Marrabenta fest to showcase Mozambique's finest

The ninth edition of an annual festival showcasing the signature sound of Mozambique - marrabenta - is set to take place on 2 and 3 February in and around Maputo.

Jimmy Dludlu is a special guest of this year's Marrabenta Festival. Photo: hotsecretz.blogspot.co.za
Jimmy Dludlu is a special guest of this year's Marrabenta Festival. Photo: hotsecretz.blogspot.co.za

Marrabenta is a distinctly Mozambican music genre, said to have emerged in the 1940s in Maputo (or Lourenço Marques as it was then called) at a time when the city was a cultural mixing pot, with traders, immigrants and workers flocking into ‘the Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. It is from this cosmopolitan heyday of the city that Marrabenta emerged.  Today Marrabenta not only inspires the capital city but the entire country, promoting Mozambique through music and dance.  The annual Marrabenta Festival celebrates the significance of this musical genre and aims to not only promote but preserve the genre's existence, to pass the love of Marrabenta down from generation to generation. 

Festivities kick off on Tuesday 2 February with a concert at the historic central Station Station in Maputo at 1pm. The annual ‘Marrabenta Train’ will depart from the station around 1:45pm, taking music lovers to nearby Marracuene, about 30km away, where it is expected to arrive around 2:30pm. From 3:30pm until late, the annual Gwaza Muthini concert takes place in Marracuene, a music festival with a proud history of over 100 years. When the bands finish around midnight, marrabenta DJs will continue until the early hours of the morning. Entrance is free.

For those who don’t to make the trip to Marracuene for Gwaza Muthini that night, the Centro Cultural Franco Moçambicano (CCFM) in Maputo will host a concert from 8:30pm to midnight. The line-up includes local favourites Stewart Sukuma with Banda Nkuvu, Orquestra Djambo, Gabriel Chiau and Team Sabawana.

Mozambique-born, South Africa-based guitarist Jimmy Dludlu will be a special guest of this year’s Marrabenta Festival, which aims to encourage collaboration between the country’s old guard and the new generation of artists.  

One of Mozambique’s most successful exports, Marrabenta supergroup Mabulu will also make their long-awaited return. This Kora-nominated band was formed in 2000 and have performed at major festivals all over the world. The band consists of musicians of various ages, presenting a strong message about the need for inter-generational tolerance and co-operation. CNN have called the band "a passionate expression of Mozambique's past and future". The band’s current line-up features Dilon Djindji, Zoco Dimande, Bernardo Domingos, Sergio Muiambo, Mad Level, Lyshanie and Jorito.

On Wednesday 3 February, celebrated across the country as the Day of Mozambican Heroes (‘Dia dos Herios Moçambicanos’), the cultural centre in Matelane, Maputo (Centro Cultural de Matalane) will host a free concert between 3pm and 9pm.

For more details check out the festival's Facebook page.

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