The women of the Nobuntu choir from Zim­babwe perform. | Courtesy Press Image Nobuntu

Nobuntu, a five-part a cap­pella vocal ensemble made up of women from Bul­awayo, Zim­babwe, filled the sanc­tuary of Hillsdale College Baptist Church with their joyful and beau­tiful voices Oct. 10.

As soon as Nobuntu stepped on stage, they imme­di­ately cap­ti­vated the audience with their exu­berant presence, cre­ating a vibrant energy throughout the sanc­tuary. The women wore brightly colored dresses paired with white Con­verse sneakers, and each wore ornate pieces of jewelry such as ear­rings, bracelets, and neck­laces.

They began their program with an emo­tional, yet equally pow­erful song, “Uyan­giohoxa.” This song places blame on Satan for troubles and calls out to the Almighty for for­titude and courage.

Between each of their songs, the women explained the meaning of the upcoming song and why it was important to them and their culture.

The women per­formed “Cry Song” which calls for an end to child abuse and asks everyone to help in pro­tecting children. Their voices con­veyed a feeling of sorrow for those facing abuse, but they were also spirited and full of hope.  

In addition to cel­e­brating life and con­veying a message of hap­piness through each of their songs, Nobuntu also told stories through their songs.

One song, “Black Pres­ident” tells the story of Nelson Mandela leaving prison after 27 years. The women honored Mandela as being a for­giving man and a won­derful pres­ident to his people.

Nobuntu is not only the first all- female Imbube ensemble in Zim­babwe, but also the entire world. Most Imbube ensembles in Zim­babwe are still com­posed of all men. In fact, the women have a song ded­i­cated to their success as women and their par­ticular style of singing. “Obabes Bembube,” which transaltes to ‘babes of Mbube,’ cel­e­brates the women’s many oppor­tu­nities through music, specif­i­cally their ability to travel the world and interact with fans.

Throughout the night, the women accom­panied their voices with their dance move­ments which included clapping, stomping, and snapping. During their per­for­mance of  “Obabes Bembube,” the singers smiled radi­antly as they danced to the beat of their pow­erful voices and the audience was very engaged. One victory song in par­ticular, “Avumile,” included a dance routine that imi­tated the sound of a horse gal­loping.

In another song, “Nobuntu Click Song,” the women made a clicking sound with their mouths and even got the audience involved in their per­for­mance. They also used small per­cussion instru­ments like one drum, one tam­bourine, maracas, ankle shakers, and two mbiras.  

Nobuntu per­formed an Imbube version of “Amazing Grace” which was a refreshing take on a tra­di­tional song. The song began slow and somber and then pro­gres­sively, the beat picked up and the song became cel­e­bratory.

The women of Nobuntu spread mes­sages of hope, love, and peace through their uplifting voices. Anyone who watches Nobuntu perform can expect to be reju­ve­nated with pos­itive energy and have their heart and soul uplifted.