Audiences are in for an international delight when the Zimbabwean group Black Umfolosi performs at the Errington Hall Nov. 29.
“Experiencing culturally authentic performances by international artists is always interesting and often inspiring,” said Errington Hall music co-ordinator Val Dare.
Black Umfolosi, a five person touring group, performs a capella vocals and traditional dances. They got their start in 1982 with a series of traditional songs performed in support of their football team. This led to performances at local festivals, trade fairs, pan-African tours and ultimately international tours. The political and social upheaval of the 1980s in Zimbabwe gave them a unique opportunity to contribute to the history of the country through their song Unity, which is still being aired today.
Songs in African cultures are an important part of the oral tradition. Black Umfolosi describe their music as being a “vocal newspaper” through which they communicate issues of HIV/AIDS, political tolerance, religion, heritage, culture and globalization.
Leader Sotsha Moyo said, “We have composed songs on climate change that we will be performing at all of our shows as we seek to put in the spotlight the subject which has become a key global issue.”
Singing in multiple languages, including Ndebele, Shona, Kalanga, and English the group’s lush, four-part harmonies form a richly woven sonic tapestry.
Their show also features traditional dance pieces ranging from amabhiza (a harvest dance that borrows movement from the horse) to umtshongoyo (a victory and celebratory dance) and isitshikitsha (a religious and celebratory dance that uses feet stomping). They also perform the more contemporary gumboot dance, which originated in the South African mines where miners entertained themselves after their work day.
Before leaving Bulawayo for the start of their Canadian tour in November, Moyo was interviewed by the Zimbabwe Daily News. “Every single day, we will be staging a show. It will be quite a hectic program but we are looking forward to it,” he said to the paper. “Canada has been one of our favourite destinations. People there love our music like nothing else. Black Umfolosi is a big name and we will have to be at our best to prove that we are still as good as we were during our early years.”
He promises Canadian audiences “memorable, exhilarating and fun-filled performances.” Buoyed by their recent Zimbabwe Music Award (Zima) award in the a capella category, Black Umfolosi will undoubtedly fulfill that promise.
Dare said the Hall is thrilled to be presenting this group and is positive audiences here will enjoy and appreciate them. “I know this group will have special appeal because so many local people from kids to seniors participate in African music and dance programs,” she said.
General admission the performance is $20 and tickets can be bought in advance at Cranky Dog Music, Heaven on Earth and the Errington Store. Tickets for youth 5-12 are $5 at the door and children under age five are free. Refreshments will be available during the evening. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 8 p.m.
For more information, call 250-586-6583.