South Africa: festival toasts Xhosa culture

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Nov 8 14:10:06 UTC 2006

Festival toasts Xhosa culture

By Tonight Reporter

Praise singers, traditional healers, dancing, poets, storytelling and
choral music are part of the week-long line-up of the second annual Xhosa
Festival unfolding in Langa township next week. The festival aims to
celebrate one of the Western Cape's most popular languages and cultures
and is funded by the local Department of Cultural Affairs, Sport and
Recreation. Langa is the home of deceased diva Brenda Fassie, who shares a
Xhosa heritage with powerful political minds such as Nelson Mandela and
President Thabo Mbeki.

Apart from performance arts, a Xhosa symbols exhibition will be on show to
aid visitors in understanding and appreciating isiXhosa. The festival was
born out of the Xhosa Awareness Week, a project initiated by the Western
Cape Language Committee a few years ago, and spearheaded by the
department's Language Unit since inception. The Western Cape Language
Policy is also an influencing factor as the festival seeks to elevate the
status of isi-Xhosa within the province.  Mandla Yeki, spokesperson at the
local Cultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation Department, said the festival
would "also contribute towards social cohesion and the improvement of race
relations". "The department wants to position the festival in the tourism
industry to showcase our heritage. Tourists will also be bussed in from
the V&A Waterfront to Langa to experience the richness of Xhosa culture
and traditions," said Yeki.

A host of academic and cultural participants will offer visitors insight
into Xhosa life. Dr Nokuzola Mndende, an academic on African religion,
will also explain the significance and meaning of authentic symbols
associated with Xhosa culture. Dizu Plaatjie, an indigenous music lecturer
at UCT, will have various performances of his ancient traditional music
instrument. Madosini, a renowned artist from Langa, will show off her
magical performance of indigenous Xhosa instruments. "Dizu and Madosini
will also run workshops on indigenous music for the aspiring musicians,"
said Yeki.

Still on the cultural front, the Commission for the Promotion and
Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities
will conduct a discussion on the rites of passage (initiation schools)
which have, in recent years, come under fire for unhealthy practices.
Afro-jazz artists will keep visitors on their feet. Musicians Louis
Moholo, the Ngcukana Brothers, Robbie Jansen, Mervyn Afrika, Mankunku
Ngozi, Zim Ngqawana, Amampondo, Abavuki and Afro Vibrations have all been
summoned to perform. The Artscape theatre is to host theatre productions
written and produced by local isiXhosa producers while the main shows
featuring drama and storytelling will be interspersed with poetry from
popular poets and praise singers such as Thozama Yawa, Nelisa Sipamla and
Dr Zanemvula Zotwana.

Senior citizens will benefit from the festival by receiving free medical
check-ups. The Xhosa Festival is free and runs from Monday, November 13 to
19 from 9am daily. Venues in Langa are Guga S'thebe, Johnson Ngwevela
Civic Hall, Tsoga, St Francis Hall, Langa Sport Complex and Marikana

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