Black Umfolosi are, without a doubt, Zimbabwe’s number one acappella song and dance performing company with over 30 years of touring and stage experience.
Based at the Enkundleni Cultural Centre in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Black Umfolosi take their name from the Umfolosi River that flows through the Natal province in South Africa. Some of the fore-fathers of the Matabele tribe came from the banks of the river. The group came together by chance in 1982 as a means of entertaining themselves whilst still at school, not long after the independence of Zimbabwe. Then aged between eight and sixteen, their first production was a series of traditional songs performed at their school in support of their football team. This led to performances at local festivals and trade fairs resulting in African and International tours. Black Umfolosi are one of the first to admit that the political upheaval and stresses of the eighties in Zimbabwe gave them a unique opportunity to contribute to the history of the country through their song “Unity,” which is still being aired today.
Black Umfolosi describe their music as a vocal newspaper through which they communicate issues of HIV/AIDS, Political Tolerance, Religion, Heritage, Culture and Globalization. Black Umfolosi sing acappella music which is a rich woven tapestry of harmonies grounded on a bed of Zimbabwean melodies. The company sings in Ndebele, Shona, Kalanga, English and are always willing to try new languages. The company also performs dance pieces which range from Amabhiza, a harvest dance that borrows movement from the horse, Umtshongoyo, a victory and celebratory dance, Isitshikitsha- a religious and celebratory dance that uses feet stomping, Gumboot dance – originated in the South African mines where miners where communicating and entertaining themselves. Over the years, the company has branched out and tried various genres that include Jazz, Funk and Afro-pop using African and Western musical instruments.