Zimbabwean vocal and dance ensemble Black Umfolosi is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new retrospective compilation titled “Summertime – Best of Black Umfolosi.”
Black Umfolosi was formed in 1982 by students at George Silundika Primary School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. From there the group has gone on to international success, releasing eight albums and performing at packed venues throughout the world. Their dynamic live shows showcase the traditional dancing styles of Southern Africa, as well as more contemporary styles and self-developed routines.
The group has represented Zimbabwe as her ‘cultural ambassadors’ at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada and World Expo in Sevilla, Spain.
‘Summertime – The Best of Black Umfolosi’ presents twelve songs handpicked by the band members themselves from their eight albums. This celebration of the last three decades is just one of the ways in which the group is marking this milestone anniversary. While the band usually performs internationally as the ‘Black Umfolosi 5’, during the summer and autumn of 2012 the full eight-piece band will assemble for international touring.
Black Umfolosi consider their work to be not just entertainment or a route to renown, but as a means of reviving Zimbabwean – particularly Ndebele – culture and introducing it abroad. “One of our aims is to preserve our traditions and culture,” says founding member Thomeki Dube. “In the modern world people can lose their sense of identity, lose their roots. We believe that by teaching children about our culture, we can help everyone to realize the importance of their own culture, wherever they are from.”
Black Umfolosi describe their songs as a “vocal newspaper”, and take their music to parts of Africa where there are no radios or televisions, acting as the media to promote healthy living and education. They are active in training others, particularly the youth, in dance and voice. They try to identify and develop up and-coming groups and mentor them along their path to success.
They provide workshops and residences in dance, voice, theater, costume design, poetry, mime and also address various issues affecting society today.
The band is currently preparing to enter the studio to record their next album.