By Gugu Mahlalela
MBABANE – Zimbabwean artist Jah Prayzah, brought the 11th annual MTN Bushfire Festival to a standstill last Saturday night when he took to the stage, in one of the most renowned music and art festival in the world. Prayzah was a standout, with a strong Zimbabwean contingent sharing their passion for the artiste with the rest of the crowd.
The three-day MTN Bushfire Festival drew about 29,000 followers from around the world to the tiny town of Malkerns in Swaziland.
The crowds came from over 60 countries including Denmark, United States of America, Brazil and all over Africa. It started on a high note Friday May 26 and ended on an even higher note on Sunday, May 28.
The Festival was a celebration of music, diversity, environmental sustainability and the arts, enjoyed over the weekend.
The Zimbabwean artiste performance thrilled the revelers such that they did not want him to leave the stage echoing for him to continue with his performance. He took everyone by surprised as only a few people knew about him, but after his performance the revelers were eating at the palms of his hands. Most revelers dubbed his performance the best performance of the night in the reggae genre.
Other perfoming artistes of the night were a local reggae bank known as the Swazi Reggae Legends, Siyinqaba which comprise of KrTC, Mozaik and Nomalungelo, Congolese group known as the Petite Noir and South African DJ Chynaman.
From a musical point of view, MTN Bushfire 2017 was a journey across the world and through generations. Amongst the performers in the three day festival were Legend Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s Kwesta, Reason, Goodluck, Matthew Mole, Pan-African stars Jah Prayzah, Freddy, Chicco Antonio, Femi Koya and Jojo Abot. These added to the likes of Kwaito superstars TKZee, Congolese performer Baloji, the Taureg rebel Bombino, the Belgian/South African newcomer Petite Noir and Swazi afro-soul singer Sands
This year’s strong Sunday line-up that included Bombino from Niger, Congolese-Belgian talented performer Baloji, Hugh Masekela, and a beautiful sundown set from Swazi artiste Bholoja saw the festival’s largest ever Sunday attendance with over 9,000 people. The party went on well into the night with the official after-party inside the House on Fire venue.
MTN Bushfire’s Bring Your Fire Zone, a new addition this year, also saw thousands of festival guests engaging in a host of interactive activities designed to promote the theme of environmental sustainability.
There were 18 activators in the Bring Your Fire Zone, activations spanning a broad spectrum in the environmental/arts activism spheres, and at every stall there was something to do and some way for people to interact.
According to MTN Bushfire Communications Officer Noncedo Dlamini, these stalls included the United Nations Development Programme, Greenpeace, Yebo Gallery, Young Heroes.
Another crowds’ favorite performer was the “Tigi” hit maker Swaziland’s Sandz. The artiste delivered an impeccable performance at that scheduled time and as the slogan goes ‘he brought his own fire.’ He first rendered ‘Sukumani’ which got the throngs of music lovers on their feet dancing to the groovy track.
As soon as the already crazy crowd heard Sands utter the first word of the hit song ‘Vuma’ they sang along up until the end. International music lovers alike, the whole arena was seen moving lips according to the rhythm of the hit. As every music lover had expected, Sands rendered an amazing version of the current top and most played song in the country and internationally ‘Tigi.’
He motivated the rendition of the song by confessing that he himself feels his heart skip a bit when he is happy.
“There is this Swazi vibe that consumes me. Whenever I’m happy my heart goes tigi gi gigi, he said, much to the ululation and deafening screams from the audience.
Next year’s event is set to take place on May, 25 until May, 27.
Tourists from Italy Ingrid and her husband Max Svenson who were breaking their bones during Sands performance attested that indeed he was the greatest in his generation. “We love how well he sings and dances it is just amazing,” Ingrid remarked.
Sands is not only the best Swaziland has seen thus far but he is also the most selling artiste in the country, not to mention that even in the neighbouring country South Africa he forms part of the list of the most selling artistes.