Musée des confluences

The extraordinary song of the Xhosa bow of South Africa

Saturday 16 November | 8 pm

A living national treasure, born in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape province, Latozi Mpahleni (better known by the name Madosini Manqina, or simply Madosini), is one of the last representatives of the musical tradition of the Xhosa people. She belongs to the Nqcoko cultural group and is a well-known composer and singer, who specialises in overtone singing. She stands out for her mastery of indigenous Xhosa instruments, such as the uhadi (musical bow with a gourd resonator), isitolotolo (Jew's harp) and, above all, the famous umrhumbe (mouth bow). The sound of this unique instrument blended with that of the voice is a singular illustration of harmonic singing (a different singing technique and style than the famous Mongolian overtone singing). This exclusively female musical practice involves a unique vocal technique, requiring a high level of skill, in particular the use of an extremely low-pitched guttural register and a specific technique known as 'period doubling' (which can be found in Sardinian shepherd choirs for example).

In addition to performing songs and solo instrumental pieces, during this event, Madosini will talk about the rich repertoire of Xhosa music with Derek Gripper, a South African musician known for his genius as an improviser and incredible guitar playing style. It will offer the two artists an opportunity to share on stage a project that has been built on a long-standing friendship.

Madosini Manqina, vocals, umrhumbe, uhadi, isitolotolo
Derek Gripper, guitar


In partnership with the Ateliers d’ethnomusicologie (ADEM), Geneva.

© DR