Bawo Khusela

Music / Cathedral

‘Bawo Khusela’ is a musical performance of uplifting songs from Msaki’s catalogue, arranged for and accompanied by a 23 piece choir, uHadi ensemble and traditional String Quartet in the Cathedral, as part of Spiritfest. Msaki will be working in collaboration with choir conductor and co-arranger Kutlwano Kepadisa and the Cathedral Choir.

This performance is part of Msaki’s multidisciplinary presentation at the Festival in which she explores personal and collective healing through sound. Using the song as a time stamp and time-travelling device, Msaki activates and interrogates her own history to deal with experiences of violence, trauma and pain in Makhanda that mark her body and being – in dialogue with the history of the town itself.

Through these sonic works, Msaki considers how sound moves us in ways that disrupt linear time, and the power of nostalgia and other affective registers within it when used as a healing methodology. Within many healing techniques and technologies, revisiting the past is a critical mechanism to locate and deal with trauma in the present.

Note – For this year’s Festival 2023 programme, Msaki 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, she presents two shows on Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July.


Msaki will be performing with the Cathedral Choir conducted by Kutlwano Kepadisa

Zanethemba Mdyokolo
Tshepo Tsotetsi
Sky Dladla
Themba Mashobane
Nhlanhla Xipu
Kwantu Chior and Cathedral Imvumi


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.

  • Venue: Cathedral
  • City: Makhanda
  • Location: Cnr High St and Hill St, Grahamstown, Makhanda, 6139
  • Ticket Price: R50.00
  • Programme Type: CURATED PROGRAMME
  • Genre: Music
  • Duration: 60 mins
June 28, 2023   19:00 - 20:00