Their long walk to freedom
Ladysmith Black Mambazo celebrates 45 years of promoting peace through music
¤ Ladysmith Black Mambazo ¤ 8 p.m. ¤ Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park, 900 Strings Road ¤ $44 ¤ 879-5056
Nelson Mandela’s bodyguards tried to stop him from going on stage while Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed during his 1991 birthday party.
“He stood up and came straight to the stage, and then he did the dancing he does,” Ladysmith Black Mambazo band member Albert Mazibuko said, referring to Mandela’s dance style as “Madiba.”
“You just hold your hands in front of you, but apart from each other. You dance like left and right and go a little bit forward and a little bit back,” Mazibuko said. “I can try to do it, but it’s his dance.”
That birthday performance was the first time the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo saw Mandela after his released from prison. Mazibuko was surprised that after the performance, Mandela approached the band and said, “Keep up the good job. Your music was a great inspiration when I was in jail, and it gave me hope that in South Africa, someday things will be OK.”
“It was so weird. I didn’t expect him to say that about our music,” Mazibuko said. “I was very honored.”
After a performance for the Queen of England, Prince Charles asked the band members how his country could help South Africa.
“Just pray for our independence,” said Joseph Shabalala, who assembled the band in the early 1960s.
The band’s newest album, “Long Walk to Freedom,” celebrates South Africa’s 12 years of democracy, the band’s 45 years of existence and its 30th anniversary of touring around the world.
¤ Ladysmith Black Mambazo
¤ 8 p.m.
¤ Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park, 900 Strings Road
Most of the band members grew up in Ladysmith, South Africa, a very secluded area between Johannesburg and Durban.
“We didn’t have any roads and might stay there a whole year without seeing a car,” Mazibuko said. “We would walk five to six hours to get to the bus stop to get into town.”
It was from the town of Ladysmith that the band got their unique sound. Inspiration came from the sounds made by cows, goats, water and birds singing in the forest. The music also stems from a traditional type of music called isicathamiya.
“A long time ago, when our forefathers went to mines and factories to work in cities and towns, they try to sing that music to entertain themselves because they were away from home, family and loved ones,” Mazibuko said.
They scared people when they danced and stomped because homes in those days were built with wooden floors.
“In order to make peace, they started tiptoeing. When they are not stomping, they were praised,” Mazibuko said. “Isicathamiya means tiptoe, or walk lightly with toes.”
“We have music when waking to make our tasks lighter. We have music for comforting someone when someone dies,” he said. “And the most beautiful music is the wedding music or when we have something to celebrate.”
Mazibuko’s grandmother was a psychic and used music to help her fall asleep.
“She has to sing before she goes to sleep and dance to communicate with the spirits as a way of telling the spirits that she needs her rest,” Mazibuko said.
He learned a great deal from his grandmother about how to take care of a family, stay out of trouble and survive.
“Also when I was teenager, she told me, ‘When I believe in myself and do what I like, I might be able to make a living from it,'” Mazibuko said. “I didn’t believe her at the time, but now it is happening.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The Steamboat Art Museum is bringing back the National Exhibition of Oil Painters of America.