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Nothembi Mkhwebane

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Biography

Peki Emmelinah “Nothembi” Mkhwebane (African Queen of Ndebele Music) was born in Carolina near Belfast in South Africa on 1/01/1953. She grew up loving music, especially indigenous Ndebele music. Her Grandmother, Mantombana Mthimunye, taught her to play Ndebele instruments like isikumero, isidonodono and the african drum (iingubhe) and her uncle Besaphi Mthimunye taught her to play a home made oil tin guitar. These lessons were during lunch time while they were ploughing the fields and looking after cattle in the 60’s.

In 1977 she left home and started working in Pretoria where she bought a keyboard and acoustic guitar and started to compose songs. In 1980 she formed a group called Nothembi Nezelamani Zakonomazyana’ freely translated Nothembi (her traditional name) Nezelamani (the siblings) Zakonomazyana (the clan’s name). During those days they were invited to perform at cultural gatherings, weddings and other traditional ceremonies.

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