All girl ensemble set for Europe tour
The music business in Zimbabwe is largely male dominated, but Bulawayo has been an exception somewhat, having had spurts of girl groups emerging from the shadows. One calls to mind the likes of Amavhitikazi, Amakhosikazi and the Sandra Ndebele-led outfit Intombi Zomqangala.
A recent addition is one highly gifted all-female, acappella/imbube group going by the name Nobuntu, whose consummate professionalism and delivery on stage is mind boggling for a one year old group.
They have come together from such male led groups like Siyaya, Kwabatsha and others to forge this potent quintet of strong black women which a singular musical vision.
The Financial Gazette’s Admire Kudita (AK) sat down with the group’s spokesperson and founding member, Duduzile Sibanda (DS), for a chat:
AK: How did the group start?
DS: Basically we are all artists and we know each other and we are friends as well so we decided to start something that’s not here in Zimbabwe an imbube female group. We are friends and decided to try something new. As friends, we have been together for quite a while. It’s the friendship that started through being in many groups. Siphiwe Dube is from Siyaya, Heather Dube is from Intombi Zomqangala. Joyline Sibanda is a studio artist like me. Our first performance as Nobuntu was at Bulawayo Culture Festival, then B.U.P.R.A, Bulawayo Comes Alive, World Music Day and this weekend at Drums Of Peace at the Bulawayo Theatre .
DS: Clare Dangarembga is 24, Heather is 24, Joyleen 24, I am 26 and Siphiwe is 29. We have a rehearsal manager, Heather Dube and she plans out what we do on particular day and we go through a ninety minute set and we rehearse every working day.
AK: Is it because you did not have options?
DS: It’s not because we do not have anything else to do. Claire was at Polytech and she decided to stop and commit to this as something that she wants to do for the rest of her life. The same as others were in other groups and have stopped doing other things so we can commit to this.
AK: Does it have to be an either or proposition, does it have to be arts or school?
DS: You can do both but it will be kind of difficult. Like when Nobuntu needs you, you have to drop school or when school needs you, you have to drop Nobuntu.
AK: What’s your idea about school?
DS: I don’t have anything against school. I am an academic myself. I actually want to study journalism. The arts are a career path though people view them otherwise. If you really love music you can also pursue it academically.
AK: What is your feeling about the state of the arts koBulawayo ?
DS: It’s somehow like a struglle here in Bulawayo. Like it’s very difficult because we are concentrating on this alone. So we have to do it very well.
AK: Are there people who have helped you along the way and if there are who are they?
DS: We take all the credit for our success up to this point.
AK: What is the group’s influence?
DS: Music is our biggest influence. Like we all come from different music backgrounds. Our vision is to see an interracial world where everyone knows each other’s culture and appreciates it, a peaceful world that has love and harmony, more so a world that takes heed of a woman’s are gurus to us those women, they are powerful those women, they have powerful voices.
AK: Seriously speaking that’s an interesting choice of a group that worked under a man!
DS: (laughs) But then they still went on even when Mahlatini wasn’t there and even up to now. Just to show that they are good on their own. Like one of them also died and they got another to come on. They are still very energetic
AK: What’s your musical vision?
DS: Our vision is to see us growing since we are a first of that sort now in our generation. We would like to inspire more women to enter into this arena, to have such an idea. We are trying to show them that we can do it also.
AK: Are you feminist?
DS: Feminism is selfish. It is now taking women and putting them out of context. We are not feminist. There is room for everyone in our world. We look at the issues that affect women and that does not have to be feminism.
AK: If you had to describe your music in a log line what would it be?
DS: The word that comes to me is bliss. Our music is bliss. Our stuff is more of ukukuthaza, encouragement since we are a group that’s growing.
AK: Your performances, how has the crowd responded to you?
DS: We know now that we have a specific crowd, more of a mature crowd. Because the other time when we went to Masina Bar at the Bulawayo Comes Alive festival. We came on at 2 am and you know when people are drunk. The crowd wasn’t so nice to us. One man booed me. He said shush. But we know it wasn’t our crowd. They didn’t appreciate people standing there and singing not dancing and stuff.