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New classics infused with ancient African tradition

Warm up: young musicians from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay got the audience started

A Nigerian Kora player, a South African composer, a Kenyan master of ceremonies and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille were among musicians, VIPs and invited guests gathered at Iziko Museum in Cape Town to listen to “new classics” in celebration of the 54th anniversary of Africa Day on Thursday.

After being warmed up by a few jazzy numbers played by young musicians from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay, which features youngsters from the community of Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and Hangberg, the audience was moved to seats under a collection of whale casts and skeletons in Iziko’s “whale well”, for the main show.

In the whale well: Could have been creepy …

A few jokes were made about this Jonah-esque setting before the audience was treated to a varied and moving selection of music, both ancient and brand new. Soon no one even noticed the enormous skeletons suspended above.

The programme included world premieres of new compositions by African classical music composers Tunde Jegede, from Nigeria, and South Africa’s Bongani Ndodana-Breen. The new, challenging scores were performed enthusiastically and elegantly by the Africa Arts Ensemble Noir, a chamber orchestra of 15 players from Cape Town with soprano soloist Amanda Osorio.

The showcase of classical music infused with ancient African tradition was the culmination of a series of concerts and public dialogues presented by Africa Arts. The series, titled Africa Connections, was aimed at fostering a new understanding of Africa and breaking down cultural paradigms about classical music.

Africa Connections has allowed audiences at a variety of venues in Cape Town to engage with Jegede and Ndodana-Breen on the subject of how their African roots and the continent’s classical traditions have impacted their work as modern composers.

Ndodana-Breen said on Friday that the Africa Day concert was also about re-imagining how we look at African creative expression.

Amanda Osorio and Bongani Ndodana-Breen

“We need to go beyond the stereotype of what African music is, locked in the ‘tourist curio’ realm of drums,” he said.

Soprano Osorio, who is also co-executive director of Africa Arts, said she was thrilled about the response to the organisation’s collaboration with the office of the premier of the Western Cape Government and Iziko Museums.

She said: “Africa Arts was very honoured that we could enable two African premieres and commission two world premieres with talented African classical music composers, and that the audience gave such a favourable reception.”

She said the event showed that there was a hunger in Africa for classical music experiences that showcased the talent on the continent and celebrated inclusivity in the arts scene.

Ndodana-Breen added: “Africa has ancient traditions, as we saw in Tunde Jegede playing the Kora but also it has modern artistic expression just like Europe or Asia.

“Yesterday’s concert could have been a concert of new music in London or New York. It had a modern cosmopolitan but African feel to it.”

 

On May 22:

Classical music infused with ancient African tradition

In honour of Africa Month, Capetonians will this week get the rare opportunity to engage with two internationally-renowned classical composers and hear how their African roots and the continent’s classical traditions have impacted their work as modern composers.

Africa Connections, a series of concerts and public dialogues, will showcase the classical music journey from ancient African kingdoms, such as Mali in the 12th century, to today. Presented by Africa Arts, the series is aimed at fostering a new understanding of Africa and breaking down cultural paradigms about classical music.

Africa Arts Group is a registered non-profit organisation that produces “innovative opera and classical music projects that celebrate the rich and diverse creative talent of South African artists”.

The concerts feature music by Nigerian kora master and composer Tunde Jegede, pictured left, and South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, internationally renowned African musicians who have infused Western music with African traditions. The composers have received international acclaim for works ranging from opera and chamber to symphonic music that are influenced by classical African cultures.

As a composer, Jegede has worked with major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and the London Mozart Players. Over the years, he has kept his creative diversity intact by working closely with singers, vocalists and spoken-word artists from a wide range of traditions, including opera, pop, R ‘n B, reggae, hip hop and jazz.

His own jazz ensemble, The Jazz Griots, was created to explore the connections between African and African diasporic forms of music and, in 1995, the BBC produced a television documentary, Africa: Remember, about his music.

South African composer Ndodana-Breen’s music is a blend of African and classical styles and reflects on various scenes from his native Xhosa culture.

He has received commissions from across the globe. According to The New York Times, his “delicately made music – airy, spacious, terribly complex but never convoluted – has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance”.

