Lindiwe Mabuza, South Africa’s former high commissioner to the UK, launched her book, Tambo Lenyoka, to much aplomb in London this week.
The book is an anthology of poems and writings about former ANC president and anti-apartheid activist Oliver Reginald Tambo, and two of the men with whom he shared a special relationship and bond: Sweden’s former prime minister Olof Palme and former president Thabo Mbeki.
The launch was marked by two events, starting on Tuesday with a reading of poetry from Mabuza’s book in the UK Parliament’s House of Lords. This occasion was hosted by South African-born British peer and well-known anti-apartheid activist Lord Peter Hain, who remains a good friend of South Africa. He has made headlines in the recent past for speaking out against the Guptas and corruption in the then Jacob Zuma-led administration.
On Wednesday, the proceedings moved to the SA High Commission on Trafalgar Square, where young artist Pendo Masote delighted the distinguished guests.
Masote, a young violinist who is a student at the renowned Yehudi Menuhin School of Music in Surrey outside London, drew resounding applause with his performance.
Expressing his joy at the response, Masote, a former member of the SA National Youth Orchestra, said that the highlight for him was not only his performance, but also learning more about his country: “Performing in front of the high commissioner was a privilege and a great pleasure,” he said.
“The occasion was very inspirational and motivating in that I learnt even more about the history of South Africa – about some of the unsung heroes who, in my opinion, are underrated and not recognised.
“Listening to the stories gave me more of a sense of responsibility as a young South African. It’s great to see that politicians and government officials are noticing our talent as young people. I will always cherish this.”
Masote’s grandfather, Michael Masote, formed the Soweto Youth Orchestra back in 1965 and some of his uncles are part of renowned local ensemble, the Soweto String Quartet.
And his father is celebrated cellist and musical conductor Kutlwano Masote.
“Classical music is very important to my family,” said the young violinist. “We enjoy it together.”
Added to his music pedigree is his political heritage: his great-grandfather is Zephania “Lion of Azania” Mothopeng, a founder and former president of the Pan Africanist Congress.
Also part of the line-up on Wednesday evening was Durban-born and now London-based Njabulo Madlala, a baritone who trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice.
South Africa’s current high commissioner to the UK, and Tambo’s daughter, Nomatemba Tambo, spoke of her father’s legacy and expressed the country’s appreciation at the hosting of Tuesday’s event.