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Quartet from the South Africa shares the story of how they got to Astana and why they are photographed 50 times a day


Quartet from the South Africa shares the story of how they got to Astana and why they are photographed 50 times a day

Soweto String Quartet

Sandile Khemese, 60 years old — musical director, violinist
Thansanga Khemese, 54 years old — musician, violinist
Makhosini Meshak Mnguni, 52 years old — musician, viola player
Themba Machobane, 30 years old — musician, cellist

About the music band

Our quartet was established in 1978, almost 40 years ago. In the initial composition, we had three brothers and our friend. During this period, many things have happened: someone left to study, but returned back, someone became a member of the group, passing through competitions. We play different music and we already released eight albums. We write new songs, but we also play covers of other musicians.


We were invited to become part of EXPO-2017, to perform on the AfricaPlaza stage. We signed a contract for a month and a half, but unfortunately, before our arrival here, we did not know about the existence of Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, thanks to technologies and Google, where we found the necessary information. By the arrival here, we saw that Astana is a beautiful, developing city; especially nightlife here is always fun.

About Astana and EXPO-2017


We visited "Khan Shatyr", also were in the theater "Astana Opera" — a very beautiful building. Temba is the youngest member, so he visited several bars and clubs: Tarantino, Goodbar, and ICON. The nightlife is rich, but we work a lot and just want to rest on the weekends. We do not have much time to explore the city.

People in this region are not used to seeing black people, so they look at us with the question: "Who are these immigrants?". Everyone wants take photos with us all the time, no matter where we are. We have limited own personal space, but the locals can be understood, for the reason that some of them see us for the first time. It is still difficult to talk with people, as not everyone understands English.


Makosini Meshak Mnguni. I will never forget, when we just arrived to Astana, people began to touch my hair with curiosity. I did not understand anything, but people were delighted. I will tell my grandchildren that I went to a country where people have never seen a black man and did not touch his hair.

We were not shocked, but surprised that many of them saw people like us for the first time. This is a good opportunity for Kazakhs to learn more about us. We also had chance to know many musicians from other countries. Now we have many friends around the world.


The mentality of the inhabitants of South Africa and Kazakhstan is different, but the music brings us together, because everyone there speaks the same language.

In Astana, we tried horsemeat, we liked it, and we tried bauyrsaki. At the birthday of a friend, we tried Kazakh tea, local vegetables. People in Kazakhstan are very hospitable.


We can say that staying in Astana is a crazy experience. Since we were born, we have never photographed so much. We were photographed everywhere, but in Kazakhstan most of all. We were photographed more than 50 times a day. It seems to me that we are becoming more popular than the President is. Overall, it was amazing; we got many positive emotions. We will remember only good things about Kazakhstan.


Once a woman talked to us, she came from the south in order to visit EXPO-2017. She brought mother, grandmother and relatives with her. I was surprised on what she did for her family. EXPO-2017 gathered many people on its territory and it is wonderful. It seems to me that EXPO-2017 fulfilled the main goal — to bring the whole world to Astana and show them the country.

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