The group Zim Nobuntu continues its American tour with a stopover in New York
By British correspondent
The all-girl a cappella quintet from ZIMBABWE continues its two-month tour of the United States with a show on Friday at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York.
Nobuntu’s show is the first of concerts scheduled year-round at the newly refurbished Spa Little Theatre, which had not held shows since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officials said that after consulting their lists of possible performers, they zeroed in on Nobuntu, a band whose a cappella style is reminiscent of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The group formed in 2011 and in 2013 released their first recording “Thina” (10th District Music). Two more records followed with frequent US tours and international acclaim.
“All the women come from different parts of Zimbabwe and sing from traditional Zimbabwean to Afro-jazz to gospel,” said Shane Cadman, bookings representative for Alliance Artist Management.
Their distinctive style of South African singing involves rhythmic unity and complex harmonies accompanied by percussion such as mbira and dance movements. A brief overview of their many.
“The band is very popular,” said Cadman, who was already working on Nobuntu’s 2023 tour schedule. “They work with local choirs and workshops. They are incredible women.
Meanwhile, Nobuntu performed last week at the Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta.
Below are excerpts from an interview the band gave after the show;
On the meaning of “Nobuntu” and their music philosophy:
“Nobunto means ‘mother of mankind,'” Joyline said. “We come from Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe, and the most widely spoken language which dominates is Ndebele. Thus, in Ndebele, “no” means “mother” and “ubuntu” is a generic term for all that is good. Love, peace, forgiveness and all that a wife or mother embraces. So we decided to call ourselves “the mothers of ubuntu”.
“’Cula’ means ‘to sing’. So in this song, we say, “Sing when you’re sad.” Sing when you are happy. Sing when you are confused. Anytime, because music gives you peace and music brings love and everything in life, anyone, music connects people,” Joyline said. “You can listen to or sing along to music any day, any time, whether you’re in the office, whether you’re at work, whether you’re in the military, whether you’re at war… music always brings you peace in your heart.”
A self-managed and itinerant family unit:
“My role in the band, I’m a singer, I’m a songwriter. I finance sometimes, like, we rotate the tasks every year. Everyone has their own duty – you know, production, travel and all that. All these things we have to do. So we give each other tasks and we alternate tasks,” Joyline explained.
Duduzile added, “When we started, we had no idea how to behave as Nobuntu. We were touring all over the world and doing everything. In order to learn how to manage ourselves, we decided to give ourselves roles in the group according to our strengths. So, as Joyline pointed out, she does mostly finance. This is where its strength lies. She knows how to manage finances, and I’m the one who talks the most with journalists. I am also a singer, which is my main job at Nobuntu, but I also do publicity… In a nutshell, we mostly manage each other and we also do the work.
Inspired by a love for traditional Zimbabwean song and culture:
“Our sound is rooted mainly in our tradition, our traditional music, most of which is still unknown. But we know it has been passed down to us from generation to generation,” Duduzile said. We have Shona, Heather descent [Dube] and Zanele [Manhenga] from the Shona tribe, and the rest of us are from the Ndebele tribe. So we have a fusion of those two traditions with other tribes that come from the Matebeleland region where we come from in Zimbabwe. Our sound is therefore mainly made up of traditional music… and new compositions that we have composed over the years. But we are more inspired by our traditional music.
“Something I always tell people and preach about where we come from is that we know each other. Identity is very, very important where we come from,” Duduzile said. “You have to know who your ancestors are, what your lineage is, and your ancestors and how you came to be so you can put yourself out there in the world like we do… It’s something that comes easily to us, because that it’s been passed down to us orally from generation to generation, so what we’re just doing is taking it out of Zimbabwe, out of Africa, out into the world.