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Song and dance the order of Africa Day at Joburg Theatre Print E-mail
29 May 2017


When Africans celebrate, they do so in song and dance.

This was also the case at the weekend when some of the continent's leading musicians came together at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein to mark the 54th anniversary of Africa Day.

Under the theme “Building a Better Africa and a Better World in the Year of Oliver Tambo”, the star-studded concert was also a commemoration in advance of the forthcoming Youth Day on June 16, the day 41 years ago when hundreds of Soweto learners were killed by apartheid police for marching in protest against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools.

The two-day musical extravaganza, which started on Friday May 26, was brought by Joburg City Theatres – a City of Johannesburg entertainment entity – and the national Department of Arts and Culture.

The showpiece kicked off with a performance by legendary jazz drummer Paco Sery of Ivory Coast and Afro Beat, a highly acclaimed group of international musicians consisting of Etienne Mbappe of Cameroon on bass; Aly Keita of Mali on balafon; Cheick Tidiane Seck, also of Mali, on keyboards; Nicholas Vally from Italy on keyboards; and Danny Marta of France on guitar.

Lights were switched off and Sery did his magic on the drums. The Grammy-award winner has intriguing and brilliant drum-playing skills. It showed why in 1998 he scooped the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category at the Grammys.

Mbappe had the audience singing and dancing in the aisles as he performed Nayodee, a song about immigration, which was poignant as many Africans live in the diaspora because of immigration.

A favourite with the audience was Keita on balafon. The sweet sounds that flowed from this beautiful traditional instrument spoke to one’s inner soul. Keita took complete control of the instrument with his unique style of play.

The audience was in for a treat after the interval when Mahube, a band consisting of musicians from Southern Africa, took to the stage.

Introducing them was renowned saxophonist Steve Dyer. On guitar was Zimbabwean-born, award-winning producer Louis Mhlanga. A poem calling on Africa to rise was recited by vocalists Siya Makuzeni (South African), Hope Masike (Zimbabwean).

Mozambican Xixel Langa had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. Her unique dancing skills showed her versatility as a performer and had everyone ululating.

Masike took members of the audience on a personal journey when she played the mbira. You would swear she was possessed when she performed a song about how Zimbabwe gained its independence.

When Mahube performed the hit Pata Pata, made internationally famous by the late Mirriam Makeba, concertgoers could not help it but jump to their feet.

The evening was concluded by the Parlotones, a popular South African rock band. The sound from their guitars reverberated throughout the theatre as they dished out famous hits such as Colourful, Giant Mistake and Push Me to the Floor

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