By Themba Khumalo

It was in 2015 when Mbuso Khoza, an award-winning jazz musician, ditched the genre to focus on indigenous music, amahubo.

This was described by some as a terrible decision. Sceptics opined that Mbuso had gone bonkers.
There were those who, in hushed tones, muttered that he was committing hara-kiri.

The celebrated actor, historian, musician, heritage activist and songwriter with a splendid and original sound, soldiered on and in time, has silenced his critics and naysayers.

A glance into his past reveals why he embarked on the journey of rediscovery.

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian in May 2018 Mbuso explained: “Around 1985, when I was about six years old, we would herd cattle in the hills. I grew up with boys who could sing and lead songs particularly well.

“You would find that, in the afternoons, we would have imfundelo for imigonqo or weddings. A lot of the songs I knew then I learnt there. These were like practice and prep sessions for specific occasions,” he said.

“It is important to safeguard that culture as it is and also open it up to other interpretations like jazz or pop so that it reaches the public’s consciousness and, through that, find a way for its essence to be safeguarded.”
He also told the publication his mother had a vast knowledge of amahubo, which were in essence, historical and political details of the cultural life of amaZulu.

“If it was stormy weather, she would gather us into the house and start singing amahubo akwaKhoza,” he told the M&G.

“I began my journey as a jazz artist, and the evolution has been fulfilling. When I began researching Amahubo, which I refer to as the scroll of the nation, I’d never have imagined how it would grow and be embraced by our people. Today, I am ready to give gospel a twist on stage, for my people,” he explained.

Mbuso, who has thrilled audiences in countries such as Switzerland, Burkina Faso, Holland, Senegal, Portugal, Germany and France, has made a name for himself through his passion for heritage and culture.
A rare musical talent who hails from the undulating hills of Eshowe in Kwa-Zulu Natal, will be presenting Ihubo – Song of Ages, an original and covetable gospel show at the Joburg Theatre from 1 to 3 April.

Describing the forthcoming show, he said: “There have been many gospel shows staged locally and internationally, and after requests from fans and supporters I curated a show that speaks to gospel the way I believe it should be presented.

“This show, titled Ihubo – Song of Ages, is not an ordinary concert. It will be packed with information that dissects what we have come to know today as the gospel. The theme of the show is God-Spell; meaning we are spelling God, spelling everything positive, good news, healing and strength to keep on keeping on.”

The show will feature a performance by Mbuso, who will be accompanied by seven-piece band. The band comprises Sam Ibe from Nigeria, on drums, Qhubekani Mthethwa on bass, Sanele Phakathi on keys, Thabo Sikhakhane on trumpet, Thembinkosi and Tshepo playing saxophones.

Patrons will be treated to a sumptuous feast of rearranged old choruses and compositions by Mbuso. Just as he has done with Amahubo, there will be renditions of spiritual songs which were lamentations by African-Americans, such as Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Audiences will be taken on an educational journey of how the brothers and sisters in the US came to begin worshipping.

“It is time for us to get back on our feet and reclaim our rightful places in this world. The sufferings of the past two years that brought us to our knees have been a great eye-opener and have necessitated these kinds of initiatives.”

Mbuso firmly believes that he did not find himself in the creative arts by fate or by chance. Rather, he was called to push the envelope.

“Performing is like going through a spiritual journey, and by appearing on screens, be it as an actor, singer, performer or narrator at least one person gets some form of healing. That propels me to work even harder and unleash all the potential within me.”

Mbuso recently returned from a European tour with Swiss trumpeter, Mat Spiellman, which was as a result of a 2021 collaboration titled Matts Up. The tour was a fusion of Amahubo and Western sounds.
Just like Ihubo – Song of Ages the tour was one of the initiatives to raise funds to get the Mbuso Khoza Institute (MKI) off the ground.

All proceeds from the show will be donated to MKI, whose purpose is to unearth and nurture the talents of aspiring artists in northern KZN.

Tickets for Ihubo – Song of Ages are available for purchase on

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