There’s no better way to beat the Sunday Blues than with an energy-filled, bum-wiggling, hands-clapping, incredible music concert. A Night with Vusi Mahlasela and Friends at the Artscape was exactly that. Add in a hope-inspiring audience, and a great cause (Equal Education) and you’ve got a Sunday night winner.
Equal Education is a movement driven by the people who are invested in education i.e. learners, parents, teachers and community members. Through research, analysis and activation, its aim is to bring quality and equal education to every South African. It’s good to see a bunch of people who are passionate about this, incredibly important, cause.
The throngs at the Artscape were most definitely cut from the cool crowd, and what a pleasure that was. To see the foyer filled with a demographically-representative audience filled my heart with joy. And so many Trendy Young Things. I can now report that dungarees are in, as are short jeans with impossibly high heels.
Inside the Opera House the anticipation was electric, the drum set and guitars on stage looking into the wings, waiting for The Muffinz to bring them to life. The theatre was ablaze with cell phones – selfies being taken left, right and centre, much Twittering (in both senses of the word) and the buzz of excitement.
The Muffinz were great. Five young men, smooth as anything. Four on guitar, one on drums and a soulful sound that lulled the audience. Well, except for the couple of girls who couldn’t resist a squeal every now and again. A fabulous mix of groovy R&B, a touch of jazz and a good injection of rock, it’s hard to define these guys. And that’s what makes them so accessible. Not only are they talented musicians, they’ve all got wonderful voices, too. Drummer Keke’s Keita-esque voice on Sound Check is entrancing.
Next up was the phenomenal force that is Driemanskap – four guys from Gugulethu known as ‘the godfathers of Spaza’. Spaza is the Cape Town Hip Hop rhyming style that includes isiXhosa, English and Cape Flats slang. This is home-grown stuff and it makes me proud to be South African. The members of Driemanskap look like the Hip Hop stars of celebrity magazines, they perform like a tornado and, I’m here to tell you, the young girls love them. It’s no surprise, though, they are brilliant. Their energy literally curled through the theatre, sending arms in the air and bodies grooving.
During the interval, I signed up with Equal Education, a Trendy Young Thing filling in my form. We chatted about how amazing Driemanskap are and, overcoming her giggles at this ‘old’ lady gushing about their coolness she shyly told me, “They live in my road in Gugulethu.”
After a short documentary of a trip taken to the Eastern Cape to inspect conditions at schools, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba spoke briefly about the real need for movements such as Equal Education. The doccie had it made blatantly obvious, but Makgoba personalised it.
And then… The Voice. Vusi Mahlasela, who never fails to enchant. He whipped the audience into a frenzy, chatting between tracks, reminding us of where we’ve come from, what we need to fight for, all in his beautiful, calm voice. And boy, can he dance! He had the whole audience on their feet, groovin’ and jivin’ at one point. My best sentence of the night from him: “Do you know what Ubuntu is? Google it.”
And that’s what this amazing concert encompassed. Ubuntu: human-ness, kindness, a sense of community, the embracing of a need to share, to be compassionate, to forgive, to come together for the greater good of us all. This, accompanied by some ridiculously good music. What a win.
Sunday Blues be gone.
*An edited version of this piece was published at What’s On In Cape Town.