Songbird Nhlanhla Dube’s ode to Busi Mhlongo

There is a Zulu proverb that goes, “Indlela ibuzwa kwaba phambili“, meaning “direction is asked from those who’ve walked the path.” This is the attitude of Tembisa’s songbird Nhlanhla Dube as she navigates the music business. From 29 March to 02 April 2023, the Naledi Award winner will be honoring her idol and one of South Africa’s musical treasures Mam Busi Mhlongo with a tribute music concert titled Isikhumbuzo- A Tribute to Busi Mhlongo.

Directed by renowned Meshack Mavuso Magabane, the production recognizes Mhlongo for her political influence, storytelling, feminism, and for fighting racism and tribalism, and ‘giving us home using her music.’ The show will pay homage to the legacies of the late African musician  and celebrate her music contribution. Busisiwe Victoria Mhlongo (1947-2010)  affectionately known as ‘Mam’Busi,’ was an extremely talented and innovatively versatile Urban Zulu and was one of the most emotive singers the country has ever produced. Renowned for her spirited performances and infectious music that carried powerful social commentary, she contributed immensely in putting the nation’s music on the international stage.

Shot by Thobeka Shoba

Following on the footsteps of her role model, whose music defies categorisation, Dube is dynamically unboxed with a creative spirit that allows her to interchange genres. Audiences are set to be spoiled with sounds of Maskandi, Mbhaqanga, Afro-pop and Afro-soul. Along with tribute songs, the muso will perform her rich catalogue which features hit single Amaphuphu that has galvanised four million plus streams and airplay in premier radio stations including Metro FM, Ukhozi FM and Radio 2000.

Dube comments: “Mam Busi Mhlongo inspired the type of sound that I do in my music and I have learned a lot about the spiritual musical journey through following her footsteps and that was her speciality. She was always embracing the spirit of ubuntu, and fighting racism, tribalism, apartheid through music and always diluting different sounds to educate the world about our cultures and values.”

As she prepares for the five day show, Dube is in the capable hands of songstress Simphiwe Dana. This is a mentorship process coming with the SAST’s Incubator Programme, in which Dube is being profiled under the 2022/23 instalment. Funded by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, the programme is designed to accelerate the successful transition of semi- professional entrepreneurial artists through an array of business, technical and artistic mentorship.

“I have always been a fan of Simphiwe Dana and the mentorship has been amazing in such a manner that when I went to see her show (Moya) I had a chance to meet her team that is humble , grounded, professional and hardworking. They are a family more than colleagues and she has shown me how she is still relevant and leading in her craft. She’s such an amazing woman,” adds Dube.

Besides being a skilled musician, Dube is also an award-winning actress and aspiring director. Her role in Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound earned her a Naledi Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2022. She also appears in Jazz maestro Nduduzo Mkhathini’s album titled, Spirit Of Ubuntu.

Tickets for Isikhumbuzo- A Tribute to Busi Mhlongo can be purchased at Webtickets outlets including the theatre’s box office, Pick n Pay stores and online right .

Shot by Nqaba Hadebe