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Black Umfolosi: Q&A with Thomeki Dube

Black Umfolosi at Worthing Theatres and Museum

Black Umfolosi: Q&A with Thomeki Dube

Black Umfolosi is bringing Zimbabwean culture and tradition to the stage in Worthing with a beauty and enthusiasm that is unrivalled.

Their performances are energy driven, infectious, and completely engaging, mixing a great gentleness of spirit and song with an exuberance in dance. Their harmonies mixed with intricate rhythms, clicking and clapping are highlighted during their brilliantly choreographed shows with a full range of movements from subtle to vibrant stomping and leaping! Their famous Gumboot Dances showcase the traditional styles and rituals of the South African mining regions and are a particular crowd pleaser.

“It was the best of all the festival, they have an incredible way to sing, to dance, a beautiful presence on the stage. Their simplicity, naturalness and cheerfulness was for us, at the end of the festival a beautiful present.” Milan Festival

We caught up with Thomeki Dube who heads the group to find out all about their performance.

How are you feeling about the upcoming performance at Worthing?

We are so much looking forward to the performance at Worthing. It is great that we have been invited there. We love the British audiences; they are supportive and appreciative to the good form of Art. Black Umfolosi will not disappoint.

Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this piece.

Our inspiration is derived from our culture and iMbube Music, which is a beautiful form of singing in four-part harmony. It is a crystal clear form of music that one cannot resist. We feel very lucky to come from a rich cultural background, which influences us mightily.

What has the development of this performance looked like?

The development has yielded the most beautiful results; with the ladies, our music is sweeter and more appealing than ever before. Their great talent is visible throughout the show where they lead some solo singing and duet in some instances. The show is spectacular.

What can we expect from the show?

You can expect a real treat: spine-tingling voices interwoven with beautiful movements and in nice African costuming. Also, a miner’s dance called the Gumboot Dance at the very end of the second half of the show. Expect a singalong on one or two of the songs!

What is the aim of Black Umfolosi?

We hope to bring joy to our audience. Our songs range from love to social events, and include environmental songs that touch on climate change and advise people to take extra care on Mother Earth.

How important is it for you to bring your culture and tradition to Worthing?

It is very important for us to share our experiences with Worthing, particularly our journey in music as Zimbabweans. Those that have never been to Zimbabwe will, from this performance, know more about who we are, our heritage, and the geographical look of our country.

What are you most looking forward to?

We are most looking forward to taking the audience on a musical journey with Black Umfolosi through our performance. They will clap hands, laugh, listen, and feel great and refreshed from watching the band perform.

Do you have a favourite part of the performance? Can you tell us what it is?

The show is arranged in such a way that it is enjoyable all the way through. It involves lots of energy. I will say that whoever attends will not regret it, but would want to see Black Umfolosi again. Our new album called Washabalala’ Umhlaba is wonderful, and has done so well in European charts, with two of the songs entering the Top 20 in the Czech Republic. This will be our first trip outside Africa after the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.

What has been your favourite Black Umfolosi performance of all time?

My most favourite performance was in Victoria Canada in 1994, during The Commonwealth Games, where we performed before a crowd of 65,00 people, and followed with a Gala performance for Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Thomkei Dube meeting the Queen

Thomkei Dube meeting the Queen

Worthing Theatres and Museum is a registered charity, and we are committed to providing you with quality art and culture. For information on how you can support us as your local arts charity, such as donating or buying a membership, please click here.

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