As a fitting finale to the celebration of 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, in partnership with Awesome Africa Festival Productions, is set to host the Awesome Africa International Arts Festival featuring a host of world-renowned performers across a number of genres.
The festival takes place over two days in two different venues, kicking off with a Gala Concert at The Playhouse in Durban on Sunday, April 26 and followed by a full day at the Sibusisiwe Community Hall and Lovelife Centre in Mandeni on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast the next day.
For the Playhouse concert, doors open at 5pm and the concert begins at 6pm. Headlining the festival is the legendary Salif Keita from Mali, the “Golden Voice of Africa” whose place in the pantheon of African music has been well documented and revered. He performs with his dynamic 13 piece band from Dakar.
The award winning South African hip hop artist Khuli Chana in collaboration with MuzArt will also perform at both venues. Khuli is a multitalented musician well known for his Motswako rap style which includes street-talk and highly influential messages in Setswana, English and other South African languages.
MuzArt is a five piece musical collective that has collaborated with noteworthy musician.
Awesome Africa has become known for its unique collaborations in the past, and this year’s festival is no exception.
The “Freedom Suite” collaboration, which will perform at both venues, brings together the extraordinary talents of South African living legend Ray Phiri together with the “Jimi Hendrix of the kora” N’Faly Kouyate from Guinea in West Africa, who besides fusing storytelling, jazz, dance and traditional griot music is also known for his collaborations with the Afro-Celt Sound System which blend Irish Celtic music with that of West African countries. The powerful, trance-like Drummers of Burundi from Central Africa will also form part of this unique collaboration.
Other featured artists are Christine Salem, the maloya superstar from Reunion Island, award-winning guitar maestros Nibs van der Spuy and Guy Buttery, the alluring maskandi duo Qadasi and Maqhinga Radebe, and a 72nd birthday homage to Steve Fataar who will perform with master Cape Town guitarist Errol Dyers. Pride of the Zulu will also serenade the audience with their accapella styled traditional melodies.
The Mandeni festival kicks off at 11am on Monday April 27 with a free business management workshop for up and coming artists as well as relevant arts practitioners. Topics that will come under the spotlight include; performing platforms and funding, contracts and copyright, studio etiquette and the value of quality sound, the digital freeway and international marketing and identity.
A broad spectrum of genres will be represented and the illustrious visitors to Mandeni will include Ray Phiri, N’Faly Kouyate, The Drummers of Burundi, the ground breaking DJ Websta, Holly — known for her “Kasi” vibes, house music and crowd rocking stage performances.
“Besides many pro-active socio-economic elements, the Festival commemorates Freedom Day by linking a concert in Durban with a project to take the music and the arts back to the people — in essence straight into the communities who have supported our fight for freedom and democracy.” says MEC for Arts & Culture Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Sapetha.
“This important synergy also addresses the vital aspects of social cohesion and nation building in our country. No longer will iconic events and artists be the domain only of the big cities. While offering our local artists a platform to showcase their talents on an international stage, this event also serves to bring a signature event to Durban as well as helping to boost tourism levels and create jobs in the Mandeni area.”
For more information see the Awesome Festivals website.