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INDIGENOUS INSTRUMENT WORKSHOP (article first published : 2000-11-25)

The BAT Centre will hold a two-day indigenous musical instrument workshop on December 7 and 8.

With workshop facilitator Sazi Dlamini, renowned teachers Ntombiza Sithole and her brother Vika Sithole, will offer a fascinating journey through the wonders of South African indigenous musical instruments, focusing on two particular instruments - umakhweyana (calabash-resonated musical bow) and udloko (single-stringed zither). Umakhweyana was once played throughout Southern Africa, with different versions of the instrument found among the Nguni, Sotho, San and Khoi-San peoples as well as in Brazil, which it reached via slavery. Udloko is a bowed instrument with a resonator, originally a calabash and now often a tin or a wooden device.

A composer and performer of both indigenous African music and township jazz, Sazi Dlamini has a Masters degree in ethno-musicology from the University of Natal (Durban). A part-time lecturer in music history and culture, popular music, African music, and jazz guitar, Dlamini also composes children's music for recording and public performances. He maintains a keen interest in indigenous Nguni musical performance culture, and plays and makes instruments as diverse as musical bows, flutes, skin-drums and xylophones.

Bow player Ntombiza (MaNtshaba) Sithole was born in 1942 among the AbaThembu clan outside Estcourt. One of several sisters who are accomplished indigenous instrumentalists, she grew up playing umakhweyana musical bows, umqangala (mouth-resonated) bows and the ordinary shop-bought harmonica (mouth organ). She possesses a rare mastery of several recognised neo-traditional mouth organ styles which developed among the early- to mid-20th Century migrant working communities of rural Natal and Zululand. At the workshop, she will demonstrate the technique of umakhweyana bow musicianship and will also demonstrate how to assemble a bow from scratch using available materials.

Zither expert Vika Sithole was born in the mid-1940s and is one of the youngest of MaNtshaba's brothers. He is an exponent of the udloko single-stringed zither, an unusual instrument found primarily among BaSotho and BeNguni neo-traditional musicians. This bowed musical instrument, used by Sithole to realise a repertoire of distinctly indigenous origin, is known by several names among the various peoples of the lower south-eastern African seaboard. The BaSotho refer to it widely as segankuri; among isiZulu speakers it is referred to by names such as udloko (abadloko), ubhekindlela, isicelekeshe or isankuni; and AmaXhosa call the instrument igitali. Vuka Sithole will demonstrate the making of abadloko , as well as the udloko playing technique and his own repertoire of songs.

Workshop participants will also learn about the history of the instruments and how they fit into the Southern African musical context. Open to the public, the workshop should particularly interest music teachers and students, musicians, instrument-collectors and historians. The workshop costs R100 pp and runs from 09h00 to 15h00 in the BAT Hall on December 7 and 8. Space is limited to 15 participants. To book, call the BAT Centre on (031) 332-0451 by no later than 16h00 on December 1.




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