Africa Now! celebrates at Carnegie Hall

Angelique Kidjo engages the audience in the most loving way and invited fans to join her on stage to dance.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

It was 1994 that South Africans decided a new path for their nation. The democratic process elected Nelson Mandela the very first Black leader of the richest African nation and also outlawed an antiquated system that categorized citizens according to their race. That same process afforded a privileged few to benefit while enslaving the masses that occupied the vast and beautiful most southern land mass on the continent. Apartheid flourished under the Dutch, Afrikaaners but was rebuked by a majority of governments, and organizations which banned the nation from participation in international competitions — beauty pageants, World Cup Soccer and a myriad of other important events.

Two decades later, Carnegie Hall celebrates the transition with a month-long music and arts festival billed Ubuntu.

Slated to end Nov. 5, the festival dedicated to Nelson Mandela translates to interpret a philosophy that “emphasizes the importance of community influencing recent moves of reconciliation and inclusion in South Africa.”

Billed to perform: Angelique Kidjo (Nov. 5, 8:00 p.m.), Ladysmith (Oct. 18, 8:00 p.m.) Abdulla Ibrahim (Oct. 20, 7:00 p.m.) Hugh Masekela (Oct. 10 at 8 p.m.) and a roster that includes: Phuzekhemisis, Pretty Yende and the Kuumba Collective and many others.

The word Ubuntu actually translates to “I am because you are.”

Also celebrating 20 years of freedom in South Africa, the Harlem-located, uptown landmark the Apollo Theater bills — “Africa Now! South Africa.”

Featuring music and a panel discussion through an entire weekend festival, partnership with the World Music Institute combines the celebration.

“The Harlem/South Africa Connection” panel discussion focusing on “Harlem’s enduring social, political, and cultural relationship with South Africa” begins at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. Panelists include Harry Belafonte and former Mayor David N. Dinkins.

The weekend festival includes an all-day Friday showcase and educational offering to school-aged youths beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The spotlight will focus on the next generation of South African music makers when trumpeter Masekela hosts a special Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. presentation.

Simphiwe Dana, The Soil and the Muffinz are expected to provide a peek into the future of the infectious music.

“Joburg” is buzzing about its newest favorite Afro-Jazz band, The Muffinz.”

“They are young and immensely talented, but have old souls that would make Hugh Masekela and peers young all over again.”

“Think Miriam Makeba meets Erykah Badu,” that is how promoters of the concert introduce award-winning South African vocal group, The Soil. Known for their Kasi soul blend of rhythmic vocal bass lines, beat-boxing, and the “type of sublime harmonies made famous by groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Soweto Gospel Choir,” The Soil along with Dana and Tumi Molekani are expected to offer a triple-treat. Dana is described as “a sultry Xhosa singer who fuses traditional music with jazz, R&B and Afro-Soul for a sound that is at once rootsy and futuristic.”

“This powerful triple bill showcases an exciting new generation of South African artists.

Molekane is a socially conscious hip-hop artist (formerly of the groundbreaking band Tumi and the Volume). This appearance will mark his U.S. debut performance. He is expected to deliver music from his latest solo album, “Rob the Church.”

Catch You On The Inside!

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