New generation takes over cultural glamour

THE Africa Day Benefit Concert At Home was held on May 25. British actor Idris Elba, together with ViacomCBS Networks Africa and YouTube hosted the gig to raise funds for food and health assistance in Africa’s response to Covid-19.

Admire Kudita

Mother of all shows

The concert was aimed at raising funds to help families and children on the continent affected by the coronavirus. The benefitting organisations are the World Food Programme and Unicef.

“Taking a moment to shine a light on African arts to benefit the African homeland and its people. A continent of this size should find a way to dig deep and stand up for one another at a time like this. It’s important for the future and history will not forget,” Elba said in an interview with international media.
Performances were by a diverse and sparkling galaxy of some of Africa’s current hottest musicians such as Davido, AKA; Angelique Kidjo; Bebe Cool; Burna Boy; Busiswa; C4 Pedro; Diamond Platnumz; DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small; Fally Ipupa; Ismael Lo; Kida Kudz; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; M.anifest; Nandy; Ndlovu Youth Choir; Nasty C; Salif Keita; Sauti Sol; Seun Kuti; Sho Madjozi; Stonebwoy; Teni; Tiwa Savage; Toofan; and Yemi Alade.

The show kicked off with an address by African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African President.

“We will have to adapt to a new way of life, a new normal . . . Let us continue with this spirit of unity of purpose and action…Together we are stronger, together we can and shall overcome.”

Standout moments

Davido set the tone as the opening act with a lush, mid-tempo Afrobeat groove. Davido never disappoints. He can switch his vocalising from smooth to gruff, with devastating effect. He did it for me. The show had begun and, with the bar set so high, one knew that the world was poised for a massive party.
“Africa is now!” one of the artistes who were asked to describe Africa in three words, said.

Interspersed with special appearances by a host of Afro-American artistes such as Anthony Hamilton; Falz; Fat Joe; French Montana; Irene Agbontaen; Ludacris; Masai Ujiri; Nomzamo Mbatha; Omari Hardwick; Pearl Thusi; Rotimi; Sean Paul; Serge Ibaka; Trevor Noah; Vanessa Mdee; Winston Duke; and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, the Davido act was followed by Sho Madjozi , the BET best international act winner of 2019.

She is famous for her gqom hit song John Cena, a WWE celebrity wrestler. Madjozi, is unique and maybe that is part of why she catches attention. I do not know how to describe her music.

Sauti Sol, which started off as an acapella, brought the mellifluous vocal chops backed by an acoustic vibe that flowed like molten lava burning through stony hearts. Yep, Sauti Sol is one of Africa’s finest ones and deserves that spotlight. Sauti Sol is a Kenyan Afro-pop band formed in Nairobi by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi in 2005. They are signed to Universal Music Africa and have in the past won MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act and MTV Africa Music Award for Best Group.

I discovered rising artistes such as Teni from Nigeria, thanks to the gig. She rendered her plaintive Uyo Meyo hit. I recommitted myself to listening to more African music, especially the contemporary ones. I may know of the Davidos and the Fela Kutis, but the likes of Teni are yet to percolate and they need to percolate right across African soil. The music is rich and evocative. Another discovery was C4 Pedro from Angola.

M.anifest talent

Ghana hip hop star M.anifest killed the rap game when he came on and his flow proved him to be one of the most gifted lyricists in the world and the violin-backed set he performed just lifted the mood of the eclectic soundscape of the benefit concert.

Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage held up her end of the show. She can belt with some of the best female artistes out there. It was during Stonebwoy’s performance that I could not help think about our own Zimbabwean artistes. Of course , Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe were among the nations from southern Africa, which were not represent. Stonebwoy has done well for himself, winning the BET best international act in 2015. I could not see much of a difference between him and Winky D. But we will get back to that later.

Diamond Platinumz

The comments section after the show has been dominated by rave reviews of Diamond Platinumz, whose performance of his punchy song Jeje could well have been a video script. It played as such.

It starts with a scantily clad female video vixen serving him breakfast in bed and takes viewers through the mansion, which the artiste lives in presumably. Yep, it sold the dream of fame and fortune many wanna-be musos have upon entering this business but few actually get to realise. I do not how well Diamond Platinumz is doing, but his legion of fans was knocked out by the creativity of his performance. So was I.

The East African fans call him Simba, a title which Cassper Nyovest also claims. Simba is kiSwahili for lion. Who is the king of the African showbiz jungle? By the performance he gave, Diamond is basking in the lorry of fan adulation. Music elders Angelique Kidjo and Ismael Lo graced the mainly youth-dominated concert, but the fact is that a new generation has taken over in cultural terms. It just has not happened in politics.

Parting shot

I asked on one of the social media platforms why Zimbabwean musicians are not out there. I ask again why it seems the musicians we have can only go as far as the national galas and occasional excursions on overseas “tours”. Something needs to change. Soon!