Lebogang Rasethaba is saving culture, one story at a time

Johannesburg – Over the past few months, film director Lebogang Rasethaba spent time with two matriarchs – award-winning Xhosa musician and storyteller Madosini Latozi Mpahleni and Ouma Katrina Esau, the latter can fluently speak the near-extinct Nluu Khoisan language.

He then documented his journey in a heart-warming short film titled Last Stories of Culture to preserve these cultural gems.

Esau’s wish is to save her language from being lost forever. Mpahleni, popularly known as Madosini, tells of her efforts to pass on her gift of playing traditional music instruments, “umrhube” and “uhadi”, to the next generations.

Working with Castle Milk Stout, 38-year-old Rasethaba from Soweto captured the stories of these two women. “The last few months have been a rewarding experience for me as a film director.

I got an opportunity to partner with an iconic brand that is telling stories that really matter and are at the risk of disappearing,” said Rasethaba.

Khensani Mkhombo brand manager for the beer brand, said for centuries African stories and history had not been documented, relying only on the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly to orally relay the history.

“We found two stories, led by two matriarchs: Ouma Katrina Esau and uMama Madosini Mpahleni. Ouma Katrina is the last person left in the world who can fluently speak the Nluu language, a language that is over 25 000 years old.

UMama Madosini is the greatest living umrhube and uhadi player, an instrument that carries so much of our African history.

It goes without saying how urgent it is for us to preserve these kinds of stories because they carry so much of our history, if we lose them, we are indeed losing our heritage,” said Mkhombo.

Rasethaba said it was a huge responsibility to tell people’s stories authentically and give them their flowers while they are alive.

Mkhombo said endangered cultural practices were high on the agenda of consumers’ concerns, and her company created a platform to encourage the conservation of African cultures.

The short film, Last Stories of Culture, is available online to watch for free.

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