I emigrated to the USA from South Africa in 1970, and first heard the tunes from Ipi Thombi -- as it was called then -- in a NYC disco some five or six years later. Then shortly afterward, saw the first stage show live at NYC's Harkness Theater, just before anti-apartheid activists shut it down, throwing the black South African cast and crew out of work. Irony, no? Since then, I have never been able to get its music out of my mind. So I bought the first album mostly featuring Margaret Singana ... then the second double album of the show. Both albums are now almost worn through. Then recently, I happened to catch a glimpse of a familiar scene as I surfed past PBS -- and clicked right back to find myself in the middle of a riotous river of swirling color and African harmonies (unmistakable, and unlike any other!) and saxophones and drums and ankle bracelets and movement (you better BELIEVE we got rhythm!) and almost the SMELL of Africa, even ... and a rush of memories like a blow to the chest. It pins you back to the couch, this show does, and never lets you go. Someone, somewhere, noted that if Ipi nThombi was not already the national opera of South Africa, then it ought to be; and that's true. Is it an odd thing that this sensitive glimpse into the African soul, this great tuneful outburst of black African exuberance was written by two white women? Not if you're South African, no: southern Africa's in your DNA. Watch "Ipi nTombi" and understand.