All roads during the past long weekend led to Limpopo for the annual Mapungubwe Arts Festival in Polokwane, the province’s biggest social and cultural event celebrating diversity through the arts, heritage and music.
The festival, which started earlier this month on December 1, is named after the province’s ancient African kingdom, the Mapungubwe National Park, and hosted by the provincial department of sports, arts and culture.
The event is targeted towards growing Limpopo’s burgeoning tourism industry and local economy. However, unlike other similar yearly events held in other parts of the country, the Mapungubwe Arts Festival places a lot of emphasis on building social cohesion among the province’s different ethnic groups in its beautiful terrains bordering Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“This festival is more about social cohesion, branding our province and promoting our artists. 80% of the artists performing at the festival come from Limpopo. That is more important to us than raising money; we are not about raising funds,” said Onicca Moloi, the MEC for sports, arts and culture.
Moloi said the provincial government budgeted R8m for the event – which included a cultural carnival, theatre shows, and poetry sessions – while national government contributed R2m to the festival.
“We have made R1.5m last year in terms of the revenue we reached, and we are expecting to double the amount this year because we had a number of activities,” she said.
The main event, an outdoor festival and arts and craft exhibition that took place on Saturday at the Polokwane Cricket Club, included international acts Angelique Kidjo and Encore, and the best of SA jazz from Thandiswa Mazwa, Caiphus Semenya, and Zonke Dikana, who thrilled the throngs of fans who came to see them live in Polokwane.
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Zonke performed some of her classic hits from her critically acclaimed 2011 album, Ina Ethe, and her latest album, Work Of Heart.
She said there was something about a live band on stage that always gets her excited and interacting with her fans.
“It makes you wanna get up. These are the very same songs on CD. It’s just that they sound different because they are live. And of course being the musician that I am, in between I’ll have a different arrangement because you can’t have a CD and also have the very same arrangement on stage.
“So on stage you get to perform; that’s when the song comes to life. It makes you wanna get up and dance.”
She also had a message for her fans this festive season.
“I’d love to say to my fans, please be safe. I know we always say just do everything in moderation, be responsible but it’s really, really true. Let’s all be considerate of each other on the roads this festive season and look out for one another.”