lefifi tladi artwork trio

“It’s a Shame, They’ll Never Change”

“Astral travelling on the back of a moonchild spaceship” with Lefifi Tladi, Tumi Mogorosi and Sibusile Xaba.


Recorded on windy night in April, 2o16, this Stories About Music in Africa featured the poet Lefifi Tladi (Garunkuwa) with Sibusile Xaba (PMB) on the guitar and Tumi Mogorosi (JHB) on the drums.

Born in 1987, Tumi is increasingly building a reputation in the South African jazz scene among the new crop of young Jazz musicians. Besides his intermittent formal studies at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) which he completed in 2012, the young drummer has refined his brush strokes alongside prominent South African jazz musicians who count – among them trumpeter Feya Faku, bassist Herbie Tsoaeli as well as pianist Andile Yenana. Tumi was also part of the Gauteng Jazz Orchestra which opened the stage for world- renowned American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis during his 2011 premier of the Joy of Jazz festival. Tumi’s debut album Project Elo dropped in 2013 to critical acclaim.

Poet Lefifi Tladi was born in Lady Selbourne, Pretoria in 1949. As a dynamic young man in his twenties, Lefifi used art to connect with and mobilise the Black Consciousness Movement. In 1969, he co-founded the popular band Dashiki and worked very closely with Geoff Mphakati, “his mentor”, who at the time was working for the US Embassy promoting works by black artists, sculptors, writers, poets and musicians. He then opened a small museum for contemporary Black Art in Ga-Rankuwa, west of Pretoria in 1970, which was forced to close four years later due to the onslaught of the security police. Lefifi was arrested by the security police soon after the Soweto uprising on 16 June 1976. He had been an obvious target because of his role in the growth of Black Consciousness. Lefifi went into exile in Botswana and continued pursuing his passion for art through several exhibitions in Gaborone. He co-promoted with Geoff Mphakati a touring exhibition in Sweden of works by artists from Pretoria and artists in exile. In 1977, he went to Nigeria as part of the ANC contingent to participate as a poet at the cultural festival FESTAC. In 1980, he studied art at Gerlesborgsskolan in Stockholm, Sweden. He used his art to create awareness of the South African plight all over Europe.

Sibusile Xaba was born in Newcastle, KZN. Having found music as a passion at an early age, he became engrossed in the art form, regardless of circumstances. After completing matric, Sibusile decided to pursue music as a career and enrolled in a music college. With the knowledge acquired from college he recognized a need to study further and expand his musical capacity. It was at this point that he enrolled into university to study jazz and major in jazz guitar. This decision proved to be a vital turning point in his career. It led to tours around the world with Sibusile playing his love for all sorts of people, young and old, political and apolitical. Furthermore, it honored and privileged him with opportunities to share a message with the countless people that he has met in this journey.

Stories about Music in Africa is an ongoing project of the Pan African Space Station, produced with kind support from Pro Helvetia, JHB.

For more music, head to the Pan African Space Station

Featured image by Lefifi Tladi

  • The important contribution of the Black Consciousness Movement to art activism in 1970s South Africa is without question, yet mainstream art history ignores it. The poet and painter, Lefifi Tladi, reflects in conversation with Percy Mabandu. Read it here