African teen “chilling” for six months with Kokopelli

Mxolisi, our exchange choristerAn 18-year-old singer from South Africa is in Edmonton for a six-month exchange with renowned local youth choir Kokopelli. Mxolisi Lindelani Magagula arrived in January, but he felt like part of Kokopelli weeks before he stepped off the plane.

“Even before I came here, people were on Facebook, or Skyping,” says Magaula, who answers to the two-letter nickname Mx.

Mx got a kick out of Alberta’s winter weather—despite coming here straight from South Africa’s summer. “The first couple of months, it was very exciting—to walk out, with the snow falling.” That said, his new tolerance has limits: “When it hit spring, and it was still snowing, I was, like, this has to end!”

Mx was born and raised in Swaziland, and moved to South Africa as an adolescent to attend school. He fell in love with choral music, and currently belongs to University of Pretoria Youth Choir. “Kokopelli is very much the same as my youth choir back home,” says Mx. “The charisma, the family, and the closeness are all the same.”

Mx looks forward to taking Kokopelli back with him to South Africa for a month-long tour this summer (one Kokopelli member, Sidney M'Sahel, will remain in Pretoria as a return exchange chorister). “We’re going to places where I started off my music,” Mx says.

The exchange is the latest chapter in Kokopelli’s long-time attachment to Africa. Kokopelli has always been famous for its African music, singing, and dancing, and this summer’s tour marks the choir’s third trip to the continent.

Exchanges like this prove the adage that it’s a small world, says Kokopelli’s Artistic Director Scott Leithead. “Music has such power to bring people together. Mx has already given our choir so much, and I hope the feeling’s mutual!”