Venda welcomed in the onset of Spring with the staging of the fifth edition of the annual Phalaphala Royal Heritage Festival on the banks of Nandoni Dam from Saturday morning, until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
The brainchild of Craze Radimane and other partners at Tsalena Media – the event went down in conjunction with Phalaphala FM, SABC 2 and the Department of Arts & Culture and featured close on 40 artists offering an eclectic mix of beats catering to a cross-section of musical tastes.
The highly-charged affair unleashed delights to the hearing senses of a vast and appreciative audience with an impressive lineup of genres ranging from Maskandi, Hip-Hop, Afropop, Reggae and onto Gospel and other forms such as Afro Jazz and House .
The exponents numbered the usual suspects such as, Thandiswa Mazwai, Sfiso Ncwane, Malwela, Riky Rick, Nathi [featuring Vusi Nova], Kwesta, Nasty C, Heavy K, Dj Ganyani, Dj Zinhle, Shwi Nomtekhala, Colbert Mukwevho and many others; not so familiar but who belted out beats the lively crowd responded enthusiastically to.
Taking place in a region of the country blessed with an ever-green topography outlaid with mango groves, avocado arbour, macadamia nut plantations and timberland stretching out to the distance of the surrounding dense mountain chain – the festival’s latest edition packed in droves of locals and visitors who brought along their camping chairs, picnic baskets and cooler boxes to set up their spots to the area immediately opposite the hi-tech stage erected just above the upper banks of the dam situated a few minutes’ drive from Thohoyandou.
Further up the foreground was where large white marquees stood facing the stage below and housing VIPs ranging from deputy minister Obed Bapela, SABC celebrities such as Chris Bongo, Phalaphala FM sports presenter Thilivhali “Big T” Muavha, Showville co-presenter Bontle Modiselle – to soapie stars such as Nobuhle Mimi Mahlasela “Aggie” on 7de Laan, Mduduzi Mabaso “Suffocate” Rhythm City, a host of Muvhango actors like Raphael Griffiths “Vusi”, Lesley Musina “Ndalamo”, Suzan Ravuku “Thifhelimbiu” as well as others fellow guests clamoured for whose attention – as they mobbed them literally at every twist and turn.
Rhythm City’s Mabaso, in particular, was a hit with the concert-goers and one fan backstage warmingly enquired from the actor if he was anything like his television character in real life.
Mabaso even obliged some star struck SAPS officers who were part of the security detail accompanying Bapela – for snaps. Snappily attired, Muvhango’s Musina seemed the countless ladies’ choice of pic-with-a-celeb, as they went out of their way to seek out the handsome and affable star.
The VIP area was the area to be and was awash with the well-heeled, hordes of babes in their most appealing and salivating of wardrobes, cigar-chomping metrosexuals in designer attire swigging ample cognac whilst impressing various circles with the latest dance moves – all the while the booze flowed gratis and freely and pretty waitresses and efficient waiters worked the space around to collect and deliver orders of drinks and food platters.
The section had fairground-esque decks dotted with led screens issuing the live feed of the on-goings from the stage below – from which guests danced, fagged, cackled laughter, toasted the present moment, reflected on progresses and challenges in their lives and generally savoured being part of the occasion.
At some stage close to midnight as the marathon programme kept on unfolding with sets of varying duration according to the organizers’ running order and caliber of artist, a light drizzle lashed the gathering but couldn’t dampen the spirits of the audience as they continued focusing on their sonic fill all the while further down the bank, the splash would be punctuated by spectacular bursts of colourful fireworks shooting high up into the night!
The festival’s organizers kept the order of things liberal backstage as some fans accredited to be in the area had the laissez faire of interacting with the performers upon coming off the stage and straight to interviews with a Selimathunzi camera crew and photo ops with press photographers. These had to jostle with the enthusiastic lot for footages and images of the stars as they were determined to have their selfies recorded with their objects of affection.
The likes of Sfiso Ncwane, Kwesta, Riky Rick, Dj Ganyani – relegated to lalaland any question of sleep as, when their turns came for their sets in the early hours of Sunday morning, they duly obliged the enduring thousands with the sort of stagecraft their individual brands have come to be associated with.
Among the crowd, you could feel the spirit of homecoming and catching up for those from the area who had to relocate to workplaces such as Gauteng and those who had stayed behind in the former homeland – as they reflected on visiting families, friends and schoolmates under festival circumstances!
The fifth edition of the Royal Heritage Festival was a celebratory splash as it was a marathon of sonic delights catering for every guest’s preference – and was indeed an apt way to welcome Spring.