Letters with MaSisulu reflect on South Africa’s Present


Neo and Mosa Motsatse ended their Letters with maSisulu music production with a bang on Wednesday 4 July by winning an Ovation award for the second year. Neo, the violinist, led the band in many classic and contemporary songs that honoured Albertina Sisulu and reflected on the journey South Africa has travelled in the last few decades

A few letters written for maSisulu, from Neo were read for the audience, reflecting not only how she felt about maSisulu, but also about the state of South Africa and her place in it. The letters were optimistic, recognising the late stalwart’s struggles and victories. Their main themes of sacrifice, mothering and triumph flowed beautifully with the music. Songs such as “Redemption Song”, “Senzeni Na” and “Thina Sizwe” were incorporated in the production. Another layer would perhaps have been added to the production if a few letters from other people were read out.

Mosa Motsatse honours Albertina Sisulu through spoken word. Picture b Karabo Baloyi

Mosa said, “The most special part about this band and how we put it together was that we worked with Grahamstown locals. So we came in last week to start rehearsals with them.” Including the locals added a warm, often overlooked touch to the production: part of it felt like it belonged specifically to Makhanda.

“There is so much more in store for what we have started here. We have plans from the 18th of July to the 21st of October which is maSisulu’s birthday,” said Neo, excited about their plans for this and other productions, some of which will take place in Johannesburg: “We also have a lot of community work planned because it was something close to maSisulu’s heart and it’s something close to our heart as well.”  

Some of the band members playing South African classics. Picture by Karabo Baloyi

The sisters have a lot of community work planned to run alongside the Letters with MaSisulu production, something which was close to her heart. “We run a girl-empowerment programme in Johannesburg called girl power. We wanted to honour her in this way to show girls that they too can be leaders now because she became a leader at a young age,” said Mosa.

By Karabo Baloyi