The third annual Zakifo Music Festival took place at Blue Lagoon this year and as always it promised to be an epic festival for eclectic music lovers.
It was an unusually cold weekend in Durban for the 3 days of the festival but people came out nevertheless to experience a world-class line-up. The lineup worked to solidify one of the festival’s intentions which are to showcase a cross-cultural exchange of artists. The set up consisted of two main stages and we could go from one stage to another as soon as the acts on one stage were done and the other stage lit up.
Friday night started off with the classical and jazz sounds of Jobie Clarke who welcomed us all with a calming spirit and a set that made us all look forward to what would follow. Lu Dlamini followed with a mesmerising performance that got most people standing and moving slowly to her smooth and graceful sound. As soon as Lu Dlamini’s set ended the next stage started luring people to it with the soft sounds of percussion instruments and people started gravitating towards it.
By the time Thandiswa Mazwai’s unmistakable voice echoed on the Blue Lagoon grounds the amount of people who were on the grounds had doubled. She was undoubtedly the headline artist for the night as the grounds filled up and the audience sang along to her Xhosa rhythms and swayed to the jazz and funk sounds provided by her band.
Ray Phiri went on next hitting everybody with a bit of nostalgia with his iconic jazz set delivered with the energy of a young man at heart.
Baloji culminated the night with his charismatic raps and afrocentric Hiphop instrumentals that had the crowd dancing throughout his set.
Saturday evening had the likes of Bongeziwe Mabandla, Gangs Of Ballet, Nova Twins, Tiggs Da Author, Birdy Nam Nam and The Soil sharing the two different stages. Throughout the evening one could dance to an eclectic range of sounds from Hiphop, Jazz, Grime, Soul and heavy Urban Punk. It was The Soil who slowed things down with their acapella set and ultimately stole the show that night. It felt like the crowd was singing along to every lyric with their hands in the air in unity. Tey truly delivered a stellar performance, one that everyone seemed to talk about even after they had left the stage.
Sundays festival activities started early with Durban based electronic Dj and producer Missu who eased the crowd into the performance of Durban Duo Easy Freak. Easy Freak welcomed the crowd to the last day of the festival with a mix of rock, funk and electro. They were followed by the Sax Machine from the USA, Kommanda Obbs from Lesotho, Jojo Abot from Ghana and our very own Petite Noir. Petite Noirs set boasted a broad range of sounds which were a trip sonically because of how borderless yet endemic they were.
As soon as the lights went off on the first stage where Petite was performing everyone gravitated to the quiet stage where a man waving a flag around stood. Everyone stood in excitement as they waited for the crown jewel of the festival Damian Marley to grace the stage. The band started with an instrumental intro that was a build up that eventually bought out Damian Marley. The grounds were the most packed that I had seen them since the festival started. Damian Marley started chanting in a powerful voice and the crowd seemed to chant with him. Throughout his set, he moved from his loud songs all the way to his soft ones all with the full attention of the crowd. It was the perfect way to close off the festival. Almost every genre of music was covered at the festival and it seemed everyone’s musical taste was catered too.
Words by: Nana Sokhulu
Photography By: Rejoice Kunene