Let’s teach our children that tradition, culture must be preserved- Cele

Years ago Ntebaleng Cele, co-founder of the flourishing LaCasa Spit and Chisa Nyama, perched in the hustling and bustling of Maboneng Precinct, and staff had to go for cover in a robbery that resulted in her being shot several times.

But because she’s and ardent culturist and believes ‘too much’ in God she has forgiven those cowards (though never easy process) is now focusing on the business and championing the word: heritage and ubuntu.

Ntebaleng and her business associates hosted the annual Heritage Day celebrations at the venue, were 21 traditional mbaqanga/isicathamiya groups came to showcase their prowess in front of packed crowds, although Covid-19 regulations were adhered to, such events bring along difficulties as well.

Born and bred in Ladysmith, the famous town that prides itself for having produced multiple Grammy award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ntebaleng through her connection that spans years within the entertainment industry, brought unknowns and well liked Mroza all the way from the far-flung areas of KwaZulu-Natal to the city of gold to share, learn and impart the importance of heritage and culture.

Young and old, including amatshitshi (virgins) came in throngs to be part of the celebrations last week Saturday.

“My main principle is to teach both young and old the importance of culture and what it takes to preserve it. Your heritage says a lot about you as umuntu (person) and by affording these kids the platform such as this event would go a long way in understanding and practicing it,” says Ntebaleng, bucket-sweating as a result of running errands and feeding guests with umqombothi (traditional beer).

“My other mission is to teach them that not everything should happen in KZN but it can and must also happen in Jozi, because most of these kids’ parents stay in and around the famous Mai-Mai (traditional venue known for selling muti in downtown Jozi) this still shows they preserve their culture.”

Exhausted yet determined to run the show, she tells I’m working with other students to learn how to bead and create cultural-wares that will be sold at the building that has produced the likes of David Tlale. The building (residence of their chisa-nyama) has paintings that resembles Africanness from reggae stars Bob Marley, Lucky Dube to author Maya Angello, Muhammad Ali, etc…

The only outstanding paint is that of uMama Dr Esther Mahlangu, and tells ‘would love to have her personally paint my wall’.

“By so doing I know I will be on the right path in teaching both youngsters and adults what is art, culture and history,” she says with conviction.

‘Damn if you do, damn if you don’t’, was a sarcastic comment directed at her, from one of the guys in the building as they were hard at work preparing for the event, and according to Ntebaleng this gave her vigour to push this envelope.

Next on her to do list: ‘host a street event on Africa Day were all African countries would come under one roof to celebrate Ubuntu and re-affirm our identity’ but firstly, she pointed out, ‘needs partnerships from Tourism department and other stakeholders to fulfill that dream’.

African consciousness is how one would aptly describe Ntebaleng, though the scars of bullets on her shoulders are evident that life is what you make out of it…

She rounded up the interview -that was interrupted purposely so- by thumping isicathamiya music blaring unashamedly by reciting in isiZulu and declaring she’s from the Tshabalala clan (mshengu).      

Image Sipho MALUKA (One of the Isicathamiya groups that performed at LaCasa Spit and Chisa Nyama eatery during the National Heritage Day, held at Maboneng Precinct).  

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