My name is Alexandra Mandewo and I am more than thrilled to be able to watch Black Umfolosi perform at Evergreen Cultural Centre on March 25. Black Umofolosi is a Zimbabwean acapella group that shows the true essence of the Zimbabwean culture through their music and performance.
My parents Trish & Alex Mandewo are originally from Zimbabwe so I have listened to Zimbabwean music since I was born. Because of the early and constant exposure to the music, I am familiar with this type of music. I did not love or hate the music, but I was able to listen to it and sing along to a few parts and bob my head to the beat. It was not until 2016, when I visited Zimbabwe, that I fell in love with the music. On that trip, I got to see traditional Zimbabwean music performed live in the two main Zimbabwean languages: Shona & Ndebele. Music is alive everywhere in Zimbabwe so I experienced live performances at different locations such as walking through the park, on stages throughout Harare at tourist venues etc.. No matter where, the music gets everyone dancing and singing along. You might have seen the recent Amazing Race episode with the Zimbabwean song that got stuck in everyone’s head. My favorite performance in Ndebele, the language that Black Umfolosi uses was in Victoria Falls at the Boma Dinner & Dance show. I was entranced by the singing, dancing, energy and storytelling.
Black Umfolosi has the same high energy that made me fall in love with Zimbabwean music. Picturing myself in the audience dancing and singing with them makes me smile because it brings me back to Zimbabwe. Music and dance is an important part of African culture. Each song is more than just a song, it’s a story. One of the beautiful things about most traditional African songs is that they have been passed down. Hearing these songs and understanding the stories they tell makes me feel more knowledgeable of my roots.
I am also excited about this concert because they are acapella. I am a fan of pitch perfect movies where acapella is the main focus of the movie. Black Umfolosi is nothing like pitch perfect though. There is no beat boxing, it is just pure voices singing like a choir. I like to call them the African acapella group.
I am most excited about having the people of the Tri-Cites hearing these songs, feeling the energy and maybe learning a thing or two about my culture. It is because of people like the men in Black Umfolosi who find a way to share their culture in a way they love, that I am inspired and proud to be Zimbabwean.
Alexandra Mandewo, Grade 8 Student, Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School