A good source of unity

Seba Kaapstad’s latest album is a library of vibrant, multiculturally infused works of art


Vae O’Neil, A & E Editor

Realistic optimism is a difficult thing to come upon nowadays; all the news is of frightening, stressful things that most have little control over, often overlooking tangible mementos that happen each day. What many do to take shelter from this anxious maelstrom is to immerse themselves in smaller, softer things, like books and films and art and music. “Konke” by Seba Kaapstad is a prime example of what to wrap yourself inside of, especially since it’s about the relationship between people, within oneself and between man and money.

Seba Kaapstad is a band with quite an unusual composition; one South African, one Swazi, and two Germans coming together to homilize a message of unity addressed to the world. Sebastian Schuster and Philip Scheibel are the two Germans, who serve as multi instrumentalists while Ndumiso Manana and Zoe Modiga drive the vocals. This quartet creates a sound that pays to heed preconceived musical genre labels; there are essences of soul, rap, pop, and jazz all present throughout the album, and different musical fingerprints can be found even within a single song. Additionally, Seba Kaapstad has African culture running deep within its bones, visible on the surface as references to sights and cities of the continent, and even entire verses sung entirely in the Zulu tongue. The vast majority of their songs take on an optimistic posture on each of their respective subjects, while also acknowledging the pain and discomforting facets of them as well; nearly all of the songs in this album are dripping with belief in one’s own strength, or belief in the listeners’ perseverance.

“Home” is a particularly piquant example of what Seba Kaapstad is fully capable of; it’s a sunny, soulful, jazzy mouthful of joy that is about staying strong through rough times and seeing through to the world’s love and fairness in the darkest of times. This song gives visions of family, love and laughter in spite of any misery that had befell. The band’s African influences come through here as well, with it being said that “Sun embraces all your skin / You’re protected by your melanin”; through this, “Home” is a large cheer for people of color, at the same time calling for rights and freedom for all, later in the chorus. Most outstandingly, the entire final third of the song is sung almost completely in Zulu, more or less praising both the good and bad that life has so far given, as it has complete confidence that everyone has potential, opportunity and purpose.

All told, “Konke” by Seba Kaapstad will surely give out any hugs and words of encouragement that have been lacking during this miserable year of ours.