On Tuesday, May 23, the Institute for the Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town will present a rare opportunity to hear Jegede perform the kora, the West African harp-lute. The event will include a discussion and Q and A session with Jegede and Ndodana-Breen, who will be exploring African classical traditions and how they have impacted their compositions as modern composers.

On Wednesday, Jegede will perform his original African-infused music with some of Cape Town’s leading jazz musicians at Harringtons Cocktail Lounge on Harrington Street in the East City.

The series culminates with a gala event on Thursday, featuring world premieres of two new works by Jegede and Ndodana-Breen played by Africa Arts Ensemble Noir, a chamber orchestra of 15 players from Cape Town with the soprano soloist Amanda Osorio.

The event, commemorating Africa Day, will also showcase young talent from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay, featuring young musicians from the community of Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and Hangberg. The young musicians will entertain invited guests with lighter, popular African music.

The event will be streamed live at www.africaarts.co.za at 7pm on the day and recorded for a later radio broadcast.

Africa Connections is an Africa Month initiative curated by Africa Arts and presented in collaboration with the Western Cape Government, Iziko Museums of South Africa and the Institute for Creative Arts at UCT.

In addition to the live events, Africa Arts, in partnership with the Western Cape Government, will launch Africa Connections, a commemorative publication. The publication, to be launched at Iziko on Africa Day, May 25, is described as “highlighting the bonds between the Cape and the rest of the continent”.

More info http://www.africaarts.co.za/events

 

Musical feast at Durban’s beachfront festival

Durbanites look set to get a lot more than “what is needed” this weekend, May 26-28, when a star-studded line-up from around the world plays on two stages at the third annual Zakifo Music Festival at Blue Lagoon Beach.

Ray Phiri

“Sakifo means what is needed in Creole,” says Jerome Galabert, one of the event’s co founders.

Galabert, who owns Sakifo Musik Festival in Reunion Island as well as Reunion Electronic Groove, Francofolies and Ioma, added: “With Zakifo Durban our intention is the same.”

The organisers of the Durban festival describe the line-up of 22 acts from as far afield as the UK, Jamaica, Niger, Congo and Lesotho as “one of the most multi-genre global music line-ups ever gathered together in one festival programme”.

Damian ‘JR Gong’ Marley

Including a wide galaxy of stars from Damian “JR Gong” Marley, the son of the original Marley, to a number of South African favourites such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Ray Phiri and The Soil and Congolese-Belgian act Baloji, to Tuareg musician-activist Bombino and Ghana’s Jojo Abot, this festival promises a multi-cultural multi-genre feast.

The festival, from May 26-28, will take place on Durban’s promenade, with two stages, a cultural area, food carts and stalls, craft beer bars, local traders and interactive installations and art exhibits. The backdrop will be provided by crashing waves.

Zakifo, which was was started by Galabert, Sipho Sithole and Andy Davis, is part of a music festival circuit in Southern Africa that takes place over three weeks. Other events on the circuit are Sakifo festival in Reunion, Maputo’s Azgo festival, the Bassline Africa Day concert in Johannesburg and Swaziland’s Bushfire festival.

Award-winning South African a capella group The Soil

Sithole, festival co-founder and owner of Native Rhythms, said: “Zakifo is a destination festival, a people-to-people encounter … We guarantee you that over the years this festival will become part of travellers’ annual calendar coming from all over the world.”

Zakifo is hosted with support from the Department of Arts and Culture, East Coast Radio, Air Austral, eThekwini Municipality and Durban Tourism.

Tickets are available at Computicket.

Artists given licence to disrupt (as if they needed it)

2017 looks like the year disruption will come full circle at Grahamstown’s National Arts Festival, from June 29 to July 9. Last year’s call for proposals urged, challenged, prodded and provoked the original disruptors – artists – to shake things up a bit. We have just a few weeks to wait to see how they responded.

Urging dare devils and disruptors to enter their work for the 2017 festival, incoming executive producer Ashraf Johaardien said last year: “We want to examine how the arts challenges mainstream ways of thinking, its responses to disruptions to the status quo, as well as how it disrupts conventional artistic boundaries and conventions to create new artistic territories.”

‘Do more than think outside of the box … throw away the box…’

Johaardien said he hoped artists would “do more than think outside of the box” when responding to the theme, Art and Disruption.

