Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Madosini - The Queen of Pondoland music

An artist very close to our hearts at Peak is Madosini Manqina from Langa in Cape Town. Though she's an old lady, who can’t speak English we have been able to build a very warm relationship with her - she's like a real grandmother showering us with hugs and kisses whenever we see each other.

Lenny spent a good month with her when we took Amampondo on tour to the Benelux in 2000, and we have since been sending her to festivals and events around the world.

Though essentially a solo artist and story-teller, its her mastery in the making and playing of the Uhadi (berimbau), Isitololo (Jews Harp) Umrhubhe (mouthbow), and she adds this speciality to the sound of many groups and collaborations.

She's been a regular part of Amampondo, she worked with Thandiswa Mazwai on the short film Spirit of the Uhadi and her album Zabalaza, and has appeared at WOMAD Festivals in the UK, Australia, Singapore, and many more, with artists like Patrick Duff (ex-Strangelove) and Vuyo Katcha. She also represented the Xhosa tribe in the multi-cultural Jazz ensemble PedXulu (a combination of Pedi, Xhosa and Zulu musicians)

One of our most exciting experiences with her was our first attempt to send her off on tour with the Pondo's in 2002. The group were on their way to perform with the
The Sto:lo (People of the River) or First People of Chilliwack, Canada, and we had booked all the travel and accommodation using the information we had received from the group, including Madosini. But when we arrived at the BA check-in counter, they refused to let her on the plane, as the name on her ticket was different from the name in her passport...

You feel the bottom of your world fall out from under you when this happens, and the only thing to do, is to move into four-wheel drive and pull the funniest faces you can to ensure the artist is on that plane.

The ground-staff were amazing, and gave us the time of the flight to Johannesburg to sort it out with the airline there – they let her on the flight as long as we knew that there was a chance she would be stranded in JHB – motivation enough for Lenny to pull out all stops and beg, plead and threaten. What a relief it was to eventually get her on the flight to Canada later that night.

It was only later that same year, when we sent her to WOMAD Canary Islands when another abnormality was sorted out. Madosini’s birth date made her out to be a beautiful, sprightly 82-year old. We were always amazed at how good she looked, with clear skin and eyes, and great spirit, but the Spanish didn’t feel the same.

When travelling to Spain, every tourist has to have Travel and Health insurance. In South Africa the insurance companies do not insure anyone over the age of 80… so what do you do? Lots of negotiating, lots of begging, and lots of frustration – but we got her in.

It was only during the research and filming of Thandiswa’s Spirit of the Uhadi while in the Transkei that it was discovered that Madosini was 20-years younger than originally thought – and it’s much easier for us to now sort out those insurance issues!

Madosini is currently performing in Germany, and after returning briefly in July she will be making a Special Guest appearance on Peak’s behalf at the Mouthbow Music Festival MUZIEKGEBOUW AAN ‘T IJ in Amsterdam, the Netherlands at the end of the month.

Madosini lives in a single room in an old hostel in the heart of Langa with 6 other adults, and 4 children under the age of 6.

But it’s her music that opens the mind to the wide sky of the Transkei, her poetry sings of the green hills and snow covered mountains, and if you close your eyes, you can feel the heat of the traditional fire, the sparks drifting to the heavens, and the calming hands of the ancestors on your shoulders.

Madosini Manqina – the Queen of Pondoland.

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