Anita Khaile - August 19, 2020

Music producer and Dunoon resident Thabo Magaqana is the founder of Amaqobo kazana Traditional Dancers to teach children the traditional dances to Zulu Masikhandi folk music. Amaqobo kazana was established in 2013 with less than six children, and has evolved to become a large group which participates in local music arts festivals at Guga S’Thebe cultural centre in Langa. “I formed the group with the aim of taking young children off the street and not wanting them to ruin their future by getting involved with drugs and gangsters,” says Magaqana.

“All I wanted was for them to do something productive with their free time.” But he said due to lack of equipment to record songs made by the group, the young members dump the group when they get older. He says he has now found his way to a studio where he is recording all the songs composed by the group so they can be used in future. Although based on Zulu Masikhandi, he says the dance group members are a mix of cultures, including Sotho and Xhosa speakers, as well as members from Mozambique. The music the group dances to is not only written by Magaqana. The children also get the opportunity to write and submit their songs, then Magaqana fixes the song where needed and adds rhythm to make it enjoyable for anyone listening to the song’s message.

“I also teach the children how to write their own songs and I also tell them song writing comes in different forms. Some people wake up and start writing, other people dream the song than they start writing.” Qhawexolo Nzuzo, who joined the group at a very young age, has released two of her songs under the group album. The group has released a song called Konakele Nomkhumezelo vala umnyango which talks about the abuse of women and children. The song was written as a plea to men to stop gender-based violence.

Although the dance group has not been able to meet and practice during lockdown, they continue to write songs at home, and Magaqana says a song about the coronavirus will be released soon. Amaqobo Kazana Traditional Dancers accept children from the age of ten and there is no fee to join. Magaqana says anyone who is willing and wanting to learn the traditional dance moves can join.

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