Young Mbazo set to head abroad

Young Mbazo members with Ladysmith Black Mambazo frontman Joseph Shabalala. Babuyile Shabalala, who heads Young Mbazo, is Joseph’s grandson and is pictured second left in the top row. Picture by Olga von Eck.


DURBAN vocal group Young Mbazo, comprising young relatives of Ladysmith Black Mambazo members, is seeking contributions towards costs of a trip to represent South Africa at cultural festivals in Bulgaria and Mexico.

First up will be the festival in Bulgaria, called The Bulgarian Rose Festival. It runs from August 20 to 27.

“This is the one for which we most need cash, costumes or Proudly SA gifts for members of other countries that will be represented at the festival,” says Babuyile Shabalala, leader of the group , who is the grandson of Ladysmith Black Mambazo frontman Joseph Shabalala.

The 10-member Young Mbazo has also been invited to Mexico for the Encuento Internacional Folklore Gala from September 29 to October 13. Their flight and visa expenses for this trip have been funded by the Department of Arts and Culture.

“As with the Bulgarian festival, we will also need for this trip Proudly SA gifts to give to the mayor of each city. We will visit Hidalgo, Morelos, Coahuila and Zacatecus,’ adds Babuyile.

The festivals highlight 10 groups from various countries who offer  indigenous folk performances. They exchange cultural and artistic ideas, as well as gifts that are symbolic of each country.

“There is also a food and beverage festival as part of the event. Each team cooks traditional food and beverages that are unique to their home country,” says Babuyile.

Young Mbazo, he points out, is part of a national group that includes 25 youths, many of whom are students or unemployed. The team includes Zulu, Sotho, Sepedi and Xhosa dancers, and a four-member camera crew that will document the trip and turn it into an “edutainment” documentary that Babuyile hopes will be aired on local television.

“Our plan is to make the crew part of the Young Mbazo Entartainment company that wishes to travel across South Africa, visiting youths in schools, communities and institutions to remind them of the importance of identity, heritage, culture and history,” says Babuyile.

Young Mbazo members and other cultural groups in Italy last year. Picture by Dylan Thomas Silk.

Young Mbazo was fortunate to attend a cultural festival in Italy last year, sponsored by the Department of arts and Culture, and a return there is now on the cards.

Last year’s trip came a week after the group entered a Durban recording studio with Joseph Shabalala to record a debut album.

“We have now completed the recording of the tracks and all that is left to do is the mixing and mastering. We recorded at KZN Music House on a Cultural Music Development grant.

“Before leaving South Africa for the festival events we wish to mix, master and release at least two singles, and then we want to release our album on our return,” adds Babuyile.

The group is also currently putting on shows in and around Durban to help raise funds for the overseas trips and future plans. The most recent shows, called Volume Africa, were at Glenwood’s Habesh Cafe and 127OnDavenport.

Young Mbazo is also to perform as part of a South African Traditional Music Association events to announce nominations for the association’s annual awards. This will be on August 12, at the Durban’s 12 Gugu Dlamini Park and the Durban International Convention Centre.

Young Mbazo will also host a group from Denmark, The Baobab Sisters, in September, to support them in celebrating the release of their album. The group features eight women from Copenhagen who sing cultural music from Soith Africa.

Note: Anyone who may be of assistance to Young Mbazo can reach Babuyile at



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