Nostalgia, friends at the Cape’s jazz festival
(This article was published in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, on April 3 2016.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
When local reggae band Dr Victor & The Rasta Rebels performed Eddy Grant’s Gimme Hope Jo’Anna we could not continue our conversation about who buys local visual art and which artists are being bought.
A Cape Town-based visual artist, his Chinese friend who works for an opera company and myself ran to the Manenberg stage where the band was performing on Friday night. The crowd was singing along to every line.
“This is the song of our democracy!” I declared.
“They were good for 1994,” said the visual artist with a laugh.
Okay, that song wasn’t recorded in 1994 – the year South Africa was reborn as a democracy – but it was around the early 1990s when the whole country was hopeful about our shifting landscape.
It was a song we remembered from our childhood, when our country got a new national anthem and loads of we-are-free songs captured an exhilarating era.
Think about another one of those songs, Vicky Sampson’s ‘My African Dream’, and you get the nostalgia we were channeling.
And so the annual two-day Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which concluded last night at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, had probably been a universe for countless personal-historical moments.
Friday night belonged though to Mali’s Amadou & Mariam, the blind singing couple who have been married forty years, still traveling the world with their African rock beats.
Without moving much on stage, standing side by side, the couple moved thousands of fans gathered at the Kippies stage.
Having lived off their music at some point, it was near unbelievable that they were actually standing in front of my eyes. Singing those songs. Live.
And as usual, we were all running into friends from all over the country as the CTICC became a chorus of where-have-you-been hugs. We always joke that half of Johannesburg is in Cape Town for the jazz festival weekend.
Aging South African singers Dorothy Masuka and Abigail Kubeka had fans dancing and roaring too at the Kippies stage on Friday night. Penny whistleblower Lemmy Mabaso showed his lungs can still produce the goods when he shared the stage with the ‘Legendary Ladies in Song’, as their performance was billed.
Fans of American singers Sisters With Voices and Angie Stone turned up to cement that experience on their Facebook and personal timelines. Selfies were as usual the defining we-were-there factor.
There are too many other performers to mention in this snap review – 43 artists in performed for 37,000 fans across five stages.
By the time it all fizzled out, everybody was bound to walk away with those little moments of personal history at ‘Africa’s Grandest Gathering’.