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Introducing Igoda: One of Africa’s first music festival touring circuits

An aristocratic basement in Braamfontein played host to one of the most important music initiatives in Southern Africa and we were privileged enough to be among the few to witness its launch. On Tuesday evening, Igoda officially launched its 2019 music festival circuit by unveiling a host of top international acts performing at the various events across the circuit. Igoda is a Zulu word that means “knot” or “to bind together” and this definition reflects the unique collaboration that brings together the finest music festivals in Southern Africa to create one of the first touring circuits on the African continent.

The circuit is a partnership that encompasses five regional festivals including:

AZGO Festival (Maputo, Mozambique) 16 – 18 May 2019
Mozambique’s finest international arts festival; bringing together a diverse and quality program of music, film, and dance to the city of Maputo across two days and nights. Azgo is a contemporary celebration of arts and culture, with a strong focus on artists from Mozambique and from around the continent of Africa. The festival serves as a platform for emerging and acclaimed artists to collaborate and meet a new audience. The name ‘Azgo’ is and old slang word from Maputo which means ‘let’s go’, let’s revisit our cultures and heritage, ‘let’s go’ promote cultural diversity, “let’s go” promote the arts and culture, Let’s Go.

Find out more about the AZGO Festival on their website here.

Bassline Fest (Johannesburg, South Africa) 23 – 25 May 2019
Bassline’s annual Bassline Fest – Celebrating Africa Day, is one of Africa’s biggest celebrations of African contemporary music. The concert is held annually on the closest Saturday to the official AU Africa Day of celebration on the 25th May. Hosted at Constitution Hill, in the heart of Jozi and the beacon of our much cherished democracy, this concert has developed over the years from the Newtown Precinct to Constitution Hill. Established in 2003, this event is a world class production featuring a star-studded line-up that sees some of the continent’s biggest acts take to the stage, such as Ishmael Lo, D’banj, Salif Keita, Femi Kuti & Oliver Mtukudzi, to name a few, as well as providing a platform for new artists breaking onto the contemporary African music scene. In addition to live concert the Bassline Fest is filmed for a 3-hour live television show and is broadcast around the continent to millions of music lovers across the globe.

Find out more about the Bassline Fest on their website here.

MTN Bushfire (Malkerns, Eswatini) 24 – 26 May 2019
More than a festival, this living, breathing creative ecosystem deeply rooted in African soil, is best known for its inclusivity, welcoming approximately 26,000 guests from over 60 countries in an atmosphere of tolerance. Its “Bring Your Fire” call to action promotes a passionate commitment to music, the arts and the environment, inviting all fans of music, the arts, cultural exploration and environmental sustainability to become part of the thriving community. The festival is the 2017 winner of Best Responsible Event – African Responsible Tourism Awards.

Find out more about MTN Bushfire on their website here.

SAKIFO Music Festival (Saint-Pierre, Reunion Island) 7 – 9 June 2019
Sakifo is the longest-running music event in Réunion’s cultural landscape, eagerly awaited by local festival-goers. An eclectic line-up will gather on southern Saint-Pierre’s shores, including top-notch international acts. Second weekend of June should already be in your schedule!

Find out more about Sakifo on their website here.

ZAKIFO Music Festival (Durban, South Africa) 24 May – 2 June 2019

Zakifo is a showcase of artists at the forefront of sound from across the globe. Now in its fifth year, the festival moves across two weeks including multiple venues, events and non-stop music. Running from 24 May to 2 June, the programme will incorporate many local venues and festival sites.

Find out more about Zakifo on their website here.

These festivals work together in facilitating the movement of artists within the region, thereby exposing them to different audiences. When an artist is booked to perform at one of the member festivals, it opens up opportunities for them to easily perform at the other festivals and tour the circuit during the period. Igoda is an exciting development both for local and international artists, festival professionals, and music fans from Southern Africa and across the world. The touring circuit can offset the high costs of travel for international acts to Africa via increased efficiencies, opening up opportunities for many artists would have not considered performing in the region before.

