Sankofa: Afro-Indigenous Fusion Music Ensemble - ARTISTIC PROFILE
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Sankofa: Afro-Indigenous Fusion Music Ensemble - ARTISTIC PROFILE

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The name “Sankofa” is an Akan (Ghanaian vernacular) word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today”. The......

The name “Sankofa” is an Akan (Ghanaian vernacular) word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today”. The band opted to use the name because it believes that one must return to the past in order to move forward. Musical knowledge of the past must be revisited in order to inform the future of musical ideas.

The band was started in 2005, by a dedicated and experienced team of Wits University students, who enrolled at the Wits School of Arts (WSOA). This led to Sankofa becoming the band that it has evolved into today, with a membership comprising of seven professional musicians, pursuing musical development continuously.

The band is a four piece African Marimbas band, comprising also of African flutes (self-made), the West African Kora Harp, the Madagascan Vahlia string instrument, mbiras, Jaw Harp, Uhadi and other percussive instruments-agogo, cow bells, rattles, rain stick, djembe’s, congas, bongos. Sankofa’s vision regarding it’s use of indigenous instruments is to be a dynamic, vibrant vehicle for the cataloguing, storing, playing, advancing and evolution of the usage and cross-cultural application of skillful expertise with indigenous instruments, specifically of Africa as a whole, and in a grander perspective, those indigenous instruments of the rest of the world.

