BUSI MHLANGA

Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to South African and Botswanan parents Busi Mhlanga was raised with a mixture of traditions. With her grandfather being an ‘inyanga’ (traditional healer) the whole family gathered for ceremonies and celebrations where Busi would imitate the singing and dancing of her elders. Upon leaving school she joined the popular all female dance troupe of 'Black Umfolosi' which led her talents to be spotted by Zimbabwe’s most famous poet ‘the voice of the invisible’ Albert Nyathi. After 8 years of touring Africa and Europe as Albert Nyathi’s lead vocalist she relocated to the UK where opportunities arose to perform and lead Zulu song and dance workshops at major festivals like Womad and Glastonbury.  
Being one of the most recognizable female Southern African singers in the UK has led her to perform with her homeland heroes like Wazimbo, play with South African singer Zahara at Wembley arena as well as countless other performances with household African names like Hugh Masekela, Femi Kuti and The Mahotela Queens. After Nelson Mandela’s death Busi was invited to lead a performance at the House of Commons during his funeral and be part of a tribute on BBC’s The One Show. Other TV appearances include BBC 3’s ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ and Channel 4’s live ‘Sunday Brunch’ giving an insight into the history of gumboot dance for South African Heritage day.
Gumboot dance originates in the gold mines of South Africa where men were forced to work in hazardous conditions underground wading for hours in infected water. Instead of attempting to drain the mines the workers were given gumboots (wellington boots) for protection. The gold miners were forbidden from talking and as a result created a means of communication to keep morale high, send messages to each other and warn of elements of dangers like falling bricks close to your colleagues head! This ‘language’ was executed through a variety of welly slapping, thigh tapping, foot stomping and clapping. After the workers were freed, the steps they learnt in the mines became part of the new Gumboot dance form and were recognized nationally as a South African traditional dance and still celebrated today marking the end of slavery in the mines.
To keep her culture alive in the UK, Busi Mhlanga now leads troupes of Gumboot and Zulu dancers and African choirs to facilitate workshops and perform at weddings, celebrations and events. Giving a colourful insight into her vibrant heritage through songs like ‘Salulandela’ and ‘Dlalisunyawo’, Busi Mhlanga has been delighting audiences throughout the UK since 2001 with powerful performances.

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