Ngobamakhosi return from Edinburgh Military Tattoo
If you're a fan of the performing arts, one event on the international calendar you can't afford to miss is the Edinburgh Festival, where the Royal Military Tattoo takes centre stage, and "The Fringe" is precisely that, a daily programme in the city precinct of dozens of events featuring actors, musicians, playwrights, singers and comedians. In a nutshell, it's the biggest festival of its kind in the world, and the launchpad of countless big names of the entertainment industry, so securing a bed in Edinburgh's proximity is like trying to find the Cullinan diamond in the Sterkfontein Dam.
For a city whose political and religious history was wracked in turmoil, blood and intrigue, in the realms of finance and creativity, it's as fertile a playing field as anywhere on the planet. As an edifice, the foreboding turrets of Edinburgh Castle stand like no other, at the head of the city, and it's here that the 56th edition of the Tattoo is entering its final capacity week. While all of us have our parochial favourites, the one performance that has penetrated the hearts of visitors from across the globe has been that of Mooi River's traditional dance troupe, the Ngobamakhosi, the name given by King Cetewayo to the regiment that routed the British at Isandlwana in 1879. The power, the choreography and the energy has had the press corps in raptures, with throngs of spectators cheering them down the streets of Edinburgh when the curtains come down on the show each evening.
On Thursday last, the act following theirs was suspended as the international audience rose as one in thunderous appreciation for a non-stop two-and-a-half minutes: the Tattoo had never seen the likes of it. Just a week before, they were accompanied by the BBC to the home of the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, where they were the central attraction at the Lord Provost's post-Commonwealth Games celebration, holding up traffic for the duration of their show. Again, adulation reigned. This troupe, locally known as the Imbalenhle, is the resident act at Mooi River's celebrated hospitality establishment, Hartford House, which is located on South Africa's most famous racehorse stud farm, Summerhill. Hartford CEO, Cheryl Goss was thrilled: "They have exceeded our every expectation, and they've been exemplary ambassadors for the country. While the cost and effort in getting them there on relatively short notice was enormous, the appreciation and acknowledgement they received in Edinburgh has them in the "box seat" for the prized performance of the festival. Invitations to perform in Malta and Las Vegas later this year, are a tribute to the value of preserving the cultural traditions of our local people, and the best illustration of the many unique things South Africa offers both local and international travellers".
The troupe returned to Mooi River Monday morning, via King Shaka International Airport, to a well deserved, hero's welcome.