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  • 1. SANKOFA Afro-Indigenous Fusion Ensemble http://sankofa.co.za
  • 2. Contents
    • Introduction/History 3
    • Vision, Mission & Objectives 4
    • Range of Musical Instruments 5-6
    • Previous Acclaimed Performances 7-8
    • Workshops 9
    • The Band Members 10-12
    • Discography & Videography 13
    • Contact Details 14
  • 3. Introduction: The History
    • The name S ankofa is an Akan (Ghanaian vernacular) word that means, "We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today. The band opted to use the name because it believes that one must return to the past in order to move forward. Musical knowledge of the past must be revisited in order to inform the future of musical ideas.
    • The band was started in 2005, by a dedicated and experienced team of Wits University students, who enrolled at the Wits School of Arts (WSOA). This led to Sankofa becoming the band that it has evolved into today, with a membership comprising of seven professional musicians, pursuing musical development continuously.
    • In the initial stages of developing and building the band, along with the above mentioned music students at the University, Sankofa’s then membership also enlisted an aspiring marimba professional in his youth. The young man was introduced to the band and he instantly loved the band concept; the band was reaching it’s completion in terms of the visionaries it would take to establish the high caliber of artistic vision & skillful execution in performing ability required for the Sankofa project to excel.
    • At first, performances were only on Wits University Campus (to great acclaim), gradually as the band’s notoriety for high entertainment value grew, they performed for the Wits School of Arts, and soon were in demand within the greater neighboring Johannesburg CBD area. Today the band performs in a wide scope of functions ranging from their own concerts, big corporate functions and weddings, celebratory occasions of diverse fashions and national festivals.
    • The band is a four piece African Marimbas band, comprising also of African flutes (self-made), the West African Kora Harp, the Madagascan Vahlia string instrument, mbiras, Jaw Harp, Uhadi and other percussive instruments-agogo, cow bells, rattles, rain stick, djembe’s, congas, bongos. Sankofa’s vision regarding it’s use of indigenous instruments is to be a dynamic, vibrant vehicle for the cataloguing, storing, playing, advancing and evolution of the usage and cross-cultural application of skillful expertise with indigenous instruments, specifically of Africa as a whole, and in a grander perspective, those indigenous instruments of the rest of the world.
  • 4. Vision
    • To be an excellent entertainment company that will promote and perform indigenous African musical instruments within the creative industry in South Africa and abroad.
    Our mission
    • To increase the level of artistic growth
    • To promote and nurture the knowledge of ancient African music through music workshops in high schools in
    • Johannesburg.
    • To restore the heritage of indigenous African music and its instruments so as to produce informed musicians
    Objectives
    • To carve new musical directions in which African musical instruments can be fused with modern musical instruments (i.e. guitars, violins, etc) to form an eclectic sound.
    • To restore the traditional heritage of the past.
    • Eventually establishing ourselves internationally and sharing our music with the rest of the world, both young and old.
    • To infuse a mixture of other art forms such as dancing, poetry, acting and singing with our music.
  • 5. Range of Musical Instruments African Flutes Kora Uhadi Bows
  • 6. Marimba Percussion Mbira Kudu Horn
  • 7. Previous Acclaimed Performances
    • Wits University: Judge Edwin Cameron’s Farewell Dinner Wits University Open Day Functions
    • Shared stage with Ringo Madlingozi at the Gallagaher Estate for Media Awards Ceremony
    • Apartheid Museum : Human Rights/Gay Rights Function
    • Recorded with Pops Mohamed for German Audio Library
    • Another Collaboration with Sydney Mavuso & Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph as part of the Celebration Orchestra in a concert celebrating the State of Israel’s 60 th Anniversary in Wits Great Hall
    2008 2009
    • Danone Food Garden Media Launch with CH Communications – Paul Mosaka Primary,
    • Soweto
    • Johannesburg Earthdance Arts Festival
    • Brent Russell’s Wedding at Mangwa Valley Game Lodge
    • Launch of website RizeAfrica.com in Monte Casino
    • Collaborating on Sankofa’s first studio album with Bheki Khoza & Tim Kraft at the Academy
    • of Sound Engineering
    • Residency at House of Nsako live music venue/ Restaurant, co-owned by Neo
    • Muyanga & Sifiso Ntuli
  • 8. 2007
    • Gallagher Estate : Local Government Award Ceremony
    • SABC 2 Morning Live Programme
    • Stellenbosch University’s International Chamber Music Festival
    • Grahamstown National Arts festival doing our production- Echoes of Remembrance
    • Showcased Echoes of Remembrance in the 969 festival at Wits Amphitheatre
    • Jewish Weddings at The Sandton Shul
    • Wits University: Origins Centre for Absa Women’s Evening Celebration
    • Wits University: Launch of the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering
    • Weddings at Maropeng
    • Collaborated with Marcus Wyatt, Sydney Mavuso & Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph as part of the Celebration Orchestra in a production entitled Voices for Africa in Wits Great Hall
    2006
    • Stellenbosch University’s International Chamber Music Festival
    • SABC Headquarters : launch of the Vukuzenzele Radio Programme
    • Hilton Hotel : The South African-Italian Awards Ceremony
    • Jewish Weddings at The Sandton Shul
    • Weddings at the Cradle of Mankind
    • Market Theatre - international musical production ‘ Elephant ’
