Inside Malawi's Lake Of Stars

Lake Of Stars has long been a musical haven in Africa. People follow the road to Mangochi from various directions, speaking different tongues. At Lake Of Stars, whites become blacks and blacks become whites - you cannot separate or differentiate.  

Toya Delazy. Photo: Lake Of Stars
Toya Delazy. Photo: Lake Of Stars

Even though this was my third Lake of Stars, the excitement this festival brings to those who have attended or are planning to attend is simply electric. As Malawians awaited the beginning of the country’s favorite annual festival, and as weeks of waiting slowly turned to days and then hours, you could hear tongues wagging and see fingers tweeting about Lake Of Stars. Hearts and souls were thirsty for entertainment.

The festival finally kicked off on Friday 25 September. The first night was in one attendant’s opinion the “unexpected hit” of their entire weekend. South African house group Uhuru left the people continually jiving and sweating during a high-energy performance that included world-famous hits like ‘Y-tjukutja’, ‘Ungowami’ and ‘The Sound’. Toya Delazy followed with a blend of hip-hop and house. She pumped up the crowd and bust open the hearts of local Romeos and Juliets with her hit ‘Love is in the Air’. This was followed by a spectacular expression by local hip-hop icon, Gwamba, whose execution left almost everyone rapping along, even if they clearly didn’t speak the local Chichewa.

People barely noticed the sunset as their hearts were shining with non-stop excitement and good vibes. A few hours before these sunset performances on the main stage, festival attendees had already been blown away by showcases from fusion artist Trappa, KonkalaziVJ Ice, Dan Lu and George Kalukusha, a local pop singer whose lyrics and music have made him a favorite among all those who have seen him perform.

After the Friday party came to a close, the following two days kept the same spirit going. The weekend included a fashion show, a rendition of the Vagina Monologues, as well as performances from artists like Botswana’s Zeus and trap-pop brothers bFake, whose satire and sense of humour kept everyone laughing. One can't describe the weekend without remembering the incredible Lusibilo Band and Zimbabwean globetrotters Mokoomba, whose performance skills made them firm favourites among the locals.

Award-winning Scottish group Young Fathers’ name may not have been so familiar before the fest, but as soon as they began their soundcheck, everyone could not help but nod their heads in appreciation to the amazing vocals and deep lyrics that they delivered.

As the final day started fading, reminding people that good things never last, local urban musician Sonye hit the stage in the early hours of Monday morning with a spectacular performance. Sonye’s voice was hijacked by the crowd that seemed to have memorized all of his songs. His last song for the night, ‘Tsika’, was definitely a good end to the festival, leaving all the girls in booty-shaking mode and the guys in awe.

After such an intense three days of good music, the only conclusion I can make is that Lake of Stars is surely worth the excitement and thrill. The diversity of the crowd, as well the great line-up of artists, is the magic that keeps this event consistently near the top of lists of the best music festivals in Africa.

 

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