The delayed return of music festivals more than a year after the pandemic hit, continues to hit hard the African music festival scene. Most festivals have had to adapt to the new normal, but it’s not the same as having the usual crowds, especially the experience and power of watching a live act at a venue. The award-winning Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) early this year introduced to its old and new followers, a new online series dubbed JazzFix. The series of previously performed shows from the CTIJF archives features some of South Africa’s favourite jazz artists. The online shows present footage of some of the festival’s greatest moments and shows exclusively performed at the festival over the past 20 years, which includes interviews with artists who performed! The shows promise to be the perfect “FIX” of entertainment for the lovers of all genres of jazz! Viewers can enjoy these exclusively recorded performances from their favourite CTIJF artists, with current conversations and discussions. This is how Africa’s Grandest Gathering has responded to the pandemic, and it’s making it work. The first show kicked off on Saturday 27 February 2021 with South Africa’s legendary guitarist and Grammy Award nominated artist Jonathan Butler’s 2019 CTIJF Homecoming performance. espAfrika, the event organisers of the CTIJF thanked fans for their “patience and support during this unprecedented time.” In a statement, the festival Billy Domingo, Festival Director said: “The decision to postpone the 2020 Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March was one not…

Get exclusive access to this story

Subscribe to Nomad Africa and get unlimited access to our exclusive articles on African cultural heritage, travel tips, tourism news updates, industry trends and insights. Your subscription will also help support tourism in Africa. Subscription starts from only R15 ($1 USD) per month.*

SUBSCRIBE

 

Already a subscriber? Login here

*Charged for the first month after which standard rates apply. Cancel anytime.

 

 

 

 

...

After deferring the MTN Bushfire Festival 2020 due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increasing in Southern Africa and across the globe, the 14th edition will be held from 28-30 May, 2021. The socially conscious and conscientious festival prioritized the health, safety and security of the Eswatini community, the festival staff and guests. It believes that this is the responsible decision to make in recognition of these extraordinary circumstances. The festival management and stakeholders including sponsors and government agencies, partners and other relevant parties, acknowledges the massive economic and cultural impact that the festival has for local creatives and traders, and the region as a whole. Discussions and the ultimate decision to postpone last year’s festival were guided by a collective priority for the safety of the people of Eswatini, festival guests and staff members. To find out more, our journalist, Martin Chemhere talks to Jiggs Thorne, Director, MTN Bushfire Festival in this exclusive interview.

Nomad Africa: The 14th edition of MTN Bushfire Festival 2021 was postponed to this month of May 2021, tell us how its delayed return has impacted the festival brand?

Jiggs Thorne: The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic hit us in March 2020, a little less than three months before the festival was due to start. We created and aired our first-ever digital festival within a couple of months, and raised some much-needed funds for our festival beneficiaries who support vulnerable women and children in Eswatini.

We had to postpone the in-person festival again this year, but we are confident we will be able to hold MTN Bushfire again in 2022, as the Kingdom started rolling out its vaccination campaign at the beginning of the year.

Fortunately, brand impact has been minimal. We are lucky to have a large dedicated following of fans who have been very supportive over the last year. We’ve been keeping our brand visible with our online activities, and this year we are moving into the digital space in a big way with our new MTN Bushfire 2021 Digital Series of events, using new digital platforms we’ve been creating in the meantime. Our philosophy is to always look for opportunities when faced with challenges, and the opportunity in the pandemic situation has been the massive increase in online and broadcast consumption of content. Developing complementary digital platforms for the festival is something we’ve been planning to do for a while, and this past year has given us the chance to make it happen.

Nomad Africa MTN BushFire 02
BUSHFIRE 2016, 20160528 – Kenyan band Sauti Sol performs during the Bushfire Festival 2016. Photo: Bram Lammers

Nomad Africa: How many tourists per year and how much revenue does it bring to Eswatini’s economy?

