Songs of Lozikeyi reminisce Dubai experience

The Chronicle

Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Reporter
BULAWAYO has arisen and the United Arab Emirates has consented.

Stamping their authority in the halls of the Bulawayo Large City Hall on a sunny Thursday afternoon on June 3, 2021, at the Bulawayo Arts Festival, the crew which goes by the name Songs of Lozikeyi seems unstoppable.

Thousands of kilometres away from their motherland, the artistes did not let their guard down as they took their A-game to Dubai.

Songs of Lozikeyi received a thunderous applause from expo attendees from all over the world for their performance at the Zimbabwe National Day at Expo Dubai 2020 on Monday. The event was graced by dignitaries from Dubai,

President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwean diplomats, ministers, art authorities, and artistes.
Songs of Lozikeyi portrays a vivid image of Queen of the Ndebele, Lozikeyi Dlodlo’s power, energy, and leadership. It is a production of music laced with dance and poetry. It has six tracks – Story, Halala Lozikeyi, Mbungazeni, Asambeni, Sizopika and Queen Lozikeyi.

The production is made up of 18 artistes.  For the Dubai trip the cast and crew included Cheryl Mabaya, Nomaqhawekazi “Lady Tshawe” Damasane, Paul Maseko, Caleb Majure, Mehluli Dube, Vuyile Qongo, Laura Ngwenya, Nomathamsanqa “Nkwali” Mkhwananzi, Alice Gurure, Raymond Takawira, Patricia Thandeka Jele, Samuel Mabhena, Dorcas Ngwenya, Makula Moyo, Saimon “Mambazo” Phiri and Josh Nyapimbi.

The group that performed on the Angola stage, as well as the Zimbabwe National Day, got positive responses from jovial crowds who were appreciative of their art. Clad in national dress fabrics that were designed by Tendai Chuba and Vuyelwa Mabhena, the group’s colourful attire and well-choreographed act had the audiences glued to the stage.

Their astounding performance that had already gotten endorsement from President Mnangagwa during the Bulawayo Arts Festival last year showed how possible it was to curate productions that can make an impact on international forums.

But for all this to be possible, the main pillar of strength can be through individual and corporate support to the creative sector. From financial support to appreciation of the creative artistes’ works, all this will go a long way in ensuring that creatives from Bulawayo bask in the glory of being the country’s cultural hub.

It is high time that such immense talent is noticed. The city’s artistes who teamed up for this production showed the power of unity, something that should be emulated.

Saturday Leisure caught up with some members from the Songs of Lozikeyi cast who gave a rundown of their experience in Dubai and the performances.

Songstress Thandy Dhlana said it was an honour to be part of such a production and be selected to represent the country. She added that such an opportunity does not come along very often.

“As an artiste and songwriter, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been tasked with the creation of the Lozikeyi songs that we played. Getting the chance to perform for His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe, and other dignitaries from around the world, particularly the princes of Dubai, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me as an artiste.

Songs of Lozikeyi

“Performing on an international stage is always about representing your country and many artistes aspire to have such an opportunity. As a result, this was a significant step forward for the country’s entire art business; we didn’t travel there to represent ourselves, but rather the entire industry while exporting our culture through music.

“I believe that each of us that was a part of the team learned a lot and that this will help shape our industry by allowing us to share our experiences,” Dhlana said.

“I want to express gratitude to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for inviting us to an expo designed to allow individuals from all around the world to share cultural and business ideas. I’m hoping that our performance will go a long way in demonstrating what Zimbabwe as a whole is capable of.”
Songstress Nkwali, who is one of the lead singers of Songs of Lozikeyi, said she gave it all at the expo.

“It was an amazing and fantastic experience to perform in front of two powerful heads of state. I felt fearless and more confident about myself and my performance. The whole cast of team Songs of Lozikeyi made my life easier. We are pieces of a puzzle and when put together we make a very beautiful picture,” she said.
Bass guitarist Maseko said being in Dubai was a dream come true.

“Dubai is like a movie, it’s so unreal, it’s heaven on earth and playing there was a dream come true. The people in Dubai also appreciate art and craft as they welcomed us with warm hands,” he said.

Said Iyasa dancer Gurure: “I had a great time during my Songs of Lozikeyi tour at the Dubai Expo 2020. Seeing beautiful tall buildings was breath-taking. I had the opportunity to perform for my country during the country’s celebrations and also got to experience the Botswana and Cameroon cultures through music and dance.”

Guitarist Takawira said the Dubai experience was eye-opening, educational and fun.

“As a guitarist, I was inspired to dwell more on our cultural music since the world really seemed to love it.”

Said Iyasa dancer Dorcas Ngwenya: “It was a great opportunity being one of the people who went to perform in Dubai. I was proud to be Zimbabwean as we performed very well. It was and is still a great pleasure to set foot in such a country UAE as it’s a place of great people. I was really fascinated by their cleanliness and order.”

She thanked President E.D Mnangagwa for giving them a chance to participate in the expo and also meet artistes from other regions. “Surely, our government is taking us seriously like any organ representing Zimbabwe elsewhere.

We were hosted well in Dubai. So good was it that we wished to stay there longer.”

Backing vocalist Laura “Katso” Ngwenya concurred with sentiments from her fellow crew members that the experience was memorable.

“The Dubai trip was an amazing experience. We had the opportunity to experience other people’s beautiful cultures and learn. I’m honoured to have been selected as part of the artistes to represent the country as a whole,” said Katso.
About Songs of Lozikeyi

A brainchild of Nyapimbi under Nhimbe Trust and Mambazo under Sabela Music, Songs of Lozikeyi was created to fully celebrate Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo. Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo was one of Ndebele King, Lobengula’s wives and is best described as beautiful, powerful in stature and a shrewd mistress of intrigue.

She was the inspiration and sponsor of the 1896 Anglo-Ndebele war often called the first uprising against the British colonialists when she distributed guns, blessed the troops and was consulted by the commanders of the uprising including Nyamande, son of King Lobengula and Hawana Mayisa.

“Growing up, people watched theatre shows like Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet and productions like Sarafina and Shaka the Zulu king. So Nyapimbi and Mambazo thought, why not have our own and tell the story of Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo through music,” the productions keyboardist Prince Joel Nyoni said.

“Queen Lozikeyi was a woman who was very active in the war against white people. That’s why Bulawayo is known as ‘Komfazi otshaya indoda’, it’s because of Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo. It is said she would cause havoc at a place that is now known as Bulawayo Club as she would brutally attack whites who would take advantage of blacks. That is why we came up with the production to celebrate her strength,” Nyoni said.

He said their production was also meant to cement writer, Pathisa Nyathi’s efforts in telling the story of Queen Lozikeyi through his book — Lozikeyi Dlodlo: Queen of the Ndebele.

“There is a book by Pathisa Nyathi about Queen Lozikeyi. We decided to complement his efforts by having this production as not everyone reads. So we thought that if we came up with a musical version, at least people would enjoy watching it,” he said. – @mthabisi_mthire

Article Source: The Chronicle

Enjoyed this post? Share it!