I love World Music and have always found the South African music very lifting. Recently, I discovered the music of Peki Emelia Nothembi Mkhwebane from South Africa. She is an award-winning Ndebele musician. Her singing, dancing and dressing embraced a multifaceted picture of the culture of the Ndebele in South Africa. The origins of the Ndebele tribe are not known, although they are generally recognised as forming part of the Nguni tribes of Southern Africa. Nothembi has travelled the world with her beautiful music. It is the right moment for me to share a beautiful thing (her music) with you because I have to return to work tomorrow.
Profile of Peki Emelia “Nothembi” Mkhwebane
Peki Emelia “Nothembi” Mkhwebane was born in Carolina in Mpumalanga on 1 January 1953. Orphaned at the age of five, she was raised by her grandparents who could not afford her formal education. Most of her early life was spent looking after her grandfather’s cattle and sheep – their limited means of livelihood at that time. It was no mean task for a girl.
Mkhwebane’s family loved music and nurtured her first love for Ndebele songs. Her grandmother taught her to play a reed flute, while her sister exposed her to isikumero. Her uncle taught her to play a home-made guitar. In this hub of Ndebele music and culture, Mkhwebane learned a lot about the richness of her culture and later started a musical group called “Izelamani zako Nomazilyana”, which performed at cultural gatherings and weddings.
With time, she bought a keyboard and guitar to compose songs, which she recorded. Despite her burgeoning achievements, she still struggled to find a recording company, particularly as one of the major snags was her illiteracy, which proved to be a hindrance in securing proceeds from the recording breakthroughs.
Never one to despair, and propelled by her passion and talent, Mkhwebane subsequently defeated most of these obstacles to become a world-renowned, prolific singer and performer of Ndebele music. She has travelled extensively abroad, performing in countries such as the United States of America (USA), Austria, Germany, Portugal, Australia and France. In 1988, she performed in New York and London and received an award for the Best Ndebele Song.
(Information courtesy of The Presidency)