South Africa is fast gaining a reputation for hosting some of the best arts and music festivals in the world.
True, we don’t have the instant recognition of Rio, but our Cape Town Jazz Festival has cut the umbilical cord from the North Sea Jazz Festival to become a giant event in its own right.
And the National Arts festival in Grahamstown has made the art and crafts industry accessible to everyone.
Even the smaller ones like the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival in Joburg, Oppikoppi in Limpopo and the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in Western Cape are steadily becoming popular yearly events for local and international tourists to attend.
The 10-day Mangaung African Cultural Festival (Macufe), is now known for showcasing the cream of African and international talent.
Macufe has set itself apart by continuously booking surprising headliners like US hip-hop star T-Pain one year and R&B crooner Maxwell the other. This year, it’s homegrown talent Jonathan Butler.
Happy Ntshingila, chief marketing and communication officer for the main sponsor, Absa, says: “A society’s cultural heritage is the key aspect of its identity and social life.”
That’s certainly the case at Macufe, which features everything from jazz, gospel and kwaito to hip-hop, R&B, rock and classical; as well as dance, drama, cabaret, musical theatre, poetry, fashion, fine art and traditional arts.
First held in 1997 before an audience of 30?000, the festival now attracts close to 150?000 people from South Africa, Africa and the world.
This year, the festival’s theme is “Re monateng kaofela” (We’re having a good time together).
The festival kicked off on Friday and runs until next Sunday.
According to festival director Mario Sefo: “This is an international event hosted in Mangaung for the benefit of all Free State communities. This means we expect artists from across the world to take part in this event while placing emphasis on the need for local content.”
The annual arts and culture extravaganza looks to grow bigger despite reports that the organisers were forced to cancel three regular shows due to budgetary constraints.
According to one of the organisers, the event’s budget was cut by 50%, forcing them to can the indoor jazz show, and the gospel and youth festivals.
But there is still plenty to entertain visitors.
Also, don’t miss the Macufe Cup soccer match between Bloemfontein Celtics and Kaizer Chiefs taking place at Vodacom Park next Sunday.
Arts and crafts
Visitors will get a chance to learn all about local culture through exhibitions at the arts and craft market between Monday and Friday.
The market is one of the most popular places for visitors to relax and unwind between performances.
There are displays of pottery, beadwork, metal, wire, leather, traditional fashion, glass and woodwork, traditional music and dance, traditional foods, the popular Macufe sundowner cocktails, and an entertainment area for kids.
For those looking for some theatre distraction, MaBrrr – The Musical, starring Lesego Motsepe and Winnie Khumalo, will be on stage from Monday to Friday night at the Andre Huguenet Theatre.
Dance to your tune
This year, the main festival on Saturday at the Loch Logan Rose Garden in Bloemfontein will see a host of top performers including Salif Keita of Mali, Gerald Albright from the US, Cape Town native and guitarist Jonathan Butler, Ringo Madlingozi, Afro-jazz and R&B artist Lira, and the legendary Tsepo Tshola.
Those who appreciate classical, jazz and new age music can join Swiss harp master Andreas Vollenweider, who will be kicking off his South African tour at the festival.
There will also be performances by local diva and jazz artist Sibongile Khumalo, Sama Award-winning vocalist and violinist Tshepo Mngoma, the Three Tenors, Bloem Children’s Choir and the Free State Symphony Orchestra.
The Macufe Divas Concert, which takes place on Friday at the Sand du Plessis Theatre, features four of the best local performers in jazz veteran Letta Mbulu, Lira, Wanda Baloyi and Thiwe, who will be joined on stage by the Free State Divas.
For the free and young at heart, the Macufe House Estallido will feature local artists and DJs Sox, Sbu, C’ndo, T’Bo Touch, Ba2Cada, Oskido, Black Coffee, Kent, Zinhle, Christos, Glen Lewis, Liquid Deep, Tira, Fistas, Mixwell and Vetkoek/Mahoota.
A new element has been added to the festival this year, which is sure to attract younger crowds.
The DStv Comedy Show features a line-up of some South Africa’s heavyweights in the form of Trevor Noah, Loyiso Gola, Eugene Khoza, Kagiso Lediga, Kedibone Mulaudzi, Siya B and Tall Mo.
The show will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Sand Du Plessis Theatre. Warning: you will laugh until you can’t stand it any longer!
DStv marketing manager Colleen Goodman says: “We are delighted and proud to be part of one of the biggest – if not the biggest – arts and culture festivals on the African