Adriaan Roets
3 minute read
24 May 2018
11:09 am

Fête de La Musique: The festival where Africa meets France

Adriaan Roets

With six stages featuring international and South African musicians and bands, it’s a day that is eclectic and wonderful.

Morena Leraba. Picture: Supplied

This year marks the seventh Fête de La Musique. The festival, an exciting cosmopolitan celebration where worlds, minds, ideas and music meet, has grown considerably.

Last year, the Newtown Precinct was packed as revellers got to know artists performing on the various stages, and the cacophony of music deepened with art installations.

The Alliance Française of Johannesburg, the French Institute SA, and Bassline Live, in partnership with the Market Theatre Foundation, is again banding together on June 9 for the Fête.

Launched this week, the festival saw a countrywide application process to find acts to fill music slots on the day.

With six stages featuring international and South African musicians and bands – professionals and amateurs – it’s a day that is eclectic and wonderful.

Previous years saw music lovers take over the space between Newtown Junction and The Market Theatre piazza – and with two added stages this year, the expectation is that more revellers will come bask in the music.

The six open-air stages will offer music catering to a variety of discerning musical tastes – for free. The Fête is part of the heritage portfolio dedicated to supporting and advancing the cultural and artistic endeavour across multiple disciplines.

Nyameka Makonya, corporate social investment head at Total says: “Total SA is excited to once again be a partner in bringing French and South African culture together at this unique event.

“As a French business operating in South Africa, it is essential to support events that unify our heritage and demonstrate the opportunities that our commitment and collaboration in the arts create for all South Africans.”

This year, the festival has beefed up its entertainment and food options, but it’s all about the music.

Some of the leading acts include:


Ibaaku. Picture: Supplied

This Senegalese multidisciplinary artist is dubbed a musical UFO. He uses a mix of hip-hop and experimental electro sounds, blended with Senegalese and Afro-futuristic rhythms.

Motel Mari

Consisting of João Orecchia, Mpumelelo Mcata and Tshepang Ramoba, the band was established in 2004 shortly after Orecchia, a Brooklyn-born muso landed in Joburg.

When he heard about a psychedelic Afro-rock outfit called BLK JKS, the trio became friends and have been working together on projects ever since.

Orecchia excels in voice, guitar, banjo, bass, vuvuzela, kazoozuzela, accordion, synthesiser, electronics, tapes, toy piano and loops, with Mcata performing voice, guitar, bass, synthesiser and loops, and Ramoba on voice and drums.

Jess & Crabbe

This DJ duo originally established their name as a House music act in 1999. The Frenchmen have released several records and have produced numerous remixes for various artists including Daft Punk.

They brought into the spotlight the often-ignored Afro-scenes, particularly those originating from southern Africa and Portugal.

Jesse & Crabbe. Picture: Supplied

Femi Koya

One of the big names in African Renaissance, Koya is known for combining Afro-beat and jazz, with a nostalgic Sophiatown flavour. His music is a blend of sultry jazz and Jess & Grabbe Ibaaku contemporary groove. His life’s journey – a story of migration from the west to the south – resonates in his music, which creates a dialogue between western African and southern African sounds. This musical fusion demonstrates the path to a culturally integrated Africa in which a common heritage is reinforced.

Morena Leraba

His musical background started as a shepherd from the mountains of Lesotho.

Leraba fuses his homegrown traditional Famo-inspired vocals with electronic dance, hip-hop, reggae and everything in between, meshing cultures and sounds from far and wide to create a unique sonic experience.


  • The festival runs from 11am until 7pm;
  • There’s more than 2 000 paid parking bays at Newtown Junction, as well as numerous restaurants and bars participating; and
  • One can make the most of this free music event.

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