“For me, this theme asks artists to throw away the box completely. Airbnb has revolutionised travel, Uber has reshaped transport and Netflix has changed the way we digest television. I am hoping we see submissions that do the same for the arts.”

Sounds like a challenge that the bad boys and girls of the arts world would have found irresistible. Roll on June 29!

But before I have a look at this year’s schedule let me take a look back at some of my (kinda disruptive) favourites from the National Arts Festival of 2016:

An ever-speeding descent into madness. Sound familiar?

AnimalFarmAn interpretation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm set in the modern South African context left audiences at the 2016 National Arts Festival struggling for air as they laughed and winced their way through an orgy of greed and corruption.

The show pulls no punches as it documents an ever-speeding descent into madness when the liberated become the oppressors. Hints that this ruling class at war with itself references recent goings on in Parliament in Cape Town builds more and more obviously until we have no doubt about whose “fire pool” we are splashing about in.

One can’t help thinking that some people really do set themselves up to be made fun of. This show capitalises cleverly on South Africa’s surplus of excellent material for satire.

This adaptation was originally created to help South African high school children better understand Animal Farm, a school set work, which should explain why it might, in the words of director Neil Coppen, “sometimes feel a bit 101 to people who are more political”.

Animal_Farm_-_1st_editionLeaving little room for misinterpretation didn’t come across as dumbing down at all, though. Stating what might be obvious to some is brave in a world where things are intentionally kept a bit vague so as to keep all options open.

The cast of five black women morph in and out of masculine and feminine roles and gender often seems to disappear. There are, however, moments when the audience is reminded of the overwhelming masculinity of most of our real-life power players.

The tempo and suspense builds to a crescendo, with all of us hanging to know what happens next…

The story behind the story: also deliciously demented

In her new play, In Bocca Al Lupo, at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Jemma Khan takes a slight detour from the delicious and demented make-believe world we know her for and tells us a little about her life, and it turns out to be quite delicious and demented too.

Kahn is best known for her two previous shows, the international cult hit The Epicene Butcher and last year’s sellout success, We Didn’t Come To Hell For The Croissants.

She plays all characters in In Bocca Al Lupo herself, employing various cunning tricks and technologies that make it feel like we are watching her interact with others.

JemmaKahnAfter finishing her degree, Kahn tells us, she decided not to follow the well-trodden path of a drama graduate (along the lines of get degree, get agent, develop eating disorder, become estate agent). She has the audience in stitches as she paints a very funny and somewhat scandalous picture of a few horrible, if interesting, years travelling the world and trying to work out what she was going to do with her life.

Bocca Al Lupo translates to Into the mouth of the wolf, which she tells us Italians use as a good luck phrase much the same way as English speakers say Break a leg. Into the mouth of the wolf sounds about right as a description of her time in Japan and Ireland.

If her life is not, in fact, filled with lovable and loving people, she does a very good job of making it look like it is. With the exception of the Speed-guzzling, posh-hating Irish boyfriend, who sounds like he could have done with a good telling off and probably a scrub, her characters are all damn near adorable. Who wouldn’t like a granma called Fufu who helps fund your dreams.

The play has its sad moments (whose life doesn’t?), but mostly this beautifully illustrated tale has us laughing our way around the world. Her use of Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theatre where a sequence of images are displayed in a frame to help tell stories, is as slick as it is visually pleasing.

A great storyteller telling a great story!

https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/

 

 

 

 

Back by popular demand: #FeesMustFall

front-sizwesandisile-back-ameera-conrad-oarabile-ditsele-tankiso-mamabolo-cleo-raatus-sihle-mnqwazana-thando-mangcu-in-the-fall-pic-by-oscar-o-ryan

The relevance of this show is magnified by the intimacy the performers have with the stories. Pic Paul O’Ryan

Back by popular demand! The Fall will be showing at Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from June 8 to 24.

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair of Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University, wrote of The Fall: “With all the images of violence in the media, it can be easy to lose sight of what sustains the journey that began with Rhodes. The Fall takes back the narrative and invites the audience to look beyond the headlines and to see the real human stories. It is a powerfully acted play, a profoundly complex and moving portrait of students’ struggle to free themselves from the burden of the historical legacy they inherited.”

and we said …

#FeesMustFall, #FindTheMoney, October 2016:

What a pity that before assembling a team to look into the cost of higher education – a team that, incidentally, looks better suited to dealing with international espionage – President Jacob Zuma didn’t spend some time this week as a member of an audience at the Baxter Theatre marveling at our country’s young people.

