Mama Bavikile Ngema (b. 1951)

“Her musical voice is “an absolute treasure.” 

– Andile Khumalo, Composer

“Mama Bavikile has single-handedly inspired a new generation of women umakhweyana bow players all over south Africa.” 

– Sazi Dlamini, Bow Music Foundation Director


Born in the Nkandla district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, “MaBhengu” Mama Bavikile Ngema (b. 1951) is the world’s foremost virtuoso player on umakhweyana and umqangala (umbheleza) Nguni musical bows. A prolific composer of traditional repertory, she also performs harmonica and jaw-harp.

Learning to play by watching and imitating her sisters and cousins, Bavikile’s uniquely extended umakhweyana playing technique elicits a fourth fundamental note from the single-stringed instrument. Her acute rhythmic, melodic and contrapuntal sensibility lends a palpable, youthful vibrancy to her original compositions and interpretations of traditional Nguni repertoires.


Her doctors recently discovered a late stage cancer that is threatening her life. Help Arcomusical send her a message support from the United States. 

Help MaBhengu Now!

Mama Bavikile Ngema, the most incredible umakhweyana player I know.
Durban, South Africa. (February 2016)