Local and international performing artists will unite in song to showcase diverse culture during the Mangaung African Cultural Festival (Macufe).As a project of the Free State government pioneered by the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, this year’s festival will take place in Bloemfontein from 4 to 13 October. The celebration will include live jazz, gospel and hip-hop performances, whilst also making provision for visual crafts. Regarded a vehicle of social cohesion, the festival is expected to live up to its reputation to put on display the best talents from Mangaung and around the globe to offer patrons an unforgettable experience.Home-brewed sounds – local is lekker – will be offered by a blend of established acts with the likes of the legendary Tsepo Tshola, once the anchor of the iconic group Sankomota from Lesotho, expected to perform songs like “Now or never” and “Stop the War”. Known as The Village Pope, his career in music spans over 40 years, as solo artist, as well as in collaboration with various performing artists in both gospel and Afro-jazz.Armed with a distinct naturally hoarse voice, Tshola has worked with bands like Stimela, led by the late vocalist Ray Phiri, producing thought-provoking songs like “Trouble in the land of plenty”. Gospel groups he has worked with include Joyous Celebration.Other local stars billed for Macufe are Thandiswa Mazwai, Jaziel Brothers, Vusi Nova and Sjava. International stars are Kirk Whalum and Deborah Cox, both from the US. They will headline the main concert. Patrons of the festival can expect an enthralling treat by Whalum and Judith Sephuma, joined in an orchestral jazzathon performance. Whalum, an award-winning saxophonist, is no stranger to South African audiences. He has recorded a series of well-received solo albums and film soundtracks, with music ranging from pop and R&B to smooth jazz. His musical accomplishments have brought him a total of 12 Grammy nominations. Cox is listed at number 23 on Billboard’s list of Greatest of All Time Top Dance Club Artists, is an eight-time Juno Award nominee, the winner of four awards and is often cited as Canada’s top R&B artist. This year marks 22 years of the existence of the festival and 21 years of its successful staging, having skipped 1999. Patrons can purchase tickets at Computicket outlets and visit www.macufe.co.za.