In watching The Fall: All Rhodes Lead To Decolonisation he could have heard firsthand the informed and eloquent arguments of a diverse group of recent UCT graduates who were involved in last year’s seminal #RhodesMustFall protests.

Perhaps we can still hope that one or more of his newly assembled “funding for fees” team – which oddly includes the minister of state security and the minister of defence and military veterans, but excludes the minister of finance – will see the show. It is on until October 29 and seems quite likely to move somewhere else after that.

The relevance of watching this production while universities around the country are exploding with anger and frustration is magnified by the obvious intimacy the performers have with the stories.

The frank, collaborative piece of workshop theatre was devised by the cast, with facilitation from Clare Stopford. Oarabile Ditsele, Tankiso Mamabolo, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Sihle Mnqwazana, Cleo Raatus, Ameera Conrad and Thando Mangcu draw on their own experiences, making for a richly textured depiction of the issues and ideologies present in the movement. The production is directed by Conrad and Mangcu.

oarabile-ditsele-ameera-conrad-sizwesandisile-mnisi-tankiso-mamabolo-cleo-raatus-sihle-mnqwazana-of-the-fall-pic-by-oscar-o-ryan

The Fall: a frank, collaborative piece of workshop theatre devised by the cast. Pic: Oscar O’ Ryan

The subject matter is expanded beyond statues and fees, syllabi and social classifications. Discussions of race, class and gender, patriarchy and sexism are all expanded to what feels like the edges and beyond.

A surprising and subtly handled storyline focuses around Cleo, who identifies outside of the normative gender labels. This narrative relating a personal non-binary experience in a hetero-normative landscape also provokes a challenge to media bias.

Where are all the queer bodies, the trans bodies, Cleo asks. Why aren’t they represented in history or media coverage? After all, no one doubts that they turn up when they are needed, “manning” the barricades when there is a fight to be fought.

The absurdity of racism is laid bare in ways that frequently make the audience wince. Humour provides great (if occasional) relief.

We smile a rather grim smile as we hear about the moment when, as the statue of Cecil John Rhodes is finally being removed, it dangles above the plinth for a moment “as if deciding whether to go, or to fall and crush the black bodies beneath it”.

As much as that moment of removal was invested with much meaning, a moment when, in one performer’s words, the “ancestors’ dignity was restored” it was just a moment, a moment that has passed. The play goes on to unpack how this symbolic moment extended into a series of other pivotal moments.

Moments when dignity is restored are few; much more often it is the opposite.

In one excruciating moment the audience is given some insight into the horror of proving you are poor enough to be given a loan to help with fees. Here, all of the family’s shame must be laid out for all to see, often over and over.

The shame of association is piled on some of us when one of the students talks about a white classmate saying that black people were better suited to working outdoors because of the pigment in their skin. White people, according to this theory, needed to remain indoors … running things, you know, governing and so on.

Those familiar with the preference for shortening “tricky” names turned scarlet when we were told to: “Learn my name!” A second lash of shame was delivered with “like I have learned the names of Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky”.

2PoliceChain 1PoliceChainAnd so the struggles – long and short, big and small – continue. #RhodesMustFall, #OutsourcingMustFall, #BladeMustFall, #FeesMustFall.

At the heart of it all lies South Africa’s stalled transformation process. We are left feeling that money must be found to fund this part of decolonisation.

Maybe there is some money in the defence budget? Extra cash in the state security system’s coffers?

Aah I see now … maybe the ministers of state security and defence and military veterans might be able to help after all.

Precious drinking water running down the toilet

As water experts gather for seminars to discuss the Cape’s crisis and pop groups record songs to help people manage the time they spend in the shower, thousands of litres of drinking water continues to run down the toilet.

www.bobtheplumber.co.za

Robert Ince, from Cape Town-based company Bob The Plumber, says there are many small and effective ways that each household can save water. He says his company is delivering flow restrictors to clients and being called out to install some grey water systems, but the public in general is “waking up quite slowly” to what they can do.

