Music In Africa Foundation’s traditional instruments concert a hit

The Music In Africa Foundation’s Instrument Building and Repair Project ended with a memorable concert at the Wits Theatre in Johannesburg on Friday last week.

World-renowned South African musician Dizu Plaatjies. Photo: Music In Africa
World-renowned South African musician Dizu Plaatjies. Photo: Music In Africa

The event featured only indigenous African instruments and celebrated traditional music with stellar performances from world-renowned South African musician Dizu Plaatjies and his Ibuyambo ensemble, Senegalese Kora griot Noumoucounda Cissoko and the versatile duo of Bavikile “MaBhengu” Ngema and Mpho Molikeng.

The venue was packed despite heavy rains in Johannesburg just before the concert. It opened with a short panel discussion, moderated by popular Kaya FM DJ, Nicky B. The discussion provided a platform for performers to share their experiences and perspectives with the audience. This brought some of the key challenges they face to the fore, notably the fact that traditional African musical instruments are slowly dying. The panelists also talked about the changing role and design of African instruments in modern music, as well as their commitment to preserving the legacy of indigenous African instruments.

Dizu, also a lecturer at University of Cape Town in the department of Ethnomusicology, received an ovation from the audience when he vowed that African instruments would not die, as long as he is alive.

MaBhengu, clad in colorful traditional attire, opened the performances at the concert. She wooed the audience with her umakhweyana playing techniques and daring dance moves. Later, she was joined on stage by Mpho Molikeng, whose accompaniment took the show to another level.

Noumoucounda has collaborated with almost all the big names in West African music, including Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour. His performance proved why he is also considered one of the best kora players in the world. It was definitely one of the highlights of the night.