Mayo hosts sounds of South Africa

Mahloele plays a handmade instrument to share his South African heritage with students. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
Mahloele plays a handmade instrument to share his South African heritage with students. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

By Liz Christine Santos
Correspondent

Singer, sculptor, and painter Mogauwane Mahloele performed with his own handmade African instruments Thursday Oct. 22 in the Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall.

Students gathered outside the hall, anxious to hear a type of music a majority of them hadn’t heard before.

“The performances at the College vary. There are usually performances like this. I come to hear the music,” said senior music major Thomas Hanslowe.

The instruments varied in shape and size, and delivered diverse and enticing sound to the audience.

“In my country, music is the central part of us. We live through a song,” said Mahloele, who grew up in South Africa.

Mahloele mentioned a mute friend of his that would enthusiastically hit his fist to his chest when he heard a song he enjoyed. He also discussed the source of much of his music.

“I was very lucky because my mother was a professional dancer and traditional singer and community leader. So whatever went on in Africa my mother knew,” Mahloele said.

Mahloele was born in Storomo and raised in Mamelodi ya Tshwane, South Africa. In 1975, Mahloele left his country and family. If he stayed, he said, he would’ve spent his life in jail like his friends, and because of his decision to leave, he has been in exile for 33 years.

After discussing the apartheid with the audience and its strong existence in Africa, Mahloele resumed entertainment.

“Anyway let me not bore you with my tales … maybe I should play music,” he said.

Mahloele interacted with the audience members, requesting they sing with him.

The other songs played were chants about trouble in his homeland and his family.

“My ancestors don’t die,” Mahloele said. He put his arms in the air and said he does this before every show and asks his ancestors to join him. Mahloele added he was talking to his mother backstage.

Mahloele also discussed his childhood in Africa.

“I used to be a shepherd. It was such a beautiful adventure, we used to go to the river, swim and chop some bamboo and make instruments,” he said.

One of the instruments Mahloele played was a mouth harp called a stolotolo. “We used to make it out of bamboo. Bamboo sounds much better than this,” he said, referring to the metal version of the instrument.