The South African music veteran brings light into the dark November

For the Etnosoi! festival it is a dream come trues to finally have Dizu Plaatjies performing at the festival. The charismatic artist and his Ibuyambo ensemble plays, sings and dances, gathering inspiration from the rich traditions of southern Africa.

Plaatjies, the son of a healer of the xhosa-people, grew up in the township of Langa in Cape Town. Ha has dedicated his life to music but is also a strong defender of civil rights. This year we celebrate that 100 years have passed since Nelson Mandela was born, and this great man in South African history was also an important figure for Plaatjies personally. The artist’s wife belongs to the Mandela family and as a musician Dizu Plaatjies has lived very close to the historical phases of Mandela’s life.

During his career which has lasted over 25 years Dizu Plaatjies has performed at festivals and stages all over the world until Carnegie Hall in New York. With the legendary Amampondo ensemble he performed at the historical stadion concert arranged for Nelson Mandela at the Wembley Stadium in London in 1988, by the side of world-famous artists from Sting to Whitney Houston. Amampondo also visited Finland in the 1990s but for Ibuyambo Ensemble this is the first visit in the country.

African renaissance

As a musician Dizu Plaatjies has an open mind and mixes different traditions with his own compositions and lyrics. The result is positive and energetic music bowing towards the tradition, and the style has also been called neo-traditional. Ibuyambo means renaissance, and the idea is closely related to former South African president Thabo Mbekis view of Africa being reborn after apartheid.

“As old people die, they disappear with vast knowledge of how music was made in the past. Most of us [Africans] growing up now have very little knowledge of African instruments and melodies. - - Old African classical music has to be documented in Africa’s new beginning" Plaatjies tells in an interview for Mail & Guardian.

The repertoire of Ibuyambo is broader than the South African national borders and ingredients come from the whole Sub-Saharan Africa: traditions from Mocambique, Congo and Rwanda as well as the clicking sounds of the san language, children’s rhymes and hip hop elements. Also the instruments come from many countries and includes different types of marimbas, thumb pianos and musical bows.

Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble has released three records so far: Ibuyambo (2005), African Kings (2008) and Ubuntu – The Common String (2015), the two later have also won prestigious South African SAMA awards.

Besides touring all over the world Dizu Plaatjies also dedicates his time to teaching, mainly at the University of Cape Town. In Finland he and his fellow musicians also teach at the Sibelius Academy at the University of Arts. The results can be heard at Father’s Day in Etnosoi! for kids, where the musicians perform together with students as well as host music and dance workshop for children.

Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble 6.11. at 8 pm Korjaamo, Helsinki. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets 25/20 € (presales/Tiketti) - 27/22 € (at the door).

Meet the Artist: Dizu Plaatjies 5.11. at 5.30 Rikhardinkatu library, interviewed in English by PhD, university lecturer Tuulikki Pietilä

Etnosoi! for kids 11.11. at 2–5 pm Malmitalo. Free admission!