Jiggs Thorne: Our last statistics are from the 2019 festival, before the pandemic, and we were fortunate that the North-West University (NWU) in South Africa had requested to conduct an independent economic impact survey. That year, MTN Bushfire generated over SZL 45 million for the economy, outside of the actual festival. About 55% of our festival-goers came from other countries, the majority of them from Southern Africa.

You might want to read this related article: Legends Live at MTN Bushfire 2018

Nomad Africa: How important is it to the country’s tourism industry?

Jiggs Thorne: We’ve completely sold out in advance of the festival for the last six consecutive years. As the only large music and arts festival with a strong, established, international footprint, MTN Bushfire is an important fixture in the Eswatini calendar. May is considered “Bushfire month” and we sort of take over the country – there’s literally no accommodation to be found in the country during the MTN Bushfire festival weekend. Festival-goers start booking rooms as soon as the festival dates for the next year are announced, which is usually 10 or so months before the next edition. That’s not counting the 4,000 or so people who camp on-site every year. So it’s a pretty big deal.

Nomad Africa MTN BushFire 03
SWAZILAND, MALKERNS, 20130602, A man lights his torches ahead of a fire show at the 2013 Bushfire Music and Arts Festival in Swaziland. The festival is one of the biggest on the African continent and donates 100 percent of its profits to AIDS orphans through the Swazi NGO Young Heroes. Picture: Bram Lammers / Hollandse Hoogte SWAZILAND, MALKERNS, 20130602, Een man steekt zijn vuurtoortsen aan voorafgaand aan een vuurshow tijdens het 2013 Bushfire Muziek en Kunst Festival in Swaziland. Het is een van de grootste festivals op het Afrikaanse continent en geeft 100 procent van haar opbrengsten aan aids weeskinderen via de ngo Young Heroes uit Swaziland. Foto: Bram Lammers / Hollandse Hoogte
Nomad Africa MTN BushFire 04
SWAZILAND/MALKERNS – 31 May 2014 – Fire SHow at the BUSHFIRE FESTIVAL 2014. Photo: Bram Lammers

Nomad Africa: Roughly how many people have been affected by the ban of Bushfire?

Jiggs Thorne: That’s very difficult to say, but it’s a lot. Apart from the thousands of disappointed festival-goers, many others benefit economically from the festival. As mentioned, almost the entire hospitality industry in the Ezulwini and Malkerns valleys, were affected. Many tourists come for the festival and then stay an extra few day to explore the country, too.

We directly employ 900 extra staff for the three days of the festival, mostly from our neighbouring community in Mahlanya, and the NWU economic impact survey established that another 900 people in the general economy were employed just for the weekend in 2019. The informal vendors and market-sellers in Mahlanya also rely heavily on the crowds drawn by the festival, so it’s hard to measure accurately. It was a big loss to all of us.

Please note that MTN Bushfire wasn’t banned. In fact, we were the first large event in the country to decide to postpone due to the emerging Covid-19 threat.

Nomad Africa: Some have called governments to allow them to host music festival events for limited number of people, to ensure just a lifeline for the sector, what do you say about this?

Jiggs Thorne: Our first priority has always been the safety of our festival-goers, staff and all the other people who make MTN Bushfire the amazing event that it is. If the possibility exists for us to host small numbers of people in carefully-controlled environments, with all Covid safety protocols in place, then we will certainly consider doing so as a complement to our Digital Series events. The trick is to balance what can be managed safely with the typically high costs of holding events.

Nomad Africa MTN BushFire 05
Nomad Africa MTN BushFire 06

You might want to read this related article: MTN BUSHFIRE 2015: Africa’s World Music Festival

Nomad Africa: How prepared is the Bushfire for a return to physical performances?

Jiggs Thorne : We’re ready. Many of the performers we contacted for 2020 will be available and our infrastructure is largely in place. In fact, we’ve taken this opportunity to revamp and renovate the host venue space, House On Fire, so we’ll be able to offer a broader range of experiences and improved facilities. Our long-standing partners have been very supportive of us, for which we are extremely grateful, and we have forged new relationships too. They can’t wait for the return of MTN Bushfire in all its glory either. We work year-round to prepare MTN Bushfire – we have 14 years of experience doing it – so we just need to hit the ‘go’ button when we feel the time is right.

