Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Zulu Princess

Princess Constance Magogo
8.25" x 7.5"
oil on wood, 2011
The Princess' name is Constance Magogo Sibilile Mantithi Ngangezinye kaDinuzulu (1900-1984). Quite a name indeed but not even close to that of her fellow South African singer Miriam Makeba (1932-2008): Zenzile Makeba Qgwashu Nguvama Yiketheli Nxgowa Bantana Balomzi Xa Ufun Ubajabulisa Ubaphekeli Mbiza Yotshwala Sithi Xa Saku Qgiba Ukutja Sithathe Izitsha Sizi Khabe Singama Lawu Singama Qgwashu Singama Nqamla Nqgithi, who is of Swazi and Xhosa descend. Miriam isn't even part of that name! My name is Lambertus Gerardus Martinus van Boekel and it really falls short in comparison.
The first recordings of Princess Magogo were made by Hugh Tracey in 1939, it was the start of a long  career in traditional Zulu music while defying Zulu gender traditions. The Tracey recordings are exquisite and the featured Top 100 track Umuntu ehlobile singem jabise yini tina? is only one of the 39 he recorded, and one is even more beautiful than the other. I've already mused about Tracey a month ago and further examples from the thousands of discs he recorded in Africa are to follow in months to come. Supplemented, of course, with painted renditions of Tracey's photos or other photos of the musicians Tracey recorded.

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