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Prof’s book advocates for the promotion of Venda choral music

by Gerrit Bester

There has been notable growth in the production of indigenous South African choral music repertoire. However, little effort has been made in the collection, documentation, preservation, and promotion of the repertoire of Venda choral music. Vhasiki Vhaṋanguludzwa vha Vhavenḓa vha Muzika wa Dzikhwairi (Selected Venda Choral Music Composers and their Compositions), a new book by Prof Ndwamaṱo George Mugovhani, retired Professor at the TUT’s Faculty of Arts and Design (Department of Performing Arts), sets this unfortunate record straight.

The book, that was launched at the Faculty of Arts and Design on 16 March, traces the foundations and historical development of choral music as an art form among Vhavenda. It seeks to identify and describe the factors that shaped Venda choral music by providing a description of the socio-political circumstances that shaped the music, and traces and places the existing Venda choral tradition within the context of Venda history, culture, tradition, and language.

“The book also aims to explore the place and significance of Venda choral music within South Africa, and to determine whether Venda composers such as Stephen Maimela Dzivhani, Derrick Nephawe, Khorommbi Joseph Nonge, Thinawanga Israel Ramabannda, and Fhatuwani Hamilton Sumbana succeeded in gaining recognition within the indigenous South African choral fraternity,” says Prof Mugovhani.

“In essence, the book accounts for the slow growth of repertoire and respect for Venda choral music, and the possible reasons for the misperceptions and marginalisation of the music in national competitions. The book advocates for the promotion of Venda choral music to motivate and encourage present and future composers of the language group, Vhavenda,” he adds.

The book furthermore presents the lived experiences of composers of Tshivenda songs who were interviewed by the author in a quest to address the marginalisation of the Venda language in the choral music discourse.

The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. One reviewer said: “This book will be a great resource for academics, composers, musicians, researchers, and students who are interested in the history of Vhavenḓa, their customs and traditions, their choral music as well as the canon of Venda choral composers. The book is an effort to preserve Venda choral music as well as the works of its composers. It is great to preserve available works of either past or present Venda composers and archive them professionally before they completely become extinct. An English version of this book would be a great resource for a bigger market since its content would be of interest to a wider audience.”

Vhasiki Vhaṋanguludzwa vha Vhavenḓa vha Muzika wa Dzikhwairi (ISBN: 978-1-77615-132-5) is published by Unisa Press and available at R250 from

A proud moment for Prof Ndwamaṱo George Mugovhani (third from left) at the launch of his latest book, Vhasiki Vhaṋanguludzwa vha Vhavenḓa vha Muzika wa Dzikhwairi. Posing with him are (from left) Dr Meiya G. Nthoesane, Unisa Press Director; Prof Thomas M. Sengani, retired Professor, African Languages, University of South Africa; and Dr Lebogang L. Nawa, Secretary General: National Writers Association of South Africa.

Prof Ndwamaṱo George Mugovhani posing with his latest book, Vhasiki Vhaṋanguludzwa vha Vhavenḓa vha Muzika wa Dzikhwairi.

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