    • Winners of the Open Category Section in the very first National Marimba Competition
    • in Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa .
  • 9. Workshops
    • Joburg Carnival Kids Music Project initiated by the Dept. of Sports & Recreation in collaboration with Sankofa (SMDA) & Curriculum Development Program Centre of Arts & Culture (CDP)
    • Initiated Marimba & African Percussion Workshops project in primary & secondary schools under our NGO Sankofa Music Development Association (SMDA)
    2009 2007
    • Sankofa conducted African music composition, improvisation & playing techniques workshops
    • at Stellenbosch University’s International Chamber Music Festival
    • Worked with Pedro ‘The Music Man’ Espi-Sanchis on Vuvuzela Orchestra (ongoing project)
    2006
    • Sankofa conducted African music composition, improvisation & playing techniques workshops
    • at Stellenbosch University’s International Chamber Music Festival
  • 10. The Band Members Samora 'Eitaniel' Ntsebeza: Director Instruments : Percussionist, Voice & Marimba Samora was born in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa. He has completed a BMus 4 year degree at Witwatersrand University in 2006. In 1999 Samora was selected to star in the musical "FAME" which was staged at the Monument Theatre in Grahamstown, at age 15. In 2001 he was a member of the "Duke of Cornwall singers" singing ensemble of St. Stithians Boys College which toured to Argentina in 2002. He toured Argentina again in 2003, this time singing with the Wits University Choir under the training of Dalene Hoogenout. At St. Stithians Boy’s College, he won the 'Saints singer of the Year' competition. From a young age, ancient traditions, arts, cultures, and the mystical nature of ancient cultures has intriguted Samora. As a musician, this has manifested in him acquiring and learning Japanese, Chinese, South American and African indigenous instruments, flutes, drums and compositional forms. Moipone Elizabeth Khomari: Road Manager and Logistics Officer Instruments: Voice & Marimba. She was born in Pretoria, South Africa and she has a Bmus Dtegree from Wits University. She aspires to be one of the best soprano singers ever born and bred in South Africa. She plans to take on the world. She plans to be part of the Marimba band for a long time to come and see it through when it flourishes. She wants to see the band’s full potential manifest and grow with it – whilst incorporating singing simultaneously.
  • 11. David Lephoto: Financial Officer Instruments: Voice, Mbira, Piano & Marimba David has completed a Bmus Degree at Wits University. He was a digital music technology tutor for two years at Wits University. He has worked in the State Theatre on “I Mike What I Like” with Kgafela Oa Magogodi and an animated play by Wits masters animation students. He enjoys tackling life’s challenges, obstacles because they help him to conceptualize his future better. Joe Ntsako Makhanza: Head of Marketing Instruments: Percussionist, Voice, Mbira, Flute & Marimba. Joe was born in Giyani, South Africa. He has a BMus Degree from Wits University, a Diploma in Arts Marketing also from Wits and a Certificate in Advertising and Graphic Design from Damelin. Joe has been blessed with a vast knowledge of designing making Indigenous Instrument. He feels that his purpose is to heal people through music. Music for him is not just about entertainment, it is also about life itself. It’s all of life! He sleeps, walks, talks and eats music. Olaotse Lekau Mmileng: Artistic Director Instruments: Percussionist & Marimba. Olautse was born in Mafikeng. He started playing marimba at school in Mmabatho under the influence of Mr. Cushman. He is a marimba player by profession and has always had a huge interest in ethnic music and instrument like African drums although his passion lies within the marimba. He has been involved in the Love Life games and reached the national two years in a row, in 2002 he toured internationally to Shangai, China. He aspires to be the best that he can be… “myself”.
  • 12. Alfred Elikem Kunutsor: Artistic Director Instruments: Percussionist & Marimba. Alfred was born in Accra-Ghana. He has completed a BADA Degree and now finishing his Masters Degree at Wits University . Alfred is not only a musician but a choreographer and a professional dancer. He says he gets his inspiration by tuning into the spirit of the instruments that he plays, the drums, (traditional to his Ghanaian culture) which continually connect him with his inner being in order to change the situation and the environment around him. Nhlamazi Ignatia Cynthia Madalane: Administration Officer Instruments : Percussionist, Voice & Marimba Ignatia was born in Mpumalanga, South Africa. She finished her Bmus Degree at WitsUniversity and currently, she is doing her last year of a Masters Degree, in Ethnomusicology, also at Wits University. She is An Afro-Jazz/Pop vocalist and leader of her own Afro-Jazz/Pop band, as well as a songwriter. In 1999 she joined a Gospel music group called Voices of Praise from Witbank, which she recorded an album with and which she later headed as the music director .
  • 13. Discography
    • Demo Album (recorded at SABC RBF Studios)
    • Sankofa “Live” Recorded at Stellenbosch Univ. International Chamber Music Festival
    • http://sankofa.co.za/sound-room/ (our samples on our official website and blog)
    Videography
    • www.youtube.com/sankofapercussion
    • (containing footage of workshops, rehearsals,
    • performances, documentary clips)
    • DVD ( Celebration Orchestra concert
    • celebration of State of Israel’s 60th Anniversary in
    • Wits Great Hall )
    • DVD (Sankofa’s Echoes of Remembrance
    • Theatre Production)
  • 14. Contact/Booking Details
    • Samora Ntsebeza
    • Director
    • Sankofa: Afro-Indigenous Fusion Band
    • C : 082 798 4028
    • Email : [email_address]
    • Joe Makhanza
    • Head: Marketing
    • Sankofa : Afro-Indigenous Fusion Band
    • C : 082 934 7735
    • Email : [email_address]
    [email_address]