It will surprise many, and (please God) shock at least some into action, to hear that flushing the toilet is our second highest use of potable water. That means drinking water is running down the toilet, hundreds of thousands of litres of it.

A simple solution that every household can start implementing immediately is flushing the toilet with grey water at least some of the time. No system or installation is required, the total investment is a plastic bucket, and effort involved is minimal.

A bucket placed in the shower as the water runs to warm up and alongside the person as they shower will collect quite a lot of water even during the recommended two-minute shower. This might raise awareness of how much water is being used per shower and will definitely collect water to be used for DIY flushes.

When the toilet needs a flush some of the contents of the bucket can be poured directly into the bowl to flush it. One doesn’t even have to lift the lid of the cistern. Sometimes the water is slightly soapy but what is the harm in putting some detergent into the toilet.

Ince said flushing the toilet used between 6.5 litres for the modern cistern and 13 litres for the older model of toilet per flush. Imagine if every household in Cape Town used grey water instead of potable water for just a few flushes a day.

There was a time not so long ago when gardeners were using grey water saved like this to keep herb gardens and so on going, but Tokai mother-of-two, Anne Taylor tells us, things are so bad now that most people feel that is too decadent a luxury.

A simple attachment that reroutes water from the washing machine to the garden

Taylor, who described herself as a “water warrior from the Eastern Cape”, recommended a simple small attachment which she fitted to her washing machine outlet pipe that reroutes grey water to her garden. She warns people to get advice on the size of the pipe so as not to damage the machine in any way.

Ince added that attaching a flow restrictor to a showerhead is another very easy way to save water. The restrictors, which are designed to fit “99 percent of shower heads on the market today”, are small devices with a huge impact, he says.

Households that are able to spend a little money to save a lot of water could install a grey water recycling system with a pump, which improves household water use dramatically.

Another smaller intervention suggested by Ince is to get a plumber out to adjust the pressure regulation on the water supply. He said many homes were set to six bars, which meant that a lot of water was just running down the drain, when two bars was normally sufficient.

The City of Cape Town has recommended the implementation of stringent Level 4 water restrictions, which may come into effect from the beginning of June, which would ban all use of municipal water for outside and non-essential use.

Cape Town’s dam levels are critically low with only around 10% of usable water remaining.

– African News Agency

Education crisis ‘the civil rights struggle of the day’

#FeesMustFall protests South Africa October 2016

Respected African elder statesman Jakaya Kikwete told the World Economic Forum’s Africa meetings in Durban that the education crisis in Africa was today’s civil rights struggle, and called on leaders in the developed and developing worlds to act urgently.

Tanzania’s former president was speaking in his capacity as Special Envoy for the Education Commission, a global body convened in September 2015 to address the crisis in education in low to middle-income countries.

The commission called a briefing of journalists gathered for the WEF Africa 2017 meetings in May to announce a “breakthrough” international finance facility for education, which it called “an essential step to ensure the Sustainable Development Goal of an inclusive and quality education for all is met by 2030”.

The commission was convened by a number of concerned world leaders, from the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to the prime minister of Norway and the president of Chile and many others.

Jakaya Kikwete

Kikwete said this august body had put together a team of 27 commissioners from around the world to tackle the crisis. These experts in knowledge and education and other relevant fields include eight Africans, all of whom pack a power punch globally, including Kikwete himself, as well as Graca Machel, Zimbabwe’s Strive Masiyiwa and Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote.

The commission’s preliminary findings confirmed that the world is facing alarming education crisis that is significantly more pronounced in the lower and middle income countries. Kikwete noted that this meant all of Africa since the continent had no high income countries.

The commission found that education standards in these countries lagged high income countries by as much as 70 years.

Kikwete, who has recently completed a research tour of an initial 14 African countries, said there are 100 million youngsters out of school in Africa of a global total of 263 million. At current projections, he added, that figure would have grown to 130 million by 2030.

And, for those who did start school, he said, completion rates were low, with too many dropouts at all levels of education.

As things improved in other countries, they seemed to get worse in Africa, Kikwete said. It hardly bears thinking about what the numbers would be by 2050 “when two billion jobs will have been replaced by automation”.

