Album Review: Nobuntu Obabes beMbube

The third album ‘Obabes beMbube’ from the international, world touring acapella group Nobuntu. Their latest album is an assertion of their presence, as an all-women African mbube group.


Getting my hands on the latest Nobuntu album was a great pleasure and an honor. The packaging is simple, artistic and shows great attention to detail. From the album cover which is painting by Charles Nkomo, to the vibrant and expressive images by KB Mpofu. The Nobuntu album cover layout, design, typography is perfect, to say the least.

Nobuntu 'Obabes beMbube' album cover

The Nobuntu album title ‘Obabes beMbube’ is a catchy and the titling surprisingly interesting. One undoubtedly sees the clever wordplay and the uncanny link to the South African Gqom musical sensation Babes Wodumo play on the album title.

The Nobuntu, Obabes beMbube album is a twelve (12) track album, with a bonus song ‘Town Hall’ by Mahotela Queens, is rich with Ndebele Southern African Bantu culture. Through this album, Nobuntu shares their experiences, celebrate life, embrace the cultural traditions of Mbube music while redefining it and making it their own.

As I listened to the Obabes beMbube album, there are three songs that stick out for me and whisk you away namely “Nobuntu Click Song”, “Obabes beMbube” and “iLanga”. Track 6 on the Obabes beMbube album is one of my favorite songs, entitled ‘Nobuntu Click Song’.

Nobuntu Click Song pays homage to the unusual clicking sound is found in the Ndebele language in Zimbabwe. The song was composed by Zanele Manhenga a member of Nobuntu. The melodic use of the clicking sounds making them rhythmic fused with amazing harmonies give the song its unique attraction. The Nobuntu Click Song is a truly showcases the musical creativity that Nobuntu has and reflects their music growth.

“Obabes beMbube” is another amazing song composed by Dumisani Ramadu Moyo, a musical veteran and the producer of the album. Here Nobuntu shines even brighter with an amazing song arrangement, intricate harmonies and textures. The song pays homage to the Mbube musical style that emerged from a fusion of church singing and the traditional choral music. Mbube was made famous by the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Through imbube, the Bantu have expressed themselves, shared their culture, ways of survival to the world through a deliberate effort to write and compose imbube. The Nobuntu Obabes beMbube album preserves Ubuntu, through the timeless tradition of musical composition.

In the Obabes beMbube album, Nobuntu has truly explored, redefined the old traditions of the Mbube genre making it in their own way. This creativity and artistic expression that Nobuntu shares within their album keeps up to some of the pure Mbube traditions. Mbube was traditionally performed a cappella, the members of the group are generally male although a few groups have a female singer.

Nobuntu kept to some of the Mbube music traditions in the Obabes beMbube album, like performing most of their songs in a cappella.  The original use of percussions, whistling, ululating in Mbube songs such as “Silele”, “Avumile”, and “Asambeni”.  Nobuntu’s creativity and the variation to tradition is seen on songs such as “Amazing Grace”, a gospel song that was rearranged and performed in Mbube. “Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807).

The Obabes beMbube album marks a change in the musical sound that Nobuntu offered us in their previous album ‘Ekhaya’. The Ekhaya album featured amazing instrumentation, a distinctive acoustic guitar, the Mbira, and intricate harmonies. The Obabes beMbube album is more a tribute to the Mbube musical genre, all in all, Nobuntu’s, latest album is a must-have, go out get yourself a copy here.

News Reporter