The master of traditional Tshivenda music

Date:26 November 2017 - By:

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Many people know him as the brilliant character who played Marema in the famous Phalaphala FM soapie, I khou khidzhana. He is currently portraying the old man Vho-Murunzi in another soapie, Ndi yone mini yeneyi, for the same radio station. 

But behind all these, Mashudu Thomas Romani (38) is one of the people who have rare skills and commitment to preserve Venda indigenous music, instruments and culture. A poet in his own right, Romani, who hails from Matanda village in the Nzhelele area, plays rare indigenous music instruments, which include lugube, nguluvhe, mbila and mirumba.

Romani says he fell in love with indigenous music in 2005. “I was walking in my village when I picked up a lugube. I developed an interest in playing it, but there was no one to teach me how to play. I had no other alternative but to teach myself the skills of playing lugube.  As years went by, I then fell in love with other indigenous instruments like nguluvhe, mbila and mirumba. I then taught myself how to play these instruments. Since then, the instruments have been part of my life every day.”

He says he is in a drive to teach young kids how to play these instruments. “There is a great possibility that these instruments can vanish if we do not transfer the skills to the young ones. At times, I go various villages, conduct workshops and teach children how to play these instruments. I’m happy that there are young kids I’m mentoring who are deeply in love with indigenous music.”

His talent has not gone unnoticed as he has received several awards in the previous years. “I have been featured playing indigenous music instruments by musical groups like the Vhembe Heritage.” He also performed at social gatherings, government functions, at the Mapungubwe Heritage Site and last year at the Musina annual show. He was also a feature artist on Phalaphala FM and the SABC 1 television programme Shift, while playing indigenous music instruments. “I’m happy that wherever I go, people like my music and poetry and they cry for more. Those who would like to see me live on stage can come to my show at Nzhelele Harabali on 2 December.”

Maroma has taken his music career to another level by releasing his debut indigenous music album, entitled Tsimu yanga. “As a start, I only recorded three songs for the album. The songs are Vho Tshinyala, Musina Wanga and Tsimu yanga. People like my music and they are buying this album daily. This has motivated me to plan for a 10-track album to be released next year.”

Mashudu Thomas Romani is the custodian of Venda indigenous music.


Mashudu Thomas Romani.