He talked to the dual problem of limited resources not being used wisely. As an example of what could be done with limited funds Kikwete mentioned Tunisia and Vietnam, countries with similar GDP per capita but where learning outcomes are dramatically different. Where a learning outcome in Tunisia averaged 64 percent, in Vietnam it was 96 percent.

WEF’s Maxwell Hall, Jakaya Kikwete and Caroline Kende-Robb

The chief adviser to the commission, Caroline Kende-Robb, told the briefing that the problem was magnified by changes in the aid world. As the education crisis had become more pronounced education’s share of aid had declined.

Kikwete said the commission was calling for an “unprecedented intervention” into this “grave” situation to facilitate a catch-up with high income countries.

The commission is calling for a compact between high and low income countries where developing countries commit to a plan of action to improve education outcomes, and developed countries commit to supporting them in this.

The big news at WEF was that the commission plans to create a fund of $10 billion annually as an international financing facility for education to support the aims of this compact.

When journalists asked how this proposal would be different from other grand development plans that had failed to transform things on the ground, Kende-Robb said this was not just about handing money out but rather a partnership.

She told Call Off the Search after the briefing that funding would be linked very closely to specific outcomes that would be measured on the ground. The obvious, such as pass rates and attendance at school (by teachers as well as pupils), would be accompanied by other measures of things like willingness to innovate and adopt modern practices.

The proposed fund would be used to provide grants as well as to provide loan guarantees and to subsidise interest payments. But it is early days yet and journalists seeking detail about implementation of the proposal, which the commission will be taking to the upcoming G20 summit in Germany in July, were disappointed.

All eyes will be on Germany in July but in the meantime the commission will continue its work closer to home. The next step is a methodologies workshop Nairobi in May, where delegates from across Africa will go into detail, Kikwete said, identifying challenges as well as solutions and how to cost them.

Whatever the outcome of these meetings on the continent and abroad, Kikwete said, dealing with this crisis was everyone’s concern. If the education crisis in low and middle income countries was not tackled, he said, by 2050 there would be a “huge surge” of migrants from the affected countries.

“Everybody has an obligation to support these countries … the effects will touch all of us.”

A connection, a picture, a story is worth a million miles

Star Alliance is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a worldwide competition celebrating cultural connections made by travellers in which entrants stand a chance to win a million frequent flyer miles.

Jeffrey Goh, Star Alliance chief executive, said: “As part of our 20th anniversary, we are celebrating the strength of human and cultural connections. In order to continue building these, together with our member airlines, we are offering travellers a truly unique prize.”

All 21 Star Alliance member programmes are participating in the competition, which runs until July 31. People who are not already members of a Star Alliance programme can sign-up online and receive a membership number to participate.

To enter, travellers must upload a profile picture or selfie, as well as a picture and info about their favourite cultural experience. Information must include what made it so special and how it relates to the broader Star Alliance anniversary campaign theme of connecting people and cultures.

All entries will be screened for basic photographic quality and other general criteria. Once approved, they will be posted on a cultural experiences map on the competition homepage. Star Alliance said this map would give customers from all over the world an interactive map of insider tips and experiences from other travellers.

The statement added that the winner would perhaps like to spend their prize on a first-class round-the-world ticket for themselves and a partner, or maybe they would choose to fly 20 of their friends to Hawaii.

To inspire their members, each of the 28 Star Alliance member carriers has come up with a local piece of cultural inspiration. Founding airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai and United, have taken it one step further by challenging National Geographic’s Travel Nomad, Robert Reid, to test their recommendations personally and report back on his experiences.

Lufthansa, for example, flew Reid to the highest village in Europe, in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, to watch the hazardous, high-altitude horse race in Ushguli.

Open Streets Cape Town PHOTO Lisa Burnell, Cape Town Partnership

Other examples included tile painting in Portugal, home cooking in Shenzhen, China, and joining the locals in Bogota as they turn major roads in the city into cycle paths on Sundays, something Capetonians experience in their own city regularly with Open Streets Sundays, when the city is closed to motorised transport in an event inspired by the Colombian movement.

To watch the films of the five challenges, see www.staralliance.com/culturalexperiences.

The competition is available in all nine Star Alliance website languages. Judging will be carried out independently by Star Alliance’s 20th anniversary partner, National Geographic, and winners will be announced on September 28.

