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.