Award-winning, Durban-based isicathamiya group, The Kholwa Brothers, have returned homes to a hero’s welcome. They outdid themselves at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles last month.
They walked away with 32 gold and 18 silver medals.
The Kholwa Brothers are not only putting isicathamiya on the map, but they’re doing it in style. Isicathamiya is one of the biggest musical genres in South Africa. It embodies the acapella style of group singing. It was started in 1990 by Derrick Mlambo. It’s now an 11-member all-male group.
The group is mainly made up of young South Africans. And coincidently most of them were taught by the group’s leader, who is a school teacher by day. 22-year-old Brian Ndwandwe from Ntuzuma joined the group when he was just 10-years-old. He says it’s kept him busy and off the streets.
“It was not easy I can say because when I started, I was doing it as a hobby, and I just wanted to hang out with the guys. But as time went on, I saw that I can make a living with what I’m doing, It was very hard because I have been all over the place. I can say I didn’t just choose music from the first time. But when time went on, I saw that maybe this thing is in my blood because there came a point when I saw that I enjoyed it.”
Similarly, Ntandoyenkosi Majola, says isicathamiya is an intrinsic part of his life.
“It’s been something that I really love and now even if I’m not at rehearsal I feel like I did something wrong so Isichathamiya is something that is part of my life now.”
Founder Derrick Mlambo says he is exceptionally proud of their success.
“We made sure that we became number one in four songs and number two in two songs and that’s how we were able to bring into South Africa 32 gold medals and 16 silver medals. I am very proud of ourselves. I am very proud of these young people who have made sure that they move out of the streets to participate in this genre. I’m very much honoured to have worked with them.”
Isicathamiya became popular outside South Africa and the African continent after Paul Simon’s album Graceland featured tracks such as “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes”. He was then backed by the world-renowned Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
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