The Sunday News
Sunday Life Reporter
Songs of the great Ndebele Queen, Lozikeyi of Lobengula, have emerged from the recording studio and are ready to be released to the world.
A royal collaboration of 11 acclaimed artistes of Bulawayo, the studio production Songs of Queen Lozikeyi follows a scintillating performance and rave reviews of the initial collaboration staged at Bulawayo Arts Festival in June 2021.
Songs of Queen Lozikeyi portrays a vivid image of the queen’s power, energy and leadership, a six-track album of high-energy foot-tappers and haunting ballads, interspersed with poetry by two young poets in the style of traditional praise poetry for African Kings in the Ndebele culture. Lead singers and songwriters are Thandy Dhlana and Nomathamsanqa “Nkwali” Mkwananzi, along with poets Sithandazile Dube, and Thandokuhle Sibanda, musicians Prince Joel Nyoni (Keyb), Obey Mudiwa (drums), Paul Maseko (bass), Mthabisi Moyo (guitar), Gomez Dube (percussion), Vuyile Qongo (saxophone), and Laura Ngwenya on backing vocals.
The recording was under the hand of engineer Erastus Nleya of Loud Records and Prince Joel Nyoni. Featured in the six track recording is the song Halala Lozikeyi by Nkwali which was commissioned by the Queen Lozikeyi Trust, set up by her descendants to preserve her legacy. The song salutes the queen with evocative lyrics, a fitting tribute. Also written and performed by Nkwali are Mbungazeni and Sizopika, a folk song with poetry by Sithandazile Dube; and from Thandy Dhlana come Story with poetry by Thando Sibanda; Asambeni, co-arranged by Nkwali, and Queen Lozikeyi where Thandy is accompanied by both poets.
Featured poetry works are Amandla and Call Me By My Name by Thando Sibanda, and Sibongile Ndlovukazi, Indlovukazi and KoBulawayo by Sithandazile Dube. Musician Prince Joel Nyoni, who is a member of the award-winning group Ngoma Ingoma and music director and arranger for the Queen Lozikeyi project said, “I am very happy about this project because it’s something that we’ve been waiting for.
We have celebrated so many people’s histories — we know about Snow White, Julius Caesar and Mbuya Nehanda, but I feel like we didn’t know a lot about who Lobengula’s wife was, and what better way to bring her out than through music? I think the idea of sharing this knowledge through music is great, so that besides people seeing it, it can be archived for future generations. Not only for Bulawayo but for Zimbabwe overall, as she was also instrumental in the Ndebele resistance to colonialism.
“I’m very happy to be part of the project and the fact that I was working with an amazing team of musicians and great singers. Also thanks to Nhimbe Trust, Josh Nyapimbi and Saimon Mambazo Phiri for the opportunity, and for actually coming up with the idea where we can finally document Lozikeyi as the queen that she was and reveal to people her influence in the struggle for justice in colonial times. Both the lyrical content and musical effect are just beautiful; and the story is not finished, we still want to make it bigger, add more music. There are so many stories to tell — of women’s empowerment, encouragement, exhortation and celebration.”
Nyoni said the music developed as rooted in traditional Ndebele folk style with strong vocals and drums, but also modernised with western instrument effects. Where Nkwali’s music keeps close to the traditional styles, Thandy breaks into afrojazz.
The track Mbungazeni is infused with the maskandi style which is celebrated in the Southern Africa region. Sizopika fuses the past and the present, with different Ndebele and other traditional music styles, and the music also employs elements of east and west African flavours. Local and international tour arrangements are underway. The sons will be streaming online at the end of September, and available on CD/USB from the Nhimbe Trust office in Bulawayo.
To sample album go to: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/bulawayoartists/songz-of-queen-lozikeyi