Songs are like the Grass: Madosini in Concert – Episode Seven

Madosini Latozi Mpahleni

The fitting recipient of the accolade of the 2020 National Arts Festival Featured Artist is indigenous musician Madosini Latozi Mpahleni, best known as simply Madosini.

A series of 11 episodes (one released on each day of the Festival) offers glimpses of Madosini performing in varied settings – from grand stages to intimate rooms, solo and in conversation with other musicians. This series was made under Covid-19 lockdown, a process made even more complicated by the fact that Madosini herself fell ill and was in hospital for five weeks. This meant that filming her was not possible and, as a result, we have relied on existing and archival footage to create this tribute. There are great variations in the technical quality of the material, but they have been chosen to reflect Madosini’s powers as a musician, stage performer, storyteller, and icon of an extraordinary cultural tradition.

This is another song from childhood, composed by Madosini and friends when young.  It is about the excitement of seeing a car when that sight was very rare in their part of the world. With Madosini on the Mrhubhe, with percussion and voices, it is childlike yet rhythmically very exciting. The episode includes the first-hand story of the first record made of Madosini’s music in 1975.

Access the rest of the 11-episode series here.

Photograph: Almon Mamela and Peter Gwelo outside Madosini’s house in Port St Johns, Transkei, 1974. In the background is one of South Africa’s first mobile recording studios fitted to David Marks’s 1969 teardrop 1300 cc Volkswagen Kombi. Photographer: David Marks. Source: Hidden Years Music Archive, Stellenbosch University.
  • Format: Documentary Film
  • Duration: Various
  • Language: English, isiXhosa
  • Ages: All ages
  • Available From: July 1, 2020


Indigenous musician Madosini Latozi Mpahleni, best known as simply Madosini, is our national treasure. She has kept alive the tradition of Xhosa music rooted in oral tradition, in particular the distinctive sound of the uhadi (music bow), umhrube (mouth bow) and isitolotolo (Jew’s harp). A musician, composer and storyteller, she also makes instruments, has performed and collaborated widely, and continues to teach the body of knowledge she has carried over her lifetime. We are proud to feature her sonic and cultural legacy at this year’s National Arts Festival.