Nine women who were passionate about drumming met in a drum circle and eventually formed an all-female band. This group was able to incorporate acting, dancing, singing, drumming, and the use of indigenous African instruments into their acts.
The band which is based on performance art was founded by women to demonstrate the power the female gender possess as a collective, and have performed all over the world displaying that strength with popular African tunes and exceptional performances.
These brave women were raised in Soweto, Alexandra, and East Rand, coming from some of South Africa’s most challenging neighbourhoods. Previously they went by the name Bassadi le Meropa and worked for a company named Drum Cafe before redefining their brand.
An advocate for women
As an all-female band, Abafazi Bengoma performs and plays a variety of instruments — drums, percussions, marimba etc. — in addition to singing. The group of nine have chosen to use their talent to express their African pride and spread awareness for women’s right through music.
“All across the world, women and girls endure a lot to receive necessary education, equal wages, and recognition. We need more advocates and campaigners to make sure that all women have access to necessary resources and are not subjected to prejudice. Women’s talent and accomplishments deserve to be honoured and celebrated,” said the group to TheAfricanDream.net.
The group came together in 2017 with the concept for Abafazi Bengoma after deciding that they could all contribute to the group by sharing their talents and dispelling the local myth that women can’t collaborate. As a result, they went on tours together, produced work together, and made the decision to stick together in order to make impacts in their communities, and influence fellow women, young and old.
Part of their vision is to develop projects that bring women together & groom female youngsters to promote African heritage and a culture of women working together, beyond all stereotypes.
“So far, we have created platforms where women can be involved in transformation and the effects that follow. By telling our stories, we discuss, expose, and negotiate women’s challenges and accomplishments. We believe women of all ages, races, and sizes in Africa and around the world are encouraged to be positive role models and inspire others,” the group said to TheAfricanDream.net.
A world cup performer
Abafazi Bengoma has collaborated and shared the stage with some of the most well-known and renowned musicians in South Africa and other areas of the world. The band played in 2017 at The Ndebele Festival in Mpumalanga honouring guitarist Mam’Nothembi, toured the Netherlands, The One Love concert in Jamaica and The Festival Munial in Holland.
In 2010, they opened the World Cup and performed at 46664 with international award winning artist Shakira. The group also collaborated with the legendary actor Sello Maake KaNcube on a GBV theater performance called The Voice and sold out.
They got to release their Extended Play (EP) record with songs such as Madikizela and Umfazi and shot their first music video for a song called Umfazi. Their songs have been used as caller tunes on Vodafone and MTN networks and can be downloaded from Spotify, Apple Music, deezer, YouTube Music, Line Music, Napster and iTunes Store.
The band has been referred to as “Pearls of Africa” overseas because of how the women represent nine distinctive South African tribes within the band. These women shine and stand out on stage, like stunning pearls or dazzling African ladies celebrating themselves.
- Dikeledi Mathibela
Her love for music began as a child in Alexandra, a township in South Africa. She made her first trip to Madagascar and Reunion Island with Amakhono Wesintu in 1999 that and it was an honour for her to be selected as one of the ten artists to take part in a African European Tour in 2000. During her time on Broadway, she played with a music firm called Drumstruck, which toured Australia, China, and Vietnam.
- Nosipho Mtotoba
As a singer and dancer born in Soweto, South Africa, she grew up with a passion for music. She sang at public gatherings and ceremonies in her community before realizing her talent in 2008 and joining Digaanga Theatre Productions (DTC). One of my most memorable performances was at the Grahamstown Arts Festival, and was chosen to represent South Africa in Malaysia.
- Tiny Modise
Her career as a drummer, dancer, singer and actor has been critically acclaimed, and she hasn’t looked back since falling in love with the performing arts as a teenager. Throughout her training, she was taught by legendary Kwaito artist Arthur Mafokate and Jackie Semela from the Soweto Dance Theatre. The performing arts have been a part of her life for more than a decade.
Her performance in Drumstruck in New York City earned her a Relly Award nomination against actors like John Travolta, Richard Gere and Ashton Kutcher. The Art Alive Competition in Johannesburg awarded me the Best Dancer Award.
- Nompumelelo Felicia Lumka
She was born in Alexandra Township, and she’s an actress, singer-songwriter, dancer, and percussionist with more than a decade of experience in the arts industry. She began performing at a very young age and was groomed by a well-known director named Ntshieng Mokgoro, participating in her shows as a narrator, djembe player and singer.
With groups like Abafazi Bengoma, Soweto spiritual singers, One Square Mile, etc., she has toured the world sharing the culture of South Africa in countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, and Scotland. Her experience includes performing locally, doing community work, visiting and performing in prisons, schools, old age homes, and holding workshops for kids teaching them dance and acting.
Her involvement in the arts industry has given her the opportunity to perform with legends such as Sello Maake kaNcube,Winnie Mashaba, Simphiwe Dana, Lira and Ihashi Elimhlophe, which has helped her grow artistically, boost her self-confidence and enhance her abilities. She currently perform as a soloist, and her work can be seen in exhibitions, festivals, and galleries.
- Nonhlanhla Nomvula Ndhlovu
She has been working in the arts industry for over a decade, specializing in dance, drumming, marimba, and performances at home and abroad. Drum Cafe, Footprint and Drum Struck are a few of the companies she has worked with.
- Dikeledi Modubu
She is a native of Johannesburg raised by her beloved grandmother “Naledi” in Soweto. Growing up, she sang in her grandmother’s church choir and participated in community activities such as dance, drama, and music. She then joined the Ntlo ya Modimo choir and also joined the full Gospel Holly choir. She began her career as a professional singer, actor, and dancer in 2006 with Gibson Kente Productions.
- Livhuwani Mawela
She’s popularly known as Lebo, anf was born in the streets of Katlehong in East Rand on August 29, 1990. She began performing professionally at the age of 19, and her credits so far include Africa Umoja, Ushado, Sarafina, Abafazi Bengoma, among others. As a result of her profession, she has traveled to eight countries and hopes to explore more in the future.
- Nkhensani Kubayi
She’s a professional performer who can dance, sing, and play the marimba. Her career has taken her to Holland, China, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, and Scotland among others. Former President Nelson Mandela, Former President Thabo Mbeki, and Former American President Bill Clinton have witnessed her performances.
- Juliet Moyo
Her skills as an actor, musician, dancer, filmmaker, freelance cinematographer, and performer are diverse. She studied a B.A. in Dramatic Arts at the University of Witwatersrand, majoring in filmmaking, directing, and performance. Over the years, she has worked in many productions, as an actor, stage manager, and stage manager. Sarah Roberts, Mwenya Kwabe, and Kieran Reid have also been part of her work experience.
“We have dreams of going bigger, promoting Africa to the world in a different light and having women keep in mind that they can be anything they want to be if they are brave enough to make the move,” the group said to TheAfricanDream.net.