Gaborone, Botswana — March 21, 2023 — A celebrated marimba band from Southern Africa will share joyful sounds while on tour in New York and Massachusetts from April 3-17, 2023. Composed of 13 accomplished teen musicians hailing from Maru-a-Pula School in Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone, the band will perform traditional and contemporary selections from its upbeat repertoire. Venues include high schools, middle schools, and art and music spaces. Deerfield Academy will host a concert at the Hess Auditorium on Sunday, April 16, at 7 pm.
“As we emerge from this grim pandemic, there’s no better time to raise a joyful noise,” says band director Mr. Laone Thekiso, adding, “We used to tour more regularly, but COVID-19 put a painful pause on our biannual performances in the U.S.” The band will delight audiences with these traditional Southern African instruments constructed from wooden bars arranged above hollow gourds that set off resonant tones when struck with mallets. Often compared to xylophones, marimbas give rise to deeper and richer tones and are often played in groups with driving syncopation and cadence. “It’s virtually impossible to sit still when this band plays. Believe me, I’ve tried,” reports Mr. Nick Evans, Maru-a-Pula’s principal, who will travel with the band. He adds, “This band has been working hard and will set your feet dancing.”
Performances will benefit Maru-a-Pula’s commitment to funding full scholarships for orphans and vulnerable children, including refugees, whose families could otherwise not afford tuition and related costs. Reflecting on the opportunity to join the fundraising tour in the U.S., band member Bodibana Bahuma says, “For us, this is fun. It doesn’t feel like work. But the fact that we can benefit others, improve their livelihood and that of their family? Well, it makes me incredibly happy!”
Maru-a-Pula, whose Setswana name means “clouds of rain” – a welcome sight to behold in a thirstland context – is perched on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and is a co-educational, independent day and boarding secondary school. Founded in 1972, the nonprofit school was dedicated to multiracial ideals and community outreach in an era when South Africa, just a few miles away, was in the cruel throes of apartheid. The school now nurtures its 800 students – two-thirds from Botswana, one-third from 65+ other countries – to be deeply committed to serving their communities locally and globally.
For the full Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band tour itinerary, visit www.maruapula.org.