Soweto String Quartet

Established in 1978, Soweto String Quartet (SSQ) is well known for their elegant, African soul sound that has made them popular locally and internationally. SSQ’s music is beloved by many and stirs feelings of delight and sentimentality in fans around the world.

The group is comprised of Sandile Khemese, first violinist and musical director; Thami Khemese, second violinist; Makhosini Mnguni, viola and Themba Mashobane, Cello.

Their debut album, ‘Zebra Crossing’, was released in 1994. During this time, South Africa was transitioning from apartheid into democracy. While their latest offering was released in 2020 in collaboration with Thammy Mdluli. All in all, the music of SSQ brings a modern twist on Classical, Jazz, Gospel and African music, which has made them popular with fans from diverse backgrounds.


The story opens with three young boys trundling down Soweto’s dusty roads in the turbulent 60s.

Armed with attitude, violins and cellos, targeted with jeers, sniggers and taunts from the locals, the Khemese brothers ventured bravely to music lessons. Forbidden by their parents to hang out on the hostile streets, the boys cut their teeth in African choral music and took to playing those funny Euro instruments, mastering them with a natural born ease. The seed had been sown.

In 1978 the dusty road began to clear. Soweto String Quartet was born comprising of Sandile Khemese (1st Violin), Richard Mantu (2nd Violin), Joshua Thelele (Viola) and Reuben Khemese (Cello). In 1979 Soweto String Quartet (SSQ) was invited to Aberdeen in Haddo House, Scotland, to perform for Lady Aberdeen. This was one of the greatest chances which put the Quartet on the international map. In 1980 Sandile Khemese and Richard Mantu got a scholarship to attend music studies at the Dartington College of Arts in England. In 1982 they attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester until 1986.