing”.

Mpendulo Nkosi, a first year civil engineering student from rural KZN spoke of his difficulties in securing accommodation and funding for his studies at Wits. He was later surprised by the announcement that he was to be fully funded by a donor, the Thusanani Foundation, a youth-led non- profit organisation.

Nkosi said, “I am really thankful, they have done great for me and my family.”

“I am really thankful, they have done great for me and my family”. 

Another significant donation was that of R100 000 from the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF).

Amongst the ambassadors who joined Bizos and Moseneke on stage was poet Lebo Mashile, and singer, Thandiswa Mazwai, both of whom congratulated Wits and the student leadership for their positive reaction to the funding crisis.