South Africa’s Northern Cape province is the country’s largest in terms of size, but the smallest in terms of population. Though covering nearly a third of the country’s land, it is home to only around 1.1 million people (about 2,2% of the country’s population).
At the same time, the province has enormous cultural, natural and historical relevance, including as the home to many of the indigenous people of the country, the Khoisan, and as a gateway to neighbouring Namibia and Botswana.
To put this often-overlooked region firmly on the musical map, the inaugural Kgalagadi Jazz Festival will take place on Easter Saturday 26 March at Wrenchville Stadium in Kuruman from midday until late.
The festival is the latest event to focus on jazz in South Africa and looks set to be the province’s answer to the Cape Town International Jazz Fest taking place the following weekend, the annual Joy of Jazz in Johannesburg and the recent International Jazz Extravaganza in Durban. It comes at a time when South Africa's live jazz scene struggles to sustain itself and local jazz artists battle to get any radio airplay.
Scheduled to perform at this historic event is an impressive line-up of talent both young and old, including top stars from neighbouring countries. Headlining will be young Afro-soul sensations Zahara and Nathi, the legendary Stimela and Letta Mbulu, both of whom found international success in the 1980s, and jazz heavyweights in the form of saxophonist McCoy Mrubata and guitarist Selaelo Selota. Also on the bill are Blue Chili from the nearby town of Kathu, Ndingo Johwa (aka Satjilombe) from Botswana and Elemotho, one of Namibia’s greatest musical exports.
Elemotho is the first Namibian musician to win the RFI Discoveries Awards (in 2012). He has released three albums to date, most recently Ke Nako (it’s time).
Guitarist and singer Ndingo Johwa, meanwhile, is a legend of Botswana's ‘Ikalanga jazz’, having released seven albums to date, most recently a Best Of compilation in 2011.