The Soweto Theatre recently announced that it will celebrate its 7th birthday with what’s billed as ‘the mother of all parties’.An event with a social conscious that embraces the arts as a critical unifier of the diversity of the many tribes and cultures of the African continent. In partnership with Sound Proprietors, the theatre will host Africa Day Groove, with a line-up of six proudly and unapologetically African bands making waves in the global arena.
There is arguably no better canvas than this state-of-the-art complex boasting three primary coloured cuboid venues, curved buttress walls and a forecourt entrance, to showcase world-class, bespoke and diverse music. Complimented with a jam-packed programme that includes: masterclasses from the genius of the legendary Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse and Mandla Mlangeni, as well as arts and creativity classes and indigenous games to keep the kids happy. All while launching a young, black, startup-like Sound Proprietors, as they enter the big events category as event producers and organisers.
From the Roots-reggae outfit, whose iconic musicality incorporates influences from traditional African music art forms of Maskandi and Mbaqanga, Tidal Waves; to Sun Xa Experiment, an avant-garde 7 piece live music band that caters a ‘spiritual ancestral sound’ that tells the culture and heritage of Africans; to the funk-infused sound that fans of the duo Radio 123 have come to term as “Mandela Pop”, which reflects the telling of tales of the ‘rainbow nation’ and township stories, in its many dialects. It’s going to be a party like no other!
“Commemorating Africa Day annually is not all it will take to address the constant eruption of Xenophobia attacks which professor Rothney Tshaka contextualises as Afrophobia, ‘a fear of a specific other – the black other from north of the Limpopo River’, but it’s a start if our minds can be refocused even for one day,” says Tshiamo Mosenyi, founder of Sound Proprietor. Through events like Africa Day Groove, we are taking charge of opening lines of communication that will foster our unity and oneness, not just through the enjoyment of music, but importantly through African knowledge systems workshops, art and literature, which all form a fundamental component of this event.”
The event line-up is completed by Cape Town based Addis Ababa Assembly, named after the Organisation of African Unity’s founding assembly; the distinctive voice of Afrika Cele who has performed with well-known musicians such as Siphokazi, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Anton Goosen, and got her big break when she was invited to be part of a World Tour with the late Lucky Dube’s band where she travelled to the USA, Germany, Europe, Australia, Lesotho and Swaziland; and self-taught, experimental artists, Urban Village, who have perfected the art of South African folk music layered with electric, funky acoustic melodies and a blend of traditional influences. The band’s music encapsulates day-to-day black livelihood experiences.
Nomsa Mazwai, Soweto Theatre General Manager, adds that the theatre has come a long way from the brightly coloured beacon to progress on the dusty red landscape of the Sowetan skyline to becoming a global cultural brand – as a destination venue which produces and houses multi award-winning local and international acts.
“Acts on the line-up of the inaugural Africa Day Groove event excite me as a great representation of our mandate. I have no doubt they will organically grow alongside the theatre as we work towards a decade of next level successes,” continues Mazwai. “The arts and culture industries are pivotal in their role as ambassadors of African culture as rich in diversity and alive with possibilities and we look forward to welcoming friends and family from all walks of life to enjoy a dose of that magic at a gathering like no other, on 25 May 2019.”