About Khatisa Chavalala

Xitsonga music legend Khatisa Chavalala died in 2009 at the age of 79 but she is still living through her music.

The legend who was the sole composer, dancer and lead singer for her band Khatisa Chavalala and The Queens, was the first Shangaan / Xitsonga female artist and she died at the pinnacle of her music success.

No one has emerged to replace her in her music genre.

She has received many certificates, trophies and awards in her illustrious career.

This is despite the fact that she was illiterate and never saw the inside of a class room.

Amongst the host of awards she received is the Living Legend Award from the Limpopo Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the Mapungubwe Award.

Following her death another legendary musician, General Daniel Shirinda, who has also since died, bemoaned the fact that she died without having had a national honour despite her enormous contribution to the arts and to gender activism.

Shirinda said it would not be possible to replace her.

Chavalala, of Greenfarm Village in the Collins Chabane Local municipality in the Vhembe District in Limpopo dominated the music scene over four decades.

She was the first female artist North of Polokwane to record with a big company like Gallo Records.

She later recorded with Wea Records which later became Tusk Music.

In the seventies when Xitsonga music groups used to hold music festivals at venues like Jabulani Amphitheatre in Soweto, Khatisa Chavalala was the only woman who led her group and stood herself against male groups.

She composed one of her hits Nqambi ya wansati yi nga deleriwi (I must not be looked down upon because I am a woman artist).

In most of her songs she urged women to stand up and not have inferiority complex because of their gender.

Khatisa Chavalala’s band was known throughout the country and she performed in areas such as Saulsville, Soweto, Soshanguve, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Munghana Lonene FM radio station has also honoured her several times with certificates and trophies and has also given her The Living Legend Award.

This is on top of several trophies and certificates that she received in her career

He CD released posthumously is still selling in Limpopo and is also receiving regular air play on several radio stations, particularly Munghana Lonene FM and community radio stations such as Hlanganani FM, Phalaborwa FM, Mala FM 101, Giyani Community Radio (GCR) and Vhembe FM.

It is remarkable that over nine years after her death she is still dominating her type of music and a successor is not seen coming.  This is the legend that deserves the highest honour such as the Ikhamanga Award in Silver.

A true traditional artist, Chavalala played xingomana (traditional drum) and mhalamhala (blowhorn) and her music has no western influences.

This is the reason it must be preserved for future generations.

A philanthropist of note, she educated many children from poor backgrounds and also looked after many poor people.

She is survived by her only daughter Elizabeth and Hlamalani her only granddaughter who is a mother of two and a school teacher.

The family is still promoting her music and that is why a Foundation has been formed to continue her rich legacy.

By Benson Ntlemo