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Zimbabwe a capella group Nobuntu performs at Saint Mary’s

| Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The music of a culture helps to connect and bind its members together. In Nobuntu, an a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe, the five female members sing, dance and play simple acoustic instruments in order to share their music with the world.  

Nobuntu came to visit Saint Mary’s on Tuesday in O’Laughlin Auditorium as one of the first stops of many on their United States tour. According to the group’s website, they will travel through the country, performing at colleges and other venues until finally ending at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It is their first time touring in the United States.  

“It is a unique opportunity for the people of our community to experience the culture of Zimbabwe through women’s voices,” Richard Baxter, director of campus and community events at Saint Mary’s, said. “They have a pure, unfiltered sound that doesn’t need any amplification. It is a remarkable group with great prestige.”

The Saint Mary’s Cultural Affairs Committee began planning Nobuntu’s performance in the fall of 2017 and has been working since then to bring them to the College. Nobuntu was first on Baxter’s radar because he and Nobuntu’s agent, Marc Baylin, frequently work together. This relationship allows Saint Mary’s to host various diverse groups and gives students the opportunity to learn more about different cultures and folklore.

“He keeps us in mind if anything interesting comes up,” Baxter said.

Baylin Artists Management, Nobuntu’s agency, promotes the group along with several other international artists. According to the agency’s website, Nobuntu was nominated for the Best Musician of the Year at the Zimbabwe International Women Awards in London in 2015.

Duduzile Sibanda, a member of the group, said Nobuntu was formed in 2011 after all the members auditioned with Baylin Artists Management and were placed together. They started by performing at small festivals and concerts throughout Zimbabwe. Since then, they have released two recordings, EKHAYA in 2016 and THINA in 2013. They performed in concert halls throughout Europe and went on tour in Canada during 2016. The women do a variety of genres, including traditional Zimbabwean songs, Afro Jazz and Gospel.

“We hope to use our music in order to advocate for mutual respect, peace, love and an end to abuse around the world,” Sibanda said. “My favorite is the traditional music. We have a lot to share through it and it helps us really work for unity and friendship.”

The five members grew up in the same city and have known each other since high school. Sibanda said they’ve grown closer by traveling and performing together, and their music has helped the entire group flourish.

“We have all changed since joining this group and through the songs we sing,” she said. “We matured, discovered more about ourselves and where we come from. It’s a humbling experience that also allows us to learn about the traditions of our culture and how they impact us today.”

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