More info: www.staralliance.com/mileagemillionaire.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Afropunk is coming to Africa (Jozi strikes gold again)

This year’s theme, We The People, was chosen to coincide with Afropunk’s first Johannesburg outing

Johannesburg will in December join New York, Atlanta, London and Paris as cities hosting global Afropunk events.

The first batch of performers for the inaugural festival on December 30 and 31 – “two nights of music, style, art and food” on the city’s Constitution Hill – was announced by Sal Masekela at an event at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail.

In the footsteps of giants: artists who have performed at past festivals include Grace Jones and Lenny Kravitz

The site of the notorious Old Fort Prison Complex and the Constitutional Court is a powerful choice of venue. The hill has seen it all: violent criminals and political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, held side by side, as well as all the goings on in the highest court in the land.

Dawn Robertson, chief executive of Constitution Hill, was quoted as saying this place of injustice, brutality and the violation of human rights as well as of solidarity and democracy is a “most fitting home for Afropunk”.

More than music: Afropunk is a cultural movement

The Afropunk Festival – the first of which was held Brooklyn, in New York, 14 years ago – is described as a “musical institution, defining culture in the music world for more than 14 years, a triumph of multiculturalism and diversity for people of all races, genders, colours, creeds and tastes”.

Johannesburg is seen as a “natural fit” considering Afropunk’s “desire to make connections throughout the diaspora”.

Style and substance: Afropunk is HOT! and cool all at once

“The Afropunk mindset is less concerned with genres and pigeonholes, than the strength and unity of otherness.

“Modern South Africa is proof of the victory of otherness over historical precedent, and of the country’s desire to mould a society based on virtues that are at the core of Afropunk,” the statement added.

“We are excited about collaborating with South African artists, audiences and service providers in a similar way as we do in America and in Europe, as we establish Afropunk in Africa,” said festival co-creator Matthew Morgan.

Music at Afropunk Joburg will include house, kwaito, punk, hip-hop, soul, reggae, roots and pop

He said music at the Afropunk Johannesburg celebration would be “thoughtfully curated” and include house, kwaito, punk, hip-hop, soul, reggae, roots, pop and other genres.

The event is scheduled to culminate “in an unforgettable New Year’s Eve party in this awesome African city”.

In the footsteps of giants …

Artists who have performed at past Afropunk festivals include Grace Jones, D’Angelo, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Erykah Badu and Ice Cube.

We, The People: Uber cool Mzansi

The early line-up for the three stages at Afropunk Johannesburg includes: Solange, Laura Mvula, King Tha vs. Blk Jks, Theo Parrish, The Brother Moves On, Spoek Mathambo, Black Motion, God’s Sons & Daughters, Manthe Ribane & OKZharp, DJ Lag, Urban Village, Nakhane Toure, Nonku Phiri and TCIYF.

This year’s theme is We, The People, the phrase that starts both the American and South African constitutions. It was chosen to coincide with Afropunk’s first outing in Johannesburg … “which makes the Constitution Hill venue even more poignant,” said Morgan.

Think out of the box, put the farm into one

Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja with fellow breakthrough female tech entrepreneurs: FinFind’s Darlene Menzies, left, and Aisha Pandor of SweepSouth, right

In this age of Eat Local campaigns, one might be a little alarmed to encounter vegetables called rucola, petite-this and mange-that, on a plate in the Nigerian capital, but fear not, Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja told a briefing at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Africa 2017 meetings in Durban, these micro greens are not just grown near Abuja, they are grown within the teeming metropolis.

This young Nigerian, a winner of the World Economic Forum’s Top Women Innovators Award, has turned adversity and a modern city’s hunger for imported vegetables into a thriving business.

She grows micro greens in shipping containers in town, allowing her to add “hyper local” to the tag.

The founder and chief executive of Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services in Nigeria said her business started with a regular farm, but making a success of that proved so challenging that she was forced to innovate.

The business started with 10 greenhouses on a leased 300 hectare farm. The green houses took up only a small part of the land, with the rest covered by trees. Beside the cost of clearing, which would have been exorbitant, Angel said, she had a problem with the idea of displacing forest.

An additional problem was that the farm was three hours from market.

