By Nomali Cele
When you take music and add Africans, you have an instant good time. Nobody knows how to revel quite like we do. It’s just as well that the African arts and culture calendar is not low on festivals, which range from a few days of fun to week-long celebrations.
The best-kept secret about festivals is the boost they give to local communities. While music and art enthusiasts party the days away enjoying the latest and the best in music, theatre, dance and crafts, the communities who live in the regions where these festivals are held, get a boost. From providing accommodation to food and local experiences, the communities are the heart that drives each festival.
These are the festivals you can still attend this year:
MTN Bushfire (Swaziland)
Date: May 27 – 29
This year Swaziland’s signature music and arts festival turns 10 and, to celebrate, promises an amazing line up of artists. Held at House on Fire, which is located outside of Mbabane, Swaziland, MTN Bushfire is sure to ignite your wanderlust and make you want to see more of the region.
The 2016 MTN Bushfire lineup will include arts from the SADC Region such as South Africa’s DJ Zinhle and Beatenberg, Swaziland’s Fanaza and Ghana’s Blitz the Ambassador and many others from around the world.
National Arts Festival (South Africa)
June 30 – July 10
South Africa’s oldest festival, which has been around for 42 years is the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. It offers attendees art and culture on a silver platter. All tastes are catered to: comedy, theatre, music, dance (everything from contemporary African to ballet) and visual art exhibitions.
The best thing about the Grahamstown Arts Festival is that, due to the variety of shows and artists showcasing, there’s a surprise waiting for you around every corner. You may go for the comedy – Skhumba’s runaway success has been proof that Afropolitans always enjoy a good laugh – and end up having the performance by a dance troupe from the township win your heart.
Lake of Stars (Malawi)
Date September 30 – October 2
For three whole days, the Lake Malawi lakeshore is home to revellers looking for the next and best in music and art. While rooted in the African sound, artists from outside the continent are invited to grace the three stages that make up the festival’s music portion. In 2015, they had over 90 acts perform across three music stages.
If you camp out on the lakeshore, you can expect to hear musicians who are Kora All Africa Music Award winners and radio staples. Since Lake of Stars began in 2003, it has contributed significantly to Malawian tourism.
Date: October 10 – 15
Held during the week of music legend Fela Kuti’s (1938 – 1997) birthday, Felabration was first held in 1998, a year after he died. Felabration was created with one mission: to celebrate the music and legacy of the iconic Afrobeats artist. It’s also a means to keep his legacy and sound alive.
Camp chair culture in the context of festivals can do a great deal of good. It can foster an interest in the arts, supporting African talent and it’s a great excuse to travel the continent. Go out there and explore your continent’s arts offerings this year.