Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo
Dizu Plaatjies, the son of a Xhosa traditional healer,
grew up in the Cape Town township of Langa in South Africa. Behind his warm smile is a
serious and spiritual person. He is the founder and former leader of South Africa's
internationally celebrated marimba group Amampondo.
After 15 years of touring with Amampondo, Plaatjies recorded his first solo album in 2005,
titled Ibuyambo. The CD was released together with a stage show that featured
Plaatjies and most of the players with whom he recorded (now known as the Ibuyambo
ensemble). Together, they performed in Plaatjies's hallmark body paint and costumes
inspired by traditional outfits from the Southern African region. With Ibuyambo, Plaatjies
liberally mixed traditional African instruments and songs with his own original lyrics and
melodies. On the title track, he arranged a melody from Zimbabwe for marimbas associated
with Mozambique and added a Congolese choir. On another song, he applied elements of
hip-hop music and the tongue clicks of the San people to the rural chant from a children's
game to create a neo-traditional blend of sounds.
Plaatjies and Ibuyambo's second release, African Kings, featured traditional
instruments (mbira, uhadi, umhube, and akadinda, to
name a few) and the maskandi style acoustic guitar. The production had a more
contemporary approach than Plaatjies's previous neo-traditional recordings. In 2009, the
record went on to win a prestigious South African Music Award for Best Alternative African
The multi-instrumentalists of Ibuyambo cover repertoire from Plaatjies work of more than 25
years while always offering something fresh, incorporating singing, dancing, and the use of
many rare and wonderful African instruments Plaatjies has collected throughout his career.
They have been showcased at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) in Seville, in addition to
performing in Canada, France, Germany, Algeria, Morocco, Oman, and a three-week tour in
Holland. More recently, they played the prestigious Rainforest World Music Festival in
Malaysia, WOMAD in the UK, and Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar.
As a teacher, Plaatjies has visited the US, Australia, and Scandinavia to lead
workshops. He has also performed in the Czech Republic, where his
collaboration with local folk artist Jiří Pavlica earned the duo a gold record.
When not touring, Dizu Plaatjies spends his time teaching at the University of Cape Town's
College of Music.