Active since the 1970s, South African musician Tu Nokwe is still going strong as a performer, educator and businesswomen. She is currently touring Tanzania for the second time this year, on a mission to not only entertain but inspire and educate.
Brought up in a family of six singers, Tu Nokwe initially taught music to township kids in her family's Amajika Youth and Children's Art Project, part of the Nokwe Creative Development Foundation that was founded in 1976. She later traveled to London and New York, where she took lessons at the famous Manhattan School of Music. When she returned home in 1993, she started gathering material for her first album, Inyakanyaka, which was released in 1996. It was followed in 2002 by African Child.
Now in her 50s, she has fashioned herself as a motivational speaker/singer and life coach, writing an inspirational diary called The Journey of Life and devising ‘Tu Nokwe’s Circle of Life Empowerment Tools’. She conducts exclusive voice coaching in her 'Art of Singing & Performance' master classes. She also remains active on stage, for example performing in mid-2015 at two of South Africa’s top jazz venues, The Orbit in Johannesburg and the Jazzy Rainbow in Durban.
In July 2015 Tu visited to Tanzania for the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF). The trip proved so inspiring that she has now returned to the East African nation. Upcoming dates include performances and workshops at the Bagamoyo Festival between 25 and 27 September. These will be followed by special fundraising performances for the AMAP school in Bagamoyo and for schools in Kigamboni at the Sunrise Beach Resort (the dates of which are still to be confirmed); as well as another performance/workshop at the Dhow Counties Music Academy (DCMA) in Zanzibar on 30 September .
According to DCMA director Mitchel Strumpf, “Ms. Nokwe visited Zanzibar during the time of the Zanzibar Film Festival and participated in activities of the Festival. She conducted a workshop for the Certificate and Diploma students at the Dhow Countries Music Academy and performed as a special guest during a concert by the DCMA's Taarab-Kidumbak Ensemble. That visit was a trail-blazer for future visits, an opening of the door to see the interests of people for thinking about music and music-making from the standpoint of music being healthy for broadening the soul of a person, including the sharing of musical sounds like sharing food at a dinner.
“Her voice is magnificent and the music projects she and her family have been doing in South Africa hopefully will associate with the activities of DCMA and other schools of music traditions from African cultures in other parts of Africa to form an Association of Schools of Traditional African Music. This idea was discussed in detail while she was at DCMA. While in Zanzibar previously, Ms Nokwe also gave a master class in singing and African song styles.”
The current tour is billed ‘Khanyisa’ (isiZulu for light). It’s a call to say the 'light of Africa cannot die out’. According to Tu’s tour manager Nena Tenacity, “Our programme is designed to boost inspiration and self-esteem, to reach the highest potential through music, creative interactions and storytelling. This will culminate in life skills/self-management workshops, collaborations, jam sessions, talent showcases and cultural exchange, giving us an opportunity to share whatever we excel in.”
One beneficiary of the tour will be the African Modern Arts Park (AMAP) Project in Bagamoyo, the historical town north of the capital. The project was founded in 2006 by local artist Saidi Mbungu. AMAP serves as Bagamoyo’s first community based learning centre. The centre’s mission is to guide and harbor local talents, help them polish their artistic skills to flourish as professional artists in order to gain a living.
“We strongly believe that Africa needs ongoing inspiration and motivation to maintain happy societies; and that can be achieved through cultural exchange with music, creative collaborations, life and self-management workshops,” added Tu.
For more details about the tour dates, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More on Tu Nokwe in the video below.