Nomad Africa: Many festivals have responded to the new normal with new innovations, tell us if the same is the case with Bushfire and how?

Jiggs Thorne: Well, we’re moving into the digital space in a really big way. We had our first-ever digital festival in 2020, the #KEEPTHEFIREBURNING digital festival, which you can watch on our YouTube channel. This year, we are innovating new content and launching our MTN Bushfire 2021 Digital Series, for which we’ve been creating new digital platforms. We’ll be launching the series at the end of April, but we can tell you that this year we’ll be introducing a brand-new website and our first mobile festival app, as well as launching our own content platform – Bushfire TV! We’re also forging relationships with trans-national broadcast partners so that our content can reach people throughout the region. All of our new platforms and content packages will complement the traditional-style festival, they’re not once-off replacements during the pandemic, so the MTN Bushfire experience will be significantly expanded and enhanced. We’re really taking it to the next level this year!

Jiggs Thorne, Director, MTN Bushfire Festival
Nomad Africa MTN BushFire 08

Nomad Africa: Given the current situation is unpredictable especially with new variants and new cases rising in Europe and the Indian region, what are the prospects like for the major music festival community in Africa?

Jiggs Thorne: It’s critical that we plan for the long-term and aren’t short-sighted by planning on returning to the pre-Covid festival format. The development in the digital space needs to complement the live experience when we open up again.

We need to have a long-term policy approach to Covid and how we stage festivals on the African continent. It’s crucial for us to be relevant beyond our borders. The overarching policy should be to keep developing our digital platforms, so that we can continue to engage consumers in a relevant way, both domestically and internationally, sustain our brands and remain relevant to our partner and sponsor brands so that they continue to support the arts industry in Africa.

There is a real need for good-quality high-value content in the world, and the African music and arts industry can supply that.

You might want to read this related article: My Epic Road Trip to Swaziland

For best deals and tour packages to Swaziland (Eswatini) click here. To compare, search and book affordable hotel & flight to Swaziland (Eswatini), visit this website here.

I love road trips! But starting a journey before the sun rises is not exactly my cup of tea! Our long journey began at Auckland Park, Johannesburg – right outside the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) studios. A group of bright-eyed strangers jam-packed into a mini-bus. Thankfully, I was travelling with my colleague, Alessandro who made the trip so much more fun. I am no stranger to the beautiful nation of eSwatini. This cultural journey was my second time in Swaziland to witness the Umhlanga Reed Dance. It’s hard to imagine what to expect this time round as the famed ceremony has received negative feedback in the past. Crossing the South African border was the easiest thing I have seen in a long time. We were met at the border by Melusi, the Communications Officer, eSwatini Tourism Authority. He collected our passports for stamping while we all wait in the car. I was amazed at how professional and efficient the border authorities were. You might want to read this related article: My Epic Road Trip to Swaziland Upon crossing the border, we went directly to the Ngwenya Glass factory where Radio 2000 will be broadcasting from specifically for the event. Radio 2000 forms a part of the SABC’s Public Broadcasting Stations portfolio. While their work began, Alessandro and I  had breakfast and used the opportunity to explore the area. Curiosity and sheer hunger drew us to order Eggs Benedict with an assortment of tasty treats like English muffins, poached eggs…

Get exclusive access to this story

Subscribe to Nomad Africa and get unlimited access to our exclusive articles on African cultural heritage, travel tips, tourism news updates, industry trends and insights. Your subscription will also help support tourism in Africa. Subscription starts from only R15 ($1 USD) per month.*

SUBSCRIBE

 

Already a subscriber? Login here

*Charged for the first month after which standard rates apply. Cancel anytime.

 

 

 

 

...