As any farmer will confirm, this business is not for the faint-hearted. Angel told the briefing on the last day of the WEF Africa meetings in Durban that small farmers like herself could expect to lose up to 50 percent of their crop before harvest. Lack of funds compounds problems around a shortage of information and lack of inputs and tools.

Access to finance would be a game changer for farmers, but bank loans are usually available only to landowners in Nigeria.

“First I need to be rich before I can get a loan,” Angel said.

Transporting often-delicate, perishable goods along bad roads and a lack of storage facilities added to problems which meant that, she added, another 25 percent of produce could be lost from farm to market.

Not just for rabbits: hipsters like them too

Another challenge that forced a rethink of the business was when the fuel price increased from 87 Naira a litre to above 200 Naira in a short period of time.

It was these and other challenges that forced Fresh Direct to innovate and “pivot”, as she described it, and develop their genius plan to grow vegetables in town. The business now grows micro greens in containers stacked five high at two sites in Abuja.

Each 20-foot shipping container would fit a car – instead they take 4,000 plants per cycle, with a cycle lasting from seven days to a month.

The vegetables are produced using a hydroponic method where plants are grown in nutrient-filled water, rather than soil. The business is moving into aquaponics too, where fish are added to the system to enhance the cycle.

This is a long way away from fast food, but the vegetables can be delivered to customers 15 minutes after they are harvested and washed.

Fresh Direct’s customers are restaurants, hotels and grocery stores. “The nice thing with corporate customers is that they are consistent,” Angel said.

An outlet in Lagos will soon be added to the two already operating in Abuja. In Lagos, Angel said she expects to tap into an ever bigger demand for micro greens, niche foods that are a favourite of modern chefs, foodies and other hipster types.

Fresh Direct currently employs 10 people full-time and another 59 part-time, many of whom would find it hard to secure good jobs elsewhere. Angel told the WEF briefing that not one of her staff had gone to secondary school and just one had previous agricultural experience.

She said her staff called themselves “tech farmers” in a country where farming is sometimes looked down on as a less-than-dignified career.

Angel clearly doesn’t look down on traditional farming. In fact, she seemed pleased and relieved to say that doing the fancy vegetables, rather than staple foods, meant she was not competing with traditional rural farmers, rather they were providing vegetables that were otherwise imported.

A break from life’s fools, double crossers, wrecking balls …

Perfectly timed chaos: Russel Savadier, Louis Viljoen, Roberto Pombo and Nicole Franco PICTURE Christiaan Kotze

A motley crew of fools, an evil seductress and many a double crosser mucking about, stabbing each other in the back, wrecking the place. Sound familiar? The good news is that this is the theatre: art imitating life, one might say.

That said, The Play That Goes Wrong, showing at the Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay until June 17, is actually a wonderful, side-splitting break from real life and its clowns and their wrecking balls.

Sticking to the story: Robert Fridjhon and Sive Gubangxa PICTURE Christiaan Kotze

The show starts with an amateur drama society staging a 1920s murder mystery. Everything that could possibly go wrong does and the production quickly descends into absolute chaos.

The audience are frequently weak with laughter but are soon shocked back to their senses by what look like potentially catastrophic near misses. Doors get opened in faces, people fall or get pushed out of windows and violence erupts between the ladies.

There is all manner of chaos as the set collapses around the cast. Somehow the actors doggedly pursue the storyline to the end. But do I remember who killed whom? I haven’t the faintest. It is just too funny to care, even for those (who shall remain nameless) who think they are too serious for slapstick.

This very slick, very funny show is directed by Alan Committie and features a top-notch comedy cast including Roberto Pombo, Nicole Franco, Louis Viljoen, Sive Gubangxa, Robert Fridjhon, Theo Landy, Russel Savadier and Craig Jackson.

If it can go wrong it does PICTURE Christiaan Kotze

The Play That Goes Wrong – part farce, part slapstick, 100 percent hysterical – went on to be a hit globally after winning a number of major awards on the London stage. Even Patsy (Joanna Lumley) loved it: “We laughed until the tears ran down our faces! It has to be seen!”

This South African production comes to Cape Town after a sell out season in Johannesburg.

Mucking about while everything falls apart might sound ominously familiar, but this show really will make you forget about real life for a bit.

– African News Agency (ANA)