|Article by Ogova Ondego
Published April 24, 2007
A festival that seeks to empower young musicians in southern Africa is set to run in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 24-27, 2007. Targeting musicians aged 15-25 years in all genres, the 8th InterRegional Festival of Music Crossroads Southern Africa will bring together performers from Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in a four-day celebration of ethnic, traditional, pop, rock, hip-hop and other forms of music in the region. OGOVA ONDEGO reports.
This annual showcase of what is considered Southern Africa’s best young musical performers, says press officer Kate Declerck, is part of year-round programme operated by Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI), said to be the largest youth music network in the world.
The event kicks off with the final rounds of the Zimbabwe National Competition on May 24 and 25 at Harare Gardens followed by the InterRegional Festival on May 26 at Glamis Arena and ends with a public concert at Chinhoyi Caves featuring the bands from the 8th InterRegional Festival as well as winning bands from previous years and international guest performers on May 27.
Several workshops on equipment (using PA systems, microphone techniques, mixer tables), stage awareness (communication, presence and presentation), instrument training, band management, artistic development (creation, improvisation, musical structures and arrangements) and Relationship Workshops (including HIV information and discussions), will also be conducted alongside the concerts.
Sound engineer Marco Gudanski from Couleur Café will run the workshops for young sound engineers who will join the Couleur Café sound team June 2007 for further training and work experience.
“Using music as the unparalleled medium to reach out to young people, the MCSA programme aims at improving the self-awareness and social inclusion of young African individuals and to become a resource for developing the music infrastructure in the target countries,” Declerck says. She adds “the programme aims at further developing existing festivals, workshops, HIV/AIDS prevention activities and young women’s participation, establishing independent national organisations through capacity building training while further emphasising professional training, promotion and touring.”
Music Crossroads Southern Africa (MCSA) is said to have involved more than 28,000 musicians and reached more than 600,000 people since its inception in 1995.
Saying MCSA has developed not only into the largest cultural programme in Sub-Saharan Africa but also the most important youth empowerment programme in Africa, Declerck adds MCSA winners are rewarded with international tours, performances, music equipment and technical skills.
“During its 10 years of existence,” Declerck says, “the MCSA programme has helped many young talented artists to launch their careers. Such artists include Konga Vibes (Malawi, 2006 IRF winner); Afrikali (Tanzania, 2005 IRF winner); Bongo Love, the OYA Theatre Group (Tanzania, 2004 IRF winner); and Nyacha, Liyana, Nfithe, Kapa Dech (Mozambique, 1997 IRF winner), who have gone on to tour internationally.”
Tanzania’s Afrikali, adds SAPHIA NGALAPI in Dar es Salaam, are preparing to release an eight-track album in August 2007. Some of the songs on the recording are Ngatimukamba, Makoe, Sangulu, and Shikujose.
OYA Theatre, on the other hand, have a 14-song album titled World Music of Tanzania. They are preparing to release a second album in June 2007.
Just like Tanzanian Afrikali that played 40 international tours following their win at the 2005 InterRegional Festival, Malawian Konga Vibes are scheduled to tour Europe June 7-July 28, 2007. They will perform at Couleur Café in Belgium and Festival Mundial in Tilburg, The Netherlands, among other places.
“Konga Vibes creates a contagious music mix, exciting and utterly dance-friendly. The band members come from Area 32 & 33 of the Lilongwe townships. The lyrics of their songs visualise the naked reality of their everyday life, carrying however, a message of hope,” Declerck says.
She says the aim of MCSA is to improve the self-awareness and social inclusion of young Africans in helping develop the music infrastructure in the countries where MCSA operates. For instance, she says, “Music Crossroads has identified and groomed young musicians like Mathias Bangure who have now made it musically and become national household names in Zimbabwe.”
Reaching out to both rural and urban youth, Music Crossroads Southern Africa is supported by “UNESCO, SIDA and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its success as a youth empowerment platform” that helps in improving youth self-esteem through performance opportunities, fighting HIV/AIDS through participant workshops, and in encouraging young women to assert themselves as performers.
Dhow Music Academy Wins
Meanwhile Dhow Countries Music Academy has won a Zanzibar TiGo Music Award prize for its ‘outstanding contribution to the development of the Zanzibar Music Scene’. The awards ceremony was held at Bwawani Hotel on the East African Spice Island on March 10, 2007.
Other awardees were:
CHAT Charts Way Into Oblivion
Chaguo la Teeniez (CHAT) Music Awards in Kenya have just earned themselves the notoriety and barbs that saw ArtMatters.Info write off South Africa-based KORA All Africa Music Awards (see http://www.artmatters.info/?articleid=188) and Kisima Music Awards of Kenya (see http://www.artmatters.info/?articleid=198).
While KORA Americanised, politicised and commercialised what had been touted as an African awards scheme and declared people who had not even recorded an album as “best musician in Africa” besides giving awards meant for female musicians to their male counterparts, Kisima organisers goofed by awarding themselves and giving awards to wrong people.
CHAT, held at Kenyatta International Conference Centre in mid April 2007, not only belittled Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s international achievement by naming a younger rapper (Jua Cali) Teeniez Role Model instead of conservationist Prof Maathai but also demonstrated their ignorance by naming a musician who has been on the scene for 11 years (Abbas Kubaff aka Jerry Doobies) Teeniez Surprise Artist and another (Chiwawa)-he’s been performing for five years-Teeniez Fast Rising Star.
Organisers of CHAT must get back to the drawing board and determine where they want to go or achieve before their award scheme gets to the dustbin of history.
Koinange Street Carnival Brings Guantanamo Bay & Auschwitz to Nairobi CBD
Never in my not-so-long life had I ever heard of people paying for a street carnival; not even at the Nairobi centenary celebrations in 1999 were we ever asked to pay a cent to witness it. However this perception changed on April 7, 2007 with the so-called Koinange Street Carnival in the central business district of the East African commercial capital, Nairobi. Here, the infamous street was cordoned off with ugly razor-sharp wire that reminded one of the equally infamous American Guantanamo Bay prison for “illegal combatants” and the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz during the second world war.
And to get to Koinange Street, even if one has an office, restaurant, shop or whatever kind of business there, one had to pay Sh100 for oneself and Sh50 for one’s child during the day or risk being denied entry to one’s own work place. At night, an adult had to pay Sh200. But then one wonders what one would be going to the street that is best known for prostitution at night?
Businesses on Koinange Street, we were told, had organised the carnival to “redeem the image of Koinange Street” from that of a red light district to one of respectable commercial enterprises.
The low-keyed event that should have kicked off at 10.00 am, stumbled to life at 3.00 pm to a handful spectators.
As if the blocking off the road and denying non-paying people entry to their work places, the Koinange Carnival drama was not over till some performers (musicians, acrobats, models) had been arrested at night and locked up at the Central Police Station and charged in court a day later for moving around the city on an allegedly unlicensed truck publicising the event.
For bringing images of Guantanamo Bay & Auschwitz to Nairobi CBD, Koinange Street Carnivore and its organisers win the ArtMatters.Info Umbrage of the Month Award!