Zimbabwe A Capella Group Captures Audience With Soulful Music
Nobuntu shares African music culture with WCC. (Photo: Bozhena Shuplat)
Audiences were transported to Zimbabwe Africa by the a capella group Nobuntu. The name Nobuntu is an African concept that values humbleness, love, purpose, unity, and family from a woman’s’ perspective, and this message is reflected in their music. The five-part a capella group consists of young women from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, South Africa.
The performance was made possible by Smart Arts, on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. in the Academic Arts Theatre.
“I went to the concert because it’s an unusual opportunity to hear a choir from Zimbabwe, so I was excited by that and it’s even more unusual to have women singing that kind of a capella music so I was really glad that this school did it,” said WCC’s Film Professor Ellen Kreger.
Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, and as the vocalists explained, their cultural city breeds talent. This tour was Nobuntu’s first American tour, where they spent six weeks on the road performing.
Nobuntu is an Imbube group, the classification of their form of a capella, which has always been male dominated until Nobuntu came into the music industry six years ago. Despite doubt by men in Africa, since Imbube groups have low bass sounds, the Nobunto singers have proved them wrong as they’re still able to achieve this sound level.
The musical group used common instruments like drums and tambourines but also used instruments unique to their African culture, used their voices and beads tied around their ankles to enhance their performance.
When it comes to their performance skills, all of the women contributed to the writing process, writing their own songs. Most of the members don’t have traditional music and dance training, but learned how to sing and dance at an early age from their music-loving backgrounds. Upon being naturally talented women, some are married with children and admitted to always singing, dancing, and hanging out together when they’re not on stage.
Throughout their performance one of the vocalists asked for the house lights to be turned on multiple times to talk to spectators about African culture, taught the audience how to click, pronounce African terms, and demonstrated traditional African dances.
One of their most memorable songs was their own rendition of the classic “Amazing Grace”, combining the lyrics written by John Newton to the soulful rhythms that can only be produced through this Zimbabwe group.
Each of the woman were dressed in garbs reflecting different tribal groups found in the Southern region of Africa, dressed in technic colors paired with white converse which was an interesting contract and nod to common day apparel.
Another song exemplified the performers’ beliefs about marriage and abuse. Traditional Africans’ views have shifted in reference to marriage and abuse. With previous generations, if a daughter were to approach her mother after being repeatedly beaten by her husband, her mother would respond by saying that’s how men react to their wives, but it has now been recognized that abusing one’s wife is never justifiable and mothers would rather have their daughters at home than let them be a battered wife.
These women have inspired other young women in Africa, not just being the first women Imbube group, but allowing them to believe that there is no need to limit themselves because of their sex.
“I thought they were amazing, the idea that they could sing like that with nothing other than their bodies I thought was just amazing,” said Kreger. “The sound was incredible and it was so different than the kind of music that we usually hear. You could hear the origins of a lot of different music genres I thought in what they were singing.”
The formation of the group came by chance after they all auditioned their current record label who put out a notice for an all-female a capella group. Since their formation, the ensemble have been met with nothing but success: they won Outstanding Imbube Group in the inaugural 2017 Bulawayo Arts Award, competing against all men groups.
With this tour, they have traveled within the United States, performing in Florida, Washington D.C., and confessed that their favorite stop was New York City. The ladies have also traveled internationally, from the Czech Republic, to Germany, and Switzerland.