Chevron Dove : JOSEPH SHABALALA...I Don't JUST Want to Visit Africa...

Chevron Dove

Well-Known Member
May 7, 2009


When I hear this song on Sesame Street, the African Alphabet, by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, it brings back memories when my kids were young. When I see the landscape scenery and hear the sounds of these men, it's therapeutic for me. I think about all of the racial hardship I've experienced here in America and know too, that Africa still has its' problems with racial issues too, but this music and picture just eases my mind and sort of gives me hope for a better day. It makes me feel so good to be of African origin.

I remember first hearing these men when I watched the Graceland show on television and I so, after I stumbled across this video of their voices on Sesame Street, I decided to do a little more research. I learned that the founder and leader of this group, Joseph Shabalala, is still active. Until my research, i never connected to the fact that this group also did the music, Shaka Zulu! There is so much more history about their unique sound and how it evolved. Anyway, I just want to share some of my past favorites:

The leader and founder of the group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Joseph was born in the town of Ladysmith (eMnambithi district) in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.... His parents... raised Joseph and his six siblings on a white-owned farm called Tugela. His father died in the late 1940s; Joseph, being the eldest, had to take care of the family. He left the farm, however, in 1958 to search for work in the nearby town of Durban.

In 1960, Joseph Shabalala joined a group but later formed his own group with a unique style known as ISICATHAMIYA and his group of mostly his brothers and cousins and they became well known in Africa. In 1986, Paul Simon traveled to South Africa in search of artist and they became apart of his Graceland tour. After this show, they soon became known worldwide. Tragedy struck Joseph soon. In 1991, Joseph's brother and fellow member Headman Shabalala was killed by an off-duty white security guard named, Sean Nicholas, near the town of Ladysmith. Then about 11 years after this, in 2002, Joseph's beautiful wife of 30 years, Nellie Shabalala, was shot and killed outside of their home. Then in 2004, Ben Shabalala was also killed. Soon, his sons became apart of this group as well.



Joseph met Veronica a month after the death of Nellie and they married 6 months after the death of Nellie.


This style was popular before Joseph and is said to go back to the early 1900's when it was developed by South African Zulu men. Some historians debate this origin history and say that this style was due to minstrel performances that came to South Africa during the late 1800s. It is also associated with another term MBUBE. The Isicathamiya style is a capella and a dance that is soft shoe, while the Mbube is more powerful performance. More about this style can be read about from this site

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO, the history about the group
Before Joseph named his group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, he called it, Ezimnyama (“The Black Ones”). But after they won many competitions he changed the name to represent that they were winners.

… Initially, the group comprised Joseph Shabalala, his brothers Headman and Enoch, cousins Albert, Milton, Funokwakhe, Abednego and Joseph Mazibuko, as well as close friends Matovoti Msimanga and Walter Malinga. Altogether, the group has had more than 30 different members at one point or another over the past 45 years. [31] However, since 1993 there have only been two membership changes due to retirements....

More Sites:

from album; SHAKA ZULU

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