Traditional culture, wildlife, and awe-inspiring scenery all mingle together with Swaziland’s fresh mountain air, conjuring up a heady concoction of sensory pleasure that is deeply pleasing to the soul. Although tiny, the Kingdom of Swaziland packs a powerful punch, with a host of things to keep visitors busy. Here are some of the highlights. With lots to do, I was prepared to do a road trip with my friend who is actually a tour guide and a local of beautiful Swaziland. The country may be the smallest of the Southern Hemisphere of South Africa, but then it also has lots to offer and has the most amazing spots to just have a picnic and to take a few photo shoots. I mean in the wild, obviously. Something scary but safe. Wild Lion Photo: The Aspiring Gentleman Eswatini will be launching its very first explosive event and the country believes that this way it will be attracting many tourists coming to the country. Having the privilege of meeting the man of the show himself, Msimisi Dlamini, who is as excited as everyone. One of our freelancers were lucky to have had the opportunity of meeting the man and asking him where and how he believes the event will prosper well – not only for this year but the following years to come. You might want to read this related article: The Art Of Swaziland The event will feature award-winning fireworks and a great line up of the world-famous musical celebrities. The…

Get exclusive access to this story

Subscribe to Nomad Africa and get unlimited access to our exclusive articles on African cultural heritage, travel tips, tourism news updates, industry trends and insights. Your subscription will also help support tourism in Africa. Subscription starts from only R15 ($1 USD) per month.*

SUBSCRIBE

 

Already a subscriber? Login here

*Charged for the first month after which standard rates apply. Cancel anytime.

 

 

 

 

...

The Kingdom of Swaziland, also known for being Southern Africa’s landlocked monarchy, is home to a thriving culture, wildlife and nature reserves. One of the major drawcards for tourists throughout the year has to be the unsurpassed splendor of Swaziland’s scenery. I visited this remarkable country and took some time to appreciate some of the wonders unveiled from a couple of Swaziland’s prestigious locations. I entered the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and took a hike up to the summit of the illustrious Execution Rock, also known as Nyonyane Mountain. My group on our 3-4 hour hiking trail, stopped at the Nyakato viewpoint, where we took a few minutes to revel in the beauty of the Mantenga waterfall, Usushwana Valley and Sheba’s breasts. This 110m high granite rock exposes some of nature’s golden gems. We delved into some Swazi history by spending time at one of the largest San art displays hosted in the Nsangwini Rock Shelter. This historical site comprises of spiritual recordings and iconic moments dating back as long as 4000 years ago. Accompanied by the Nsangwini community members who manage and maintain the site, you will not only gain more historical insights, but also enjoy pristine views as you walk through the community. You might want to read this related article: My Epic Road Trip to Swaziland For visitors intrigued by abundant wildlife and incredible views, you can travel 10km outside Swaziland’s capital city, Mbabane to the world’s largest granite rock dome, Sibebe Rock. We embarked on a 1.5hrs –…

Get exclusive access to this story

Subscribe to Nomad Africa and get unlimited access to our exclusive articles on African cultural heritage, travel tips, tourism news updates, industry trends and insights. Your subscription will also help support tourism in Africa. Subscription starts from only R15 ($1 USD) per month.*

SUBSCRIBE

 

Already a subscriber? Login here

*Charged for the first month after which standard rates apply. Cancel anytime.

 

 

 

 

...

The MTN Bushfire, Swaziland, 2018 artist line-up just got that much hotter with the announcement of African mega-stars Salif Keita & Yemi Alade & Ladysmith Black Mambazo as the latest addition to the main-stage for the festival taking place from May 25th – 27th.

As one of the largest world music festivals and recognized by CNN as one of the “7 African music festivals you really have to see,” and listed by BBC as a “Top African Festival,” MTN Bushfire is once again bringing the fire to the main stage with this latest announcement of artists.

One of Nigeria’s hottest exports, Yemi Alade is well known and loved across the continent for her Afro-centric sound and style. Alade has achieved a kind of cult status worldwide, but in Africa she’s a bonafide superstar. In 2015 she won Best Female at the MTV African Music Awards, her 2016 album hit No.1 on the continent’s iTunes chart, and she was named an ambassador for Africa Fashion Week.

