Tradition to take centre stage at annual Iscathamiya contest in SA

 The Playhouse Company hosts its annual Iscathamiya Competition on Saturday 24 September in Durban, South Africa.

Isicathamiya choirs are a vital part of South Africa's musical tradition. Photo: Playhouse Company
Isicathamiya choirs are a vital part of South Africa's musical tradition. Photo: Playhouse Company

Now in its 19th year, the Playhouse Company’s Iscathamiya Competition sees top-notch groups converge on the Playhouse for an all-night feast of song and dance, with beautiful voices, swanky costumes and slick moves the order of the evening.

“We are once again delighted to host our annual Iscathamiya Competition as part of The Playhouse Company’s mission to support and promote indigenous South African art forms,” said Ms Linda Bukhosini, Playhouse Company Chief Executive Office and Artistic Director.

Iscathamiya (or isicathamiya) is the traditional Zulu unaccompanied harmonious singing and tightly-choreographed dance style performed by mostly male groups. An integral part of traditional music in South Africa for many decades, the Grammy-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo have succeeded in taking this homegrown style to audiences around the world.

The competition will feature winning groups from the various regional competitions held around KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces, which were completed in May. This year’s contest will feature groups from the following regions: Ugu, eThekwini, Sisonke, uMgungundlovu, Zululand, uMzinyathi, Amajuba, uThukela, Mbizana, Lusikisiki, uMkhanyakude, uThungulu, and iLembe. It is too late for any new groups to enter.

The next stage is balloting. On Saturday 6 August from 11am, the groups that won the regional elimination rounds will congregate at the Playhouse for the balloting stage, during which groups will draw a number from a hat. That number will dictate the order of their performance at the main event on Saturday 24 September, when the regional winners return to the Playhouse to compete for prizes totalling R150 000 in the all-night extravaganza of traditional music and dance. Groups will compete in the following categories: Top 20, Standard, Open Section, Onubuhle (beauty contest for women) and Oswenka (fashion for men). One deserving group even wins a goat.

For more information, phone Dawn on (+27)31 369 9407 or the Playhouse Box Office at (+27)31 369 9540/9596.

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