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African Music Spotlight: Medloko Meropa band’s “Journey of the Drum” performance at the South Africa State Theater

by Eva Rose Tesfaye on May 23, 2018

This Friday, May 25th, at the South Africa State Theater in Pretoria, the drumming group Medloko Meropa band will perform “Journey of the Drum,” a concert that will celebrate African cultural unity and diversity.

 “Journey of the Drum is a music platform where artists collaborate in indigenous instruments, drums dance. Cultural exchange of percussionists from Nigeria, India, Ireland and South Africa telling the story of the Journey through drums and percussion with African folklore praise poetry. It is a true interpretation of how the drum interconnects with different genres of music,” says organiser and lead Drummer of Medloko group, Lulu Tshabalala.

The show will combine different music and dance styles such as, house, hip hop, Latin and Jazz. The energetic drumming will use soulful music and dance and will feature several international artists: PoyPoy, Makhubela, Ekundayo Dbass, Tlokwe Sehume, Vusi Mahlasela, Sol Shibambo, Mikelangelo, Saradindu, and Movi M.

Outside of their concerts the Medloko group, which originated in Tshwane, has a mission to provide young people in South African townships with cultural awareness and life skills, by providing them teaching in traditional African dance, music and theatre. Their workshops, development programs, and musical theater performances use these traditional skills to explore contemporary issues in the South African townships.

The company is well-respected in South Africa. They have performed in Australia with the Sounds Live Choir and for the late former president, Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

Meropa Medloko runs out of the South African state theater which houses some of the greatest performing arts facilities in South Africa. The theater, which originally opened in 1981 as Apartheid was coming to an end, is committed to preserving the cultures and traditions of the nation, but also hosting a variety of entertainment from South Africa and around the world.

Journey of the Drum comes up alongside other exciting shows, including the State Youth’s expression festival, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary and encourages students to celebrate their heritage while confronting modern issues. There will also be a five-time grammy award winner, Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert celebrating Nelson Mandela and the new award-winning play, The Fall, which is about the #Rhodesmustfall student movement in Cape Town in 2015.

The show is being advertised as “a collaboration between South African and international artists”, which fits into the theme of what it is celebrating, Africa Day. Africa Day is an annual celebration commemorating the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, which is now known as the African Union. Originally inspired by Ghana’s independence, it is celebrated each year on May 25th although celebrations can sometimes last longer.

It is a time for Africans on the continent and part of the diaspora can come together and celebrate the diversity of Africa. It is celebrated with cultural events, such as concerts, music festivals, food festivals, and museum exhibitions.

Each year Africa Day has a different theme. Last year the theme was The Year of OR Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World. This year it’s the African Union Agenda 2063 promoting “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

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Eva Rose Tesfaye
Eva Tesfaye has traveled around the world her whole life but thinks of Africa as home. She loves reading novels and watching plays (especially ones with people of color in them). She has a love-hate relationship with her big curly hair.