Melissa Mpofu in Harare
THE Stanbic Bank Jacaranda Music Festival has shown that Zimbabwe has what it takes to host international festivals as the event that ended yesterday, was well executed and a resounding success!
From venue selection, stage setup, artiste management, time management, security, and food stalls, to entertainment, everything was on point.
Kicking off on Tuesday with workshops for creatives, the festival had the support of numerous corporates this year showing that promoters are doing something right.
Event organisers went the extra mile in ensuring that artists would benefit from the hosting of the event as they were educated about their industry through workshops that were steered by industry experts, not only from Zimbabwe but across the continent.
These included Nigerian guitarist Kunle Ayo, Metro FM’s Philani Mfikelephi, Jiggs Thorne from Swaziland’s MTN Bushfire Festival and Mantwa Chinoamadi-Mutsinya – CEO and festival producer of SA’s Joy of Jazz Festival.By so doing, organisers showed that their aim was not only to entertain audiences but to also empower the artists, in a move that was hailed by many.
At the workshops that were held in Bulawayo and Harare, artists were taught about the creative economy. Among the topics that were covered were convergence – the new normal, understanding the music business value chain, the art of curating great experiences, marketing and management of brands.
After being schooled, from Friday, it was time for artists to entertain audiences and they did so spiritedly. The event was off to a very good start if happenings on Friday were anything to go by.The acts set the tone for the event and those who performed on Saturday and Sunday continued to raise the bar high.
One thing that some event organisers may want to emulate from the Jacaranda festival was the artists’ selection. It was a carefully chosen line-up that had something for everyone.Kicking off festivities on Friday evening was Fusion 5 Mangwiro, an Afro-contemporary group popular for its Kuhope and Katarina hits.
They were followed by talented DJ Chucknosis who upped the tempo by churning out house hits. Thereafter, Shabach The Band took over and rocked crowds with their set with Unonzani hit-maker Anita Jaxson.
They warmed the stage up very well for what was to be one of the main highlights of the night, a performance by Black Motion member, DJ Murda Bongz.
He took no prisoners as he was a man on a very serious mission. With the support of his girlfriend, DJ Zinhle who was backstage cheering him on all the way, Murda Bongz aced his set.So high was his energy and sound that at one point, a power outage was experienced on the stage. Fortunately, it was quickly fixed and the party was back on track in no time.Taking over from the SA act, Enzo Ishall did not drop the bar as he belted out hit after hit and was well supported by the crowd who sang along to all of his songs.
To spice up his set, he invited some ladies from the crowd to join him on stage for a dance-off. It was exciting watching them take turns to try and win people’s votes.
Save the last for the best they say.The closing act on Friday night was DJ Zinhle. As if to thank the heavens for affording people a chance to be out again following the three-year Covid-19 lockdown, she started off her set on a laid-back tip with Senior Oat’s All in you song.
It was a very touching song that had people grooving and taking time to reflect. From there, she took things a gear up by playing favourites like Umlilo, My name is and Black Eyed Peas I gotta feeling among others.
On Saturday, it was a great family outing as the event kicked off in the afternoon with big jumping castles having been erected for kids’ enjoyment, adults included as some were spotted jumping away.
Festival goers were entertained by another star-studded line-up that included the Black Spirits Band, Feli Nandi, Jah Prayzah, Bongo Maffin and Zakes Bantwini. This was yet another amazing selection that rocked crowds.
Watching Bongo Maffin’s Jah Seed in action, it was very visible that he was happy to be performing at home and even happier to be on stage following the Covid-19 pandemic. The group took the event’s attendees down memory lane with performances of old-time hits, Thath’isgubhu, The way kungakhona, Kura Uone, Mari yephepha and more recent tracks such as Harare.
During their set, Jah Seed asked people to have a moment of silence in honour of those who died due to the pandemic. The group’s member, Speedy who does not seem to be ageing at all thrilled crowds with his performance of Lento.
Bulawayo’s finest DJ, Ryan Synth gave people an experience of the nightlife in Bulawayo as he took them on an hour-long set that had diverse genres.
A crowd favourite, Jah Prayzah was up next. And boy, did he deliver. One would have sworn that he was trying to cover up for the show in Gweru where he angered fans after failing to perform recently. He was deep into his set and visibly did not want to leave the stage as he exceeded his performance time and when the MC, radio presenter Amard tried to dismiss him, he refused, saying he would not leave the stage before performing his favourite track, Goto.
After Jah Prayzah, the legendary Zakes Bantwini took charge of the decks and rocked those with an appreciation of dance/electronic music. Most waited patiently for the artiste to churn out hits, Imali and Osama and he delivered.
Yesterday, the last day of the festival was laid back with entertainment being provided by Mbeu, Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, Victor Kunonga, Janet Manyowa, Vusa Mkhaya, The Travellers Band, Djembe Monks, and South Africa’s Zonke and DJ Fresh.
Days before the event, the organiser, Ngoma Nehosho’s Walter Wanyanya refused to call anyone a ‘headline’ act and indeed, there were no headline acts as all of the acts were good in their own respect.
All in all, people had a very good time. Considering the tough times that people are going through, event organisers showed that true to their tagline, “The music, the city, the people”, they were all about the people and creating a good vibe as patrons were allowed to bring their cooler boxes to the venue at no charge. This brought a lot of relief as people managed to have fun without worrying about breaking the bank.