Musician, songwriter, and cultural intellectual Dr Thokozani Mhlambi, returns to Cape Town next month with this latest musical production: Hail to the King! A Musical Story

Musician, songwriter, and cultural intellectual Dr Thokozani Mhlambi, returns to Cape Town next month with this latest musical production: Hail to the King! A Musical Story
Thokozani Mhlambi

Fresh from a successful tour of the USA and Canada, Mhlambi brings a new production to town: a celebration of Africa’s rich heritage and artistic excellence. Hail to the King promises to be an enjoyable performance for the whole family, as it incorporates elements of storytelling, classical music and African izibongo poetry.

Dr Mhlambi is an honorary research fellow at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative. Written, performed and produced by this multi-talented musician, this hot-property musical genius is ready to take the stage at the Baxter Theatre, a 3-day must-see show from the 4 to 6 April 2024.

The 37-year-old KwaZulu-Natal composer is known for incorporating art with music, having held an artistic residency at the prestigious Cite International des Arts in Paris, France, and having his music used as a soundtrack for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In this concert, Mhlambi presents a body of work fusing African and classical elements. It features himself on baroque cello and voice, plus other orchestral instruments. The cast also includes a vocal ensemble.

Hail to the King! A Musical Story is based on a site visit to the ancient Zulu capital of King Dingane. The story is a retrieval of the aura of the ancient capital of King Dingane, the Zulu emperor, in the 1830s. His capital, Umgungundlovu, was a site of fascination for African communities and European settlers alike. Reports of the capital travelled as far as the kingdom of Basutho, the Cape and many other places.

Mhlambi said his compositions to be showcased culminate years of work researching and developing the music. “This work was inspired by my involvement in the Five Hundred Year Archive project at UCT. For the music, I had to look at the works of historical predecessors like the late icons Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo and BP Tyamzashe – who were great composers in the African tradition, fusing the old and new, African & modern elements, towards a whole new sound,” he added.

Following a Fellowship in Germany, Mhlambi presents a suite of new music composed for himself on the baroque cello, plus other instrumentalists and vocalists.

The work is made up of three main sections, including meeting of the elephants, the unveiling of the royal woman, and the king’s dance.

“This is the first arrangement of my music for a full string ensemble and vocal consort. Cape Town people are in for a treat with me playing cello, singing as well as directing the ensemble, while the important historical message is told on stage,” said Mhlambi.

The work is proudly supported by UCT, the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Afropolitan Explosiv.

So what makes the show different: “This is a full theatrical-dramatic production, which is different from Mhlambi usual offering of music. It shows my vision on a larger scale, which helps give visual imagery to the musical work unfolding. The show is highly interactive and uses lighting design,” said Mhlambi.


DATE: 4-6 April 2024

VENUE: Golden Arrow Studio, Baxter Theatre

TIME: 20:00pm

TICKETS:, and are R130, special price for students and pensioners
Direct booking link for tickets:

For more details about Thokozani, visit his website: or on Facebook:, Instagram: @thokozani_mhlambi


  • Dr Thokozani Mhlambi is not your usual musician. Not only does he play the cello, sing and compose his own songs, but Mhlambi uses his art and exhibitions to convey African stories/philosophies.
  • Born in Madadeni, KwaZulu-Natal, after fulfilling music studies in South Africa & Sweden, Mhlambi received his PhD in Music at the University of Cape Town. In South Africa, he has showcased work at leading platforms such as the National Arts Festival, Soweto Theatre and the Playhouse—where he drew audiences from all walks of life.
  • In 2023, Mhlambi was invited to be part of the Reimagining America Program 2023, where he worked with youth string-players from the city of Providence (Rhode Island)
  • In 2024, Mhlambi performed in Atlanta. His show was rated as the best-gig-of-the-week by Arts Atlanta news.

He has also been a visiting lecturer at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver (Canada), where he performed at the World Arts Centre. He has performed at venues such as Elastic Arts in Chicago, Prachtwerk in Berlin, Minneapolis, New Orleans (Tulane), São Paulo, Maputo (Mozambique) and New York.

  • Recently, Mhlambi’s rendition of Lizalise Idinga Lakho by Tiyo Soga (from his debut album Zulu Song Cycle), was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Mhlambi was an invited contributor to the roaming academy of the Dutch Art Institute, an itinerant program fostering various creative practices at the intersection of art & theory.
  • In 2020, Mhlambi was selected as an Artist-in-Residence at Cite International Des Arts in Paris, supported by the Institut Français. He used the time to connect with artists from different parts of the world, specifically the African continent, and to develop new creative work.
  • Currently Mhlambi is working on building a digital repository of early African composers such as Enoch Sontonga, John & Nokutela Dube, Reuben Caluza, to mention a few. This is a project which is a collaboration between the Killie Campbell Africana Library (at UKZN), the Five Hundred Year Archive Project (at UCT) and Afropolitan Explosiv.
Dr Thokozani Mhlambi
Dr Thokozani Mhlambi