Local artist plans to share Xhosa traditional music at NAF

PROUDLY XHOSA: Talented performer Yakha Mlali is excited to showcase his production of ‘Iingoma Zomngqungo: On a Road with Yakha Mlali’ at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda next month. Picture: ALAN EASON

Buffalo City’s own Yakha Mlali will take to the National Arts Festival (NAF) stage for the second consecutive year with his original production, lingoma Zomngqungo:On a Road with Yakha Mlal, from June 20-23.

The show will be performed by his company, Siba Lam Arts Organisation.

Sonwa Sakuba, from the Sonwa Sakuba Institute for Performing Arts said Mlali’s performance at the NAF is significant for the East London performing arts industry as a whole.

“It shows the calibre of East London and Buffalo City work is on par with everybody else,” Sakuba said.

Daniel Anderson, star of the award-winning one-man production, Vincent, has benefitted greatly from  performing at the NAF and believes Mlali’s consecutive inclusion bodes well.

“The NAF is the most beautiful platform to plant the seeds for what can be the most amazing journey as an artist and as a production.

“It allows a safe space for that seed to germinate and for an artist to get into a comfortable space.

“My advice to him is to keep doing what he is doing and never lose the essence and the investment he has had,” Anderson said.

Mlali, who is a former student of the Sonwa Sakuba Institution for Performing Arts, is the writer, and producer of the show.

“This show is a celebration of Xhosa music and storytelling and I truly believe it tells a Xhosa story that will resonate with many. We have performed the show many times before but it will be different now because we have a different cast, there is also a slight change to the story and the staging will also be different,” Mlali said.

The vision behind Iingoma Zomngqungo is to share a narrative of themes such as identity, faith, tradition and resilience. Mlali wrote the play to share his journey exploring his spiritual calling as a Christian, something that has caused much confusion in his life.

“This play is a love letter to my roots. A homage to the ancestors who guide our steps and the celebration of the rich tapestry of Xhosa traditions.

“I hope to one day travel the country and carry this production for the world to see. We are planning to tour to Cape Town,” Mlali said.

The talented writer and performer hopes to use his organisation to help other artists navigate their careers.

“I struggled a lot in my career because of my home situation, and I also experienced some trauma as a result of someone stealing my song.

“It was a difficult journey, but it made me determined to use my business to help protect others and generate an income to help others.

“I also produce all my work in Xhosa to keep the language and the culture, alive,” Mlali said.

Tickets are available on the official National Arts Festival ticket website.


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