Salif Keita needs no introduction to fans of world and African music. To call him a legend is by no means an exaggeration, known as “the golden voice of Africa,” Keita is one of the founders of the Afro-pop genre, Keita is world renowned for his unforgettable live performances, soaring vocals and his emotionally-fueled songs and even after a career spanning over thirty years- his live performances backed by a full band are something to behold.

South African multi-Grammy winning artists and MTN Bushfire favorite, Ladysmith Black Mambazo will once again return to play the festival, bringing their unmatched accapello performance to yet another generation of fans. For over four decades the group, founded by Joseph Shabalala has stayed relevant and fresh, just recently winning their 5th Grammy award.

These legendary artists join the initial artist line-up that has already been announced and that includes; Dub Inc (France), Alice Phoebe Lou (South Africa), Flavia Coelho (Brazil), Elida Almeida (Cape Verde), Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse (South Africa), Samthing Soweto (South Africa) and Tlale Makhene (Swaziland), Nakhane Toure, (South Africa), Nonku Phiri (South Africa), Oki Dub Ainu Band (Japan), Sekou Kouyate (Guinea), Mario Batkovik (Switzerland) and Manu Sija (Argentina) amongst others.  To find out more visit https://www.bush-fire.com/explore/lineup/.

This amazing artist line-up is just one of the reasons that MTN Bushfire tickets sell out every year. Book now to avoid missing out on the unique full-weekend experience that is MTN Bushfire.

MTN Bushfire is a holistic experience made up of a rich texture of arts, cultures, crafts, food markets, and specialized zones that combine to create an explosive three-day event and a memorable take home experience.  An event with something for everyone, MTN Bushfire 2018 will also present an exciting 3-day KidZone, and also the fully interactive Bring Your Fire Zone.

Tickets are on sale NOW for MTN Bushfire as well as various travel and accommodation options. Festival guests are strongly encouraged to book early as tickets for the festival sell-out well in advance of the weekend and many accommodation options are also booked well in advance.

There are a variety of ticket and accommodation (camping and glamping) options, as well as special VIP and family friendly packages.

For more information www.bush-fire.com

Beautiful rolling green hills, tropical palm trees, frequent cattle in the road, laughing children waving with both hands – these are my fond and eclectic memories of Swaziland says Nomad Africa Rebecca Bam. She explores the ancient arts of Swaziland to reveal more. The roads had potholes, the buildings were somewhat derelict, but the inhabitants were some of the friendliest, most hospitable people I have ever come across. The weekend at The Royal Swazi Spa was, needless to say, heaps of hedonistic fun. But back to Swaziland itself. It is a country rich in culture and steeped in fascinating history. According to tradition, the original followers of the present Dlamini royal house of the Swazi nation migrated south before the 16th century to what is now called Mozambique. As result of a series of skirmishes with locals, the Ngwane (as they then called themselves), settled in northern Zululand in around 1750. But pursued by a growing Zulu strength, the Ngwane had to move north in the 1810s and 1820s. Under King Sobhuza I, they established themselves in the heartland of modern Swaziland, conquering and incorporating many long-established, independent chiefdoms, whose descendants also make up much of the modern Swazi nation. You might want to read this related article: The Kingdom of Swaziland: Southern Africa’s landlocked monarchy The art and craft outlets and traditional markets of Swaziland are undoubtedly one of the Kingdom’s greatest attractions. Whether wanting a souvenir of an African holiday, a key decorative feature for a living room…

Get exclusive access to this story

Subscribe to Nomad Africa and get unlimited access to our exclusive articles on African cultural heritage, travel tips, tourism news updates, industry trends and insights. Your subscription will also help support tourism in Africa. Subscription starts from only R15 ($1 USD) per month.*

SUBSCRIBE

 

Already a subscriber? Login here

*Charged for the first month after which standard rates apply. Cancel anytime.

 

 

 

 

...