Covid-19, music events, and the global North

30 May 2020

Würzburg Africafestival

eSwatini Bushfire Festival

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Wasn’t there always talk of “developing countries” vs. the “developed world”? I guess that was right: some countries indeed were developing while others started whingeing more and more, and rested comfortably on their “achievements”, and whinged some more when they were asked to share those, or give back. Pathetic.

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New musical discovery: Smiles Mandla Makama

Just when I become too proud of my music collection (which is amazingly diverse and, well, just amazing!) and of my increasing knowledge of music, especially African music, I am humbled by a new discovery. Now, that’s a misnomer, because as a rule I have discovered that music in question just as much as Livingstone discovered the Falls that he had the nerve to name after an English queen who had never, nor would ever, set eyes on them. They, the Falls and Makame’s music had – always – already been there. A known fact as there can be one.

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Bushfire 2018

I admit, I have Romantic ideas about “Africa”. They lean towards pan-Africanism, and as my friend Vuyi put it, they may also sound like I want to take Africans back to the bush. True. My Wakanda has no need for a fast train! So, as long as I can have an experienced ranger by my side, you’d find me at the front of that bush-trekker movement. Having said that, I’m well aware of my Romanticism, and as much as I am sometimes frustrated by what I consider a Westernization of African cultures, I own my frustration and accept (and do enjoy, yes) 21st-century African realities. The MTN Bushfire Festival in eSwatini is part of this reality. If my previous experiences of festivals in Africa, especially at Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar), but also at Lake of Stars (Malawi) fed into my Romantic views of “Africa”, Bushfire was rather sobering – pun intended … 

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