She is worthy to be celebrated!
She was a senior wife to the last Ndebele King Lobengula, and Queen Lozikeyi was not just a wife to the king, she had a status of a Prime Minister in the court of Lobengula, something strange during the era.
The world today is singing about women’s empowerment.
Equality advocacy for women to get powerful posts in all areas is the order of the day.
This is the same agenda that Queen Lozikeyi was pushing in the 1890s.
With the success of leading troops against the British and her advocacy for black education which led to the establishment of mission schools in the country, Queen Lozikeyi’s tale needs to be told.
A vibrant cast made up of Bulawayo sons and daughters made the world understand the works of the Queen at the just-ended second edition of the Bulawayo Arts Festival (BAF). The Queen died of Spanish Influenza in 1919.
As the musical play was streamed live to the world (twice on different days), over 60 countries who were watching the BAF experience had an opportunity to understand the Queen’s tale.
Even President Mnangagwa gave affirmation to the musical play as he requested for an encore, dedicating his precious “extra” 15 minutes for the cast to make a second take of the play.
Why Queen Lozikeyi, and why should she be celebrated?
“The Songs of Lozikeyi takes us through in understanding a woman who was possessed with many traits, some good, others questionable, and most understood.
“The songs tell her struggles and her highs and lows.
“They narrate where she hails from and give a glimpse of the importance of culture and faith not only to her but her people too. The songs introduce Queen Lozikeyi as a heroine to the world,” said the concept and director of the play Saimon Mambazo Phiri.
Experienced talent was fused with the young blood, and discipline and zeal to learn were used as a criterion of purposefully selecting the cast.
“If you follow all my productions from Ibumba Arts Festival to the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards, I always make sure that I fuse the old and young talent because once you do that you are guaranteed of a vibrant production,” said Mambazo.
What the world saw on the musical play was just a piece of the cake as Mambazo said they were still working on a lengthy production of the Queen and researches from historians and elders were still on course so as not to tell a distorted story.
If one took the time to watch the Songs of Lozikeyi, notable is the great work of choreography that was done by Mehluli “Gomez” Dube (also percussionist on the play) and former Siyaya member Makula Moyo.
Surprisingly, it took only two weeks to polish up the choreography.
The Songs of Lozikeyi is expected to be a historic blockbuster musical play to ever come from Bulawayo.
When the catastrophic Covid-19 era is concluded, the play is set to tour the world and be celebrated like the South African musical play Sarafina.
Noma Nkwali’s song Halala Lozikeyi (which was commissioned by the Queen Lozikeyi Trust), is the main song of the Queen’s tale.
Asambeni, Mbungazeni, Queen Lozikeyi, and Sizopika are some of the songs in the play (for now).
Thandi Dlana is also a lead vocalist on the play and they (lead vocalists) are dressed by Vuyelwa Mabhena.
Iluba Lemvelo’s dominant old women dance ensemble features on the play as dancers.
All-female Imbube group Nobuntu are backing vocalists.
Prince Joel Nyoni is the music director with Caleb Mujere, Paul Maseko, and Raymond Takawira completing the band.
Josh Nyapimbi is the executive producer, Lady Tshawe is the writer and researcher also joined by Thabani H Moyo as a writer.
Sthandazile Dube and Thandokuhle Sibanda are praise poets.
Thandis Canvas is the make-up artist.