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Music SDC

Celebrating makhoyane at Nzango Artist Residency

Nzango Artist Residency


Swaziland >> Mozambique

Swati artists Thobile “Makhoyane” Magagula and Cara Stacey will collaborate with Matchume Zango and other Mozambican musicians at the Nzango Artist Residency, one of our Regional Mobility Partners, located on the outskirts of Maputo from 1 to 12 October 2019.

Thobile is recognised as a leading figure within the younger generation of musicians who are active in indigenous music in eSwatini. She began her performing life as a singer and dancer, and subsequently took up the makhoyane, a tall, gourd-resonated braced musical bow. Her music has involved original compositions on the instrument, improvisation and collaborations with spoken word and other performance genres.

The makhoyane is largely considered the national instrument of eSwatini but despite this there are few remaining players of the makhoyane. Though there are numerous male performers, the makhoyane is traditionally considered a woman’s instrument, with young women learning to play before marriage. The makhoyane player typically sings narrative songs about early courtship, local stories, or the struggles of life, whilst playing along on the musical bow.

Cara Stacey is a musician and ethnomusicologist who grew up in eSwatini and is an active scholar, performer and archivist of indigenous instrumental music in the country. Her recent PhD investigated innovations among makhoyane players in eSwatini and she works with many musicians creating performances and recordings of these and other instruments.

While in Maputo, Thobile and Cara will collaborate with Matchume Zango and other Mozambican musicians to give concerts at local venues, and record six songs that will become part of an album. Some of the songs will be new interpretations of well-known Swati recordings. The Mozambican musicians will need to learn, adapt and find common ground with the Swati tradition. The process will be documented and shared via video.