For Msaki, Makhanda is a site of many personal traumas and small violences – as well as a historical site of trauma for black people. First entering the town as a child, and returning as a teenager and then a university student, the ruptures, difficult memories, and experiences have found their way into her music, and the songs she ‘catches’. Placing her personal story in conversation with the macro reality of violence that exists on multiple levels, in a town where Settler’s Monument stands over Rhodes University and further monuments to war heroes in town are placed in a perfect line with the Cathedral leading up to Makhana’s kop, Msaki will explore the interface between her personal story and Makhanda’s greater frontier history of violence.
With this deeply personal work, she intends to create a sonic portal for healing work that enables others to act as witness and move towards doing the same. Across the full Festival period and in different formats, she works through her existing musical catalogue as well as debuting new compositions, to activate an atmosphere of healing. In doing this work, she creates a dialogue between the past, present and future, she is planting a seed to enter a new season.
Within the Del’ukufa exhibition are devices dealing with ruptures, memory, and site, including video installations of a series of Ndiyozilanda which Msaki will do while in Makhanda.
Ndiyozilanda are a series of site-specific healing rituals. Msaki uses Ndiyozilanda to fetch versions of her younger self from various sites of trauma and separation around Makhanda, accompanied by the healer and guide well-versed in these indigenous technologies, Makhosi KHYNSA. Armed with an arsenal of songs caught in the past and with an openness to catch new ones as a balm for the present.
The gallery becomes a ritual space where Msaki embarks on her journey in the first weekend of Festival, and where the journey comes full circle in the last weekend of Festival.
Note – entry to Msaki’s Del’ukufa Exhibition in Atherstone Gallery is free. There are two scheduled and ticketed Ndiyozilanda in Atherstone Gallery, and several other private Ndiyozilanda in and around Makhanda.
MSAKI AT NAF 2023:
This year Msaki returns to a town with which she has much personal history. For the Festival 2023 programme, she presents a series of works across disciplines:
- Visit Atherstone Gallery for her exhibition Del’ukufa open throughout the Festival
- She performs Ndiyozilanda to an intimate audience on Saturday 24 June and 2 July;
- In the Cathedral, as part of Spirit Fest, she presents the musical performance Bawo Khusela including a 23 piece choir, uHadi ensemble and a String Quartet.
- Embo Time Travel Experiment, at the Guy Butler Auditorium is her largest musical performance at the Festival which also encompasses aspects of the work she presents across the Festival.
22 June – 02 July
09h00 – 17h00
She took South Africa by storm in 2019 when she featured on Prince Kaybee’s smash hit “Fetch Your Life” – a song that would prove inspirational and sustaining to many people during the difficult years that followed (the music video for “Fetch Your Life” has racked up 10 million views on YouTube). In the same year, Msaki teamed up with DJ Black Coffee on “Wish You Were Here”, one of the tracks on the Grammy-winning album Subconsciously. Recently, she pursued a very different kind of partnership with 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance, Kristi-Leigh Gresse, who immersed herself in Msaki’s music to spur her own choreographic work.
Collaborations aside, Msaki has a long history with the National Arts Festival. From a young age, Msaki participated in the Children’s Festival at NAF and brought productions to the Fringe as soon as her independent career began. She participated in the Dakawa Jazz Stage as Msaki & The Golden Circle and was awarded two Gold Standard Bank Ovation Awards. She has also curated multidisciplinary events, performances, and workshops at the Black Power Station.
Msaki’s musical repertoire also shows her to be a bold independent artist and solo musician. She released her first EP, Nal’ithemba, in 2013; this was followed by the LP Zaneliza: How The Water Moves in 2016, which included the chart-climbing single “Iimfama Ziyabona”. Her new album Platinum Heart: Open and the companion offering Platinum Heart: Beating combine folk, jazz, electronic and traditional African sounds. Her Platinum Heart collaborators include musical pioneer Neo Muyanga, with whom she wrote and produced “Blood Guns and revolutions” – a song about the Marikana massacre – and digital animation artist Thabang Lehobye, who created the powerful visuals for the music video.
Msaki’s vocals can have a soaring, anthemic quality; they can also strike a quiet, soulful mood. She identifies her music as straddling opposing approaches to personal and political aspects of the human condition:
‘I live in these two dichotomies – the acoustic and the electronic, the protest and the love. I always go back to the heart. A lot of it is about the small decisions of the heart that lead to the big issues. You ask those questions and somehow hope that in the asking, and in the petitioning and alongside the protesting, we keep hoping for justice.’