Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South African Music Rights Organisation: 'An Interview With Mzilikazi Khumalo'

[J. S. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932)]

AfriClassical received the following communication on Nov. 13, 2009:
"We at the South African Society of Music are happy for AfriClassical to use portions of the interview in question with a link to the SAMRO website where the full interview appears. However, we would like to suggest that your proposed wording be amended as follows:
This interview was published in the academic journal SAMUS: South African Music Studies, Volume 28 (2008), pages 155-168. Copyright over this material is held by the South African Society for Research in Music, and it may not be reproduced without permission. The Society has granted SAMRO permission to put it on their website as a static document, with the proviso that the interview's origins in the journal SAMUS are acknowledged.
Sincerely, Zelda Potgieter, Chairperson: SASRIM"

Ndwamato George Mugovhani
Mzilikazi James Khumalo, Emeritus Professor in African Languages at the University of the Witwatersrand, folksong arranger, choral composer, and choir director, was born on the Salvation Army farm KwaNgwelu, in the Vryheid District of Natal, in 1932. He was the third son of Senior Major A.M. Khumalo, a priest in the Salvation Army and Mrs Ntombizodwa Johanna Khumalo. Throughout his scholastic career he sang in school choirs and thereby learned to read tonic solfa notation. He also learned staff notation through playing the euphonium in the Salvation Army band. Professor Khumalo qualified as a teacher in 1954, and thereafter studied music part-time under the organist Charles Norburn. Besides literary publications, he is a prolific composer whose works include a cantata, and an opera in the African idiom. He retired from Wits in 1998 and is Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors at SAMRO. This interview took place at SAMRO House, Johannesburg.

GM: Welcome Prof, I appreciate it that you honoured this invitation to be interviewed.

MK: Thank you, George. You are most welcome.

GM: Would I be correct to believe that you are more recognised as a musician than an African languages scholar?

MK: Yes. Actually, I think the Good Lord wanted me to be a musician. I became an academic because I had to live. During my time I couldn’t live on music. But I thank God that I was able to be a teacher, and after that I was able to go to university and be a language assistant, then senior language assistant. Then when the doors opened up for blacks I became a lecturer, and then progressed from being a senior lecturer, to assistant professor, professor, and then head of the department of African Languages. This is growth, and you can’t moan about that. I think that is what the Good Lord wanted me to do and that is how I feel, because when I do music I feel so good. Do you know what some people call me? They call me ‘Professor of Music’. I have so far received four honorary doctorates in music around the country: University of South Africa, University of Zululand, Fort HareUniversity, and Stellenbosch University. The latter awarded me the degree ‘for promoting African Music extensively and to great acclaim, and creating an awareness of the African idiom not only nationally but also internationally’. So they wrote.

GM: What influenced your interest in music?

MK: My parents, particularly my mother. My mother was the major influence in my appreciation of traditional music during my early stage. She was a traditional Zulu music fanatic. Most of the tales she used to relate to us in the evenings contained folksongs,which she would sing to us. She also sang many other traditional Zulu songs for me, some of which I still fondly remember. My mother, like Princess Magogo, who I am going to talk about later, had a beautiful voice and knew a lot of indigenous Zulu Music. Hence I dedicated one of my songs, Izibongo zikaShaka (The Praise Songs of King Shaka), to her. [J.S. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932) is profiled at]

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