EDITORIAL: The real is on the rise

Last week we took a decision to change the colour of our masthead to a bright pink. This was done to celebrate Women’s Day. Just a small token on our part.

The public holiday was spent with some people attending high teas, getting breakfast in bed or perhaps a bunch of flowers. For Team Vuvu, however, it was spent in the Limpopo heat, deciding which band to listen to.


The only signs of Women’s Day at this year’s Oppikoppi Bewilderbeast festival were in the random shout-outs by artists and bands on stage.

Maybe the signs were all around us: women were drinking their livers dead, laden with dirt and screaming their lungs out, with no visible judgment against them. We saw a beautiful lesbian couple wrapped in each other’s arms, listening to Bongeziwe Mabandla’s set on the top of a hill.

They epitomised some of the freedom women enjoy today.

The Wits Vuvuzela team exercised their own kind of freedom. We pitched our tent where we wanted, showered when we could and got to pick and choose from some of the best performers the festival has ever seen.

The experience was soured by a minor racist incident, something we had been waiting for. What we hadn’t anticipated was that it would come from a tiny hipster-looking girl. Looks can be deceiving like that.

Oppikoppi has a reputation for being an Afrikaans rock festival, but that in no way describes the entire festival. The programme was defined by diversity.

We watched a set done entirely in isiXhosa, swayed to the “indie-bele” sounds of ShortStraw and danced like we were on Jika Majika when Mi Casa and Zakes Bantwini performed. We didn’t even get to attend half the things on offer.

We left on a high note, having experienced something new and survived the wilderness.

Back to reality

On the way back, reality sent shivers down our spines when we drove past a sign marking the entrance to Marikana. Today marks the one-year anniversary of what is now called theMarikana massacre, in which 34 families lost fathers, brothers, sons and husbands.

Under apartheid, we had a police force that we believe was put in place to drive fear into the hearts of people. Post-1994, we expected a police service that would serve and protect its people. On August 16 2012, we started to question whether we don’t perhaps have a police force instead of a police service.

Driving past the place where so much blood was split and where people are still being killed brought us back to the “real” South Africa. The one beyond the 20 000 people choosing to slum it for the experience, and pretending to get along despite the drunken slurs.

Same music, different people

By Pheladi Sethusa and Shandukani Mulaudzi

Pulling the short straw is something that happens a few times in your life. Sometimes you may be lucky and you won’t, this is life.

Screenshot_2013-08-10-12-10-21-1 ShortStraw

For the five man band ShortStraw, it was about the beginning of their career. They started out playing for no one then moved on to crowds of about 40 and now, they have two shows on the best Oppikoppi stages.

In an interview with the band, we told them ofour sad racist encounter the night before.

“That’s fucking bullshit. It’s fucking 2013 you can only laugh at people who still think that way,” said Russel, bass player for ShortStraw.

Russel told Wits Vuvuzela that one of the first black bands to play at Oppi was Kwani Experience and that was what sparked a cultural change at Oppi.

“Black bands used to be apprehensive. But once they played and were received well they changed their minds about the fest.”

Tom added that music is an experience for everyone and something that should bring all people together.

After pulling the short straw on day one, we were on a mission to find some diversity at Oppikoppi.

Traditional music moves

FIRST OPPI: Bongeziwe Mabandla plays his first set at the festival. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
FIRST OPPI: Bongeziwe Mabandla plays his first set at the festival. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

The Ray-Ban stage, where the incident happened the night before was where we found a new enlightening Oppi experience.

The act was, Bongeziwe Mabandla, who enchanted the crowd with his sweet traditional melodies in isiXhosa. His sound was one we cannot put our finger on but it made us feel like we were watching a male Thandiswa Mazwai.

The crowd, representative of South Africa’s overrated rainbow nation, more than half of whom did not understand the lyrics, stood and danced along with him.

People lost their minds when he jumped off the stage into the crowd and beckoned him to jump onto the table, which he did without protest.

AO JIKA: Mi Casa’s frontman, J Something setting the stage alight. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
AO JIKA: Mi Casa’s frontman, J Something setting the stage alight. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

 Oppi’s cultural shift

Bittereinder, who are veterans to Oppi said the festival has gotten bigger and better with more variety in music than ever before.

Jaco van der Merwe, rapper in three man band used the Vusi Mahlasela tribute last year as an example of Oppi’s diversity.

Mi Casa is a great example of diversity, it’s just beautiful. They also have random black people at our show, who have no idea what we are saying, but they jam anyway,” Jaco chuckled.

Later that evening we jammed to crowd favourites Zakes Bantwiniand MiCasa. At these performances, the crowds were just as diverse and responsive. As J’Something asked us to jika, we turned and saw different people jika along with him.