SA’s only female praise singer performs at WSU

Celebrated praise poet Jessica Mbangeni will be among artists performing at a Heritage Day event at Walter Sisulu University in Butterworth on Monday.

Born in Ngqamakhwe, Mbangeni has travelled the world making her mark as the only professional female praise singer in the country.

On Sunday, Mbangeni said it was very important for Africans to keep their heritage alive and be proud of it.

It was storytelling by her grandmother which was always fused with traditional Xhosa singing that played an important role in her career as a praise poet.

raise poet Jessica Mbangeni will be among other artists that will perform taking to the stage at Walter Sisulu University’s Heritage Day event in Butterworth.
raise poet Jessica Mbangeni will be among other artists that will perform taking to the stage at Walter Sisulu University’s Heritage Day event in Butterworth.
Image: Suppliied

“I am from a family and community that treasures its own language, and practises its culture and traditions.

“I stay focused and true to being who I am as an African, because I possess heritage intelligence,” she said.

Asked how she had become a praise singer, Mbangeni said: “I did not follow praise poetry – the ancient poetry muse breathes in me and through me.

“This is a gift that I refuse to give a model designed by the colonial masters as a career. I am the voice of my people conveying God's divine, as well as ancestral messages.

She said the university played a part in giving her confidence as a performer.

“My social skills and social intelligence were embraced at WSU, formerly known as the EC Technikon. It played a huge role in who I am today.”

Mbangeni said the audience could expect traditional songs to dance to and sing along with, such as Qula Kwedini, iGoli, and Nelson Mandela.

She will give them a taste of her new single, I am an African.

“I will also be giving away a voucher worth R2,500 to someone who will be able to recite a poem,” she added.

Apart from performing, Mbangeni said she would talk to students about her journey from her rural roots to where she is today.

Event organiser Khanyisile Blaai said the purpose of the event was to encourage students to embrace their heritage.

She said other groups would be performing creative arts from within the campus.

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