Tuesday, April 24, 2007


World music in Langa

I have spoken many times about one of Cape Town’s most interesting son’s, Dizu Plaatjies, African music lecturer & traditional instrument specialist at U.C.T., composer, story-teller & musician. But I can never say enough!

I am fortunate to work closely with Dizu, and so asked him if he would like to present a number of short clips, in the next few weeks, in which he plays some of the instruments that he specializes in.

In this first piece, Dizu chose to play the Nyungwe, a member of the Mbira or thumb-piano family from Mozambique, but most well known from Zimbabwe.

Dizu’s career started with Amampondo, right in the early days of the group’s formation, where he was the charismatic leader and front-man on stage. Dizu’s persona is regal, and one flash of his smile warms the hearts of his audience – until he starts performing that is, when one feels flashes of ancient history wash over you with his masterful domination of your senses.

He has been hugely successful since he and the group parted ways some years ago, but his teaching projects in Langa, where he mentors the community’s youth, have provided him with an array of talented musicians to form part of his group titled Ibuyambo. If you are into rhythmical traditional music, I can highly recommend MELT 2000’s Dizu Plaatjies & Mzwandile Qotoyi Ethno Trance Live (BNETCD002) – makes me want to get all Johnny Clegg, but I’m afraid I’d pull a hamstring! (Dizu & daughter @ my place)

Dizu has a firm grip on his roots, and by keeping the knowledge of this continents musical history alive, I feel he is a national treasure that needs to be nurtured and respected.

Apart from all the above – he’s a hell of a nice guy too!

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