Sibongile Mngoma: Here with us

Out there are the shots, the broken glass, acrid palls, zombies, Zuma, bodies.

But we are here in the warm feathery bosom of Sibongile Mngoma. Her husky tones, her low notes and high notes drifting along on beautiful slow jazz piano, bass, drum, sax and violin.

At last we have the big spacey stage with the smoke that drifts in the background centred with her love and gratitude. She says, in a time of strife, “we are here”, a metaphor for the vast majority of South Africans who simply seek peace.

Her face, her hands, her feathers, her sequins, her sumptuous doek, exude a loving matriarchal calm and authority.

She sings the national anthem, at once a poignant lament but also a sublimely creative piece of play. Violin sounding almost like a weeping saxophone. The rest of the band deep in the catharsis. This is the beautiful space we all want for ourselves.

She segues into the Lord’s Prayer and the emotion is almost unbearable. You feel that they know and we know that they are playing out of their skins.

This is not just opera. It is not just jazz. It is just us. She weeps. We all weep.

Sibongile Mngoma – Opera meets Jazz, was live streamed on the National Arts Festival on 16 July.

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