The Portfolio: Sibusile Xaba

A symphony. That’s what people have been calling it. I’m not sure what that says about the songs or their form, but I hear things as messages and I am just a vessel that relays them. It’s tricky to shift from that point of departure into speaking about putting the music into form. And when we speak of form, what is it anyway?

An example of form is life itself, which is multi-layered, encompassing the physical terrain, the spirit world, the universe as a whole. These are the worlds that one is interacting with when one talks of the privilege of receiving codes and translating them into music.

When you speak of Ngiwu Shwabada, it’s more or less the same ideology of The Open Letter — something that someone hears in their dreams. To build my ability to convey, I kept on living this life [of being a vessel] and trying to submit to it so that the messages would become clearer and I could get a deeper understanding of what they were.

I found myself being able to receive things in broad daylight. I’d take what I hear and put it into song. Music is one of the last remaining tangible things that we can use to share the codes and messages of ancient human kind — messages about where we originate from.

We come from where the song wasn’t from the artist. We all sang. The idea that this is my composition, or that it is open in form, or that it is a symphony — those are all things that have to be looked at more intently. The music itself takes its direction. Its purpose is not to bop or be intellectual or to be hitting those triplets. The questions of: Is it African? Is it this or is it that? don’t matter. It’s an aeroplane that takes you to that place where there is healing and peace. And freedom lies within peace.

Music, the purpose of it, the construction process or the form, is open because it comes from infinity. The question is, how do you open yourself up to that? It’s not a big hooo hah ukuthi ukhuluma nezihlahla. You drink a lot of water, you change your diet. You walk barefoot — the children understand that dad is not crazy, he is listening to what is being said and relaying it through his guitar. It’s not mysticism, it is a way to life. It’s how we were and how we are supposed to be. If you want to look at it closer, it’s a way of opening up to life so life opens up for you. That’s what leads to a song.

Ngiwu Shwabada is available on digital music platforms

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

South African football has lost a feminist in Anele Ngcongca

The Bafana Bafana defender valued women who loved sport

Zondo tightens his grip with criminal complaint against Zuma

The state capture commission’s star witness now faces a criminal complaint and another summons

Business schools need to mimic new reality

With most corporates effectively having their staff work remotely, educators will need to match and exceed this if they are to do more than just survive

Virtual world left out of policy on universities’ international collaboration

The pandemic has underlined the need for effective research, teaching and learning through virtual platforms regardless of travel restrictions

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

See people as individual humans, not as a race

We need to ingrain values of equality in education, businesses, society broadly and religious groups to see people

JJ Rawlings left an indelible mark on Ghana’s history

The air force pilot and former president used extreme measures, including a coup, enforced ‘discipline’ through executions, ‘disappearances’ and floggings, but reintroduced democracy

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…