The shared artists for the Igoda Southern African Festival Music Circuit 2019 include the following artists:

Alibombo (Colombia)

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Alibombo, besides being a percussion group, is an experimentation laboratory. With noise that creates music from recycled elements, its influences pass through rhythms of the Caribbean and the Colombian Pacific, merged with drum and bass.

Dobet Gnahoré  (Cote d’Ivoire)

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Dobet Gnahoré is a singer from Côte d’Ivoire. The daughter of percussionist Boni Gnahoré, she plays with the group Na Afriki, consisting mainly of French and Tunisian musicians, who accompany her with the guitar, sanza, the balafon, the calebasse and bongos. Due to the civil war unrest in her country of birth, she moved to France in 1999. In 2004, Dobet Gnahoré released her debut album AnoNeko. In 2006, she was a nominee at the World Music Awards for Newcomer and shared an award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance with India Arie at the 52nd Grammy Awards.

GranMah (Mozambique)

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GranMah is a Dub/Reggae Fusion band from Mozambique that started in a garage in 2009. They recorded an LP and have been featured on various TV and radio shows. In 2012, they won a public contest to open the Mozambique Music Awards gala, with their first single, Starlight Stardust. In addition to performing at various venues for live music in Mozambique, the local festival appearances include the Azgo Festival (1st, 3rd and 6th editions), Downwind Kitesurf Festival (Vilanculos), Music Festival at the Franco Moçambicano Cultural Center (Maputo), and ‘Festival da Terra’ in Inhambane (Tofo).

Lindigo (Reunion Island)

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Lindigo is a music group from Reunion Island. The Maloya group founded in 1999 , and  is led by Olivier Araste, the singer  who hails from Paniandy. The band has released four albums, the latest, Maloya Power, in 2012. With an average age of thirty, Lindigo’s members are stubbornly watching the past. However, their approach does not lock in nostalgia, nor in the shackles of a sterile memory. Foundations serve momentum, and roots build the future.

Maia & The Big Sky (Kenya)

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Maia represents a different flavour to Kenya’s contemporary musical landscape. Her magnetic vocals, both in Kiswahili and English, weave together African polyrhythm with soul and folk, creating a familiarity and warmth that transcends continents. Daughter of Kenyan musical legend Sal Davis, Maia has earned herself a formidable reputation as one of Kenya’s most explosive live performers.

Mandla Mlangeni (South Africa)

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Trumpeter, composer, bandleader of the Tune Recreation Committee and Amandla Freedom Ensemble, Mandla Mlangeni is the band leader of the Tune Recreation Committee. Their debut album, Voices Of Our Vision, was New York Time’s Best Albums of 2017 and SAMA nominee for Best Jazz Album.

MEUTE (Germany)

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When the bass drops and the confetti blows up: MEUTE breaks the code. The Techno Marching Band combines hypnotic driving techno and expressive brass band music, freeing electronic music from the DJ desk and overhauling the image of marching bands. Just drums and brass, no computers involved, this is all they need to revolutionize techno music and bring it back to its roots at the same time.

Moonchild Sanelly (South Africa)

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Moonchild Sanelly grew up in Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Her love for music became evident when Sanelly found love in front of the camera. Her love for jazz, hip-hop and kwaito were all influenced by her social experiences in the Durban music scene. She has performed alongside artists such as Gcina Hlope, Busi Mhlongo and Madala Kunene. She has also collaborated with the likes of DJ Maramza, BLK JKS and Thandiswa Mazwai. She left a lasting impression when she performed at the Sound Festival in Primavera, Barcelona.

Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe)

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Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi is a Zimbabwean musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Region. Tuku is considered Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icon of all time. With his husky voice, he has become the most revered voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond.

Sands (Kingdom of eSwatini)

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Guitarist, songwriter, performing artist and singer; Sands has been celebrated from all corners of eSwatini long before his song ‘Tigi” propelled him into the Southern African music scene. Sands’ journey as an artist began in high school when his brother-in-law bought him a guitar and taught him a few chords. He taught himself from then on and got a confidence boost from studying music. He performed around campus until he met Qibho Intalektual, and they started recording with the producer Sub Jamz, who’s highly respected in the kingdom.

Find out more about Igoda, its aims and achievements so far, here.

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