Isintu UK Festival sets stage for indigenous artists to shine

Indigenous music is a term for the traditional music of the indigenous peoples of the world.

By Ntombi Mhlongo

While DJs, Gospel, Afro Soul and Kwaito artists have had many opportunities to showcase their talent, it has not been the case for those in the indigenous music sector.

The reason behind this is that local event organisers host few shows that feature such kinds of artists.

Again, there are a few festivals which include indigenous musicians in the line-up.

It is for that reason that an event like the upcoming Isintu UK Festival presents a big opportunity for local indigenous acts.

Isintu Festival is an Initiative by Isintu Trends, a UK-based organisation which aims to contribute to the preservation of our heritage and traditions. 

Different countries

The festival is hosted in different countries namely the UK, Botswana, and Zimbabwe and now is coming to the Kingdom of Eswatini after it was added as part of the movement. The festival will be hosted on March 25, with a zero Emalangeni entrance fee. A variety of Eswatini artists have already been selected to showcase their talent at the festival and they include both upcoming and seasoned indigenous music talents.

Read More: Artists need to improve their craft to grow a local following

Indigenous music is a term for the traditional music of the indigenous peoples of the world, that is, the music of an “original” ethnic group that inhabits any geographic region alongside more recent immigrants who may be greater in number.

The term, therefore, depends on the political role an ethnic group plays rather than on its strictly musical characteristics, for all further criteria (territory, race, history, subsistence lifestyle, etc.) Defining indigenous peoples can also be applied to majority cultures. 


Interviewed by the Eswatini Financial Times regarding the upcoming show, seasoned choreographer and events manager Larry Mahlanga said: “The festival will be of great assistance to our indigenous music artists as they will get to be promoted and given the stage. It is particularly designed for those kind of artists”.

Mhlanga was interviewed in his capacity as one of the directors of Hala Group, the company that is organising the festival on behalf of Sintu Trends. 

He went on to say the festival will present an opportunity for the locals to dust off their instruments and get ready to show the world what they are capable of. Mhlanga said this would be an event meant for the likes of Makhoyane, Storotoro and others to come not just to perform but to build networks. 

“Also, this is an important event since it is a travelling festival which rotates among different countries. It allows artists to network and stand a chance to travel when the festival goes to another country. In that way, it boosts them in terms of exposure,” he highlighted.

Traditional food

Mhlanga is of the view that as event promoters it is their duty to balance the scales and ensure that they provide opportunities for all types of artists. The festival’s website highlights that the concept moves around different countries promoting indigenous music and instruments.

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The Eswatini show will take place at the Mbabane Theatre Club and will see a number of artists from across the region and local Acts showcase their talent.

The lineup will feature SEBAGA from Botswana, Gagamela from South Africa, Indabuko African Orchestra from South Africa, and Sisa from the UK.

From Eswatini, some of the already confirmed artists and groups include Nomvula, Umbholoho, Skhehlekehle Band, Ngculwuni Cultural Group and many more while Clifford Ndlovu will be the MC of the day.

Interestingly, the organisers have spiced up the event by adding traditional dishes that will be served by T’z Café which is regarded as the home of African cuisines.

The expected dishes include Jelof rice, Amatemba from Zimbabwe, ligusha, and many other African dishes. 

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