It was a sublime moment when world-renowned opera performer and composer Dr Musa Nkuna, led by his 80-year-old father Ntota, joined in on an impromptu performance, with his 74-year-old mother Violet, brother Tinyiko and sister Nhlamulo.
It was the kind of hearty singing that happens as a family winds up a gathering that brought them together after a long time.
Belting out a composition by the late composer, conductor and the author of the first Tsonga novel, DC Marivate, the Nkunas – who are from Giyani in Limpopo – gave a glimpse of what it is like to be part of a musically gifted family.
Ntota’s voice bellowed in the Denisburg restaurant at Tshwane University of Technology’s main campus in the capital, ending a beautiful bonding moment of family joined by friends and the varsity’s management, and witnessed by the next generation of opera and classical singers.
It reminded us of what vice-chancellor Tinyiko Maluleke said in his welcome speech earlier: “Born of a father like Mr Leslie Nkuna, who is a music composer, and a mother Violet Nkuna, who is a gifted chorister in her own right, Musa stood no chance of escaping the hold of music.”
Musa is married to his school sweetheart, clinical psychologist Tintswalo Nkuna.
They have three children aged 21, 16 and 13 who were born and raised in Germany.
He dedicated his doctoral thesis – titled Bicultural Voice in Three Works, which he did with the Nelson Mandela University – to his four grandparents, whom he said only one lived long enough to see him fulfil his dreams.
Musa, who graduated in absentia with a doctor of music in composition last year due to travel restrictions, based one of his compositions on the quotations of Desmond Tutu on hope and forgiveness.
“My maternal grandmother was 81 years old when she was allowed to vote for the first time,” he said, speaking of South Africa’s dark past and its present that gave him the opportunities he now has, but that also has a lot of challenges to overcome.
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