ETSU’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts has always made it a point to celebrate and embrace different cultures through hosting and sponsoring various events that put a spotlight on the culture, arts and music from different regions of the world. This week, the School of the Arts helped Johnson City welcome Nobuntu, a Zimbabwean acapella group.
“This is only their second time in the U.S. They have been pretty much booked solid on all their tours, so we were fortunate enough to have them in Johnson City,” said Anita DeAngelis, director of the School of the Arts.
The event, which took place Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Central Baptist Church, was much more than a musical performance. Their dancing and a keen interest in interaction with the audience gave the feel of essentially being transported to Zimbabwe and made for an a truly memorable and entertaining evening, despite most of their performance being in a foreign language. They performed songs from their new album, Obabes beMbube, which echoed their values of promoting love, peace and being a champion for women.
“As ‘Nobuntu,’ we sing songs of inspiration. We sing a lot of traditional songs and are proud to hold our own in a field that is so male-dominated,” said Nobuntu member, Duduzile Sibanda, referring to traditional Zimbabwean mining songs, which were tailored to and typically sang by men. “We also perform gospel, afro-jazz and even reggae. We have songs for everyone, from little children to elders, because we value community.”
The performance was also very informative as patrons were not only able to learn about where the group members came from and various aspects of Zimbabwean culture and African culture as a whole, but the performance also prompted the audience to explore avenues for change in their community that would transcend any boundaries regarding gender, religion, race or economic status.