The World Around Us

Ending our trip in Africa with Bushfire

Country: Swaziland by Lisette

13-07-2013

LuggageRecovering from my flu, I was not too happy to be back in a/c for another 12 hours or so. But here we were, finding ourselves in yet another Intercape bus going back to the Beitbridge border!

With limited waiting time, we were happy that the only thing keeping us at the border was a luggage check. We dragged our suitcases inside and realized we were being waved through. Splendid show! After waiting for a mere half hour for the police checking our new passport-stamps we went off.

As soon as we arrived at Jo’burg’s bus terminal, we found our way to the mini-bus stand. Spots were available for the next one to Swaziland and we congratulated ourselves. Squeezed in (Marlowe had about one quarter only of his ass on a seat, poor guy) we tried to fall asleep in the heat for the next 8 hours. The border was a breeze and we were dropped off closely to our accommodation.

By this time we were hungry and decided to have a quick bite before heading over to the Bushfire festival. Turns out we must have found the best restaurant in Swaziland! I had luxurious barbeque meat with mango chutney (which is usually only good when in India) and Marlowe went with a steak that was so tender I am salivating just remembering the taste.

In short, if you want to be in a nice room with friendly hotel staff and an amazing restaurant with a good selection of wine, pick Mantenga Lodge!

The next day we went to Bushfire and were pleasantly surprised. Though a bit smaller we had imagined, it was well set up and allowed for some walking around. With one large stage, two smaller ones and an intimate setting at The Barn, we had plenty to see and listen too. Also imagine a Kids Zone, an Arts Fair, and dozens of food stalls; all this at the setting of House on Fire!

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House on Fire is a unique place in Swaziland, a collaborative space for artists. The space now includes a restaurant, café, stores, and hotel accommodation. When the first performances were a huge success, the idea was born for a three-day Pan-African arts festival that not only benefits a strong arts community but also Young Heroes.

A few highlights:

While we waited for our turn to use headsets, the boys from Tonik intrigued us. Their music was live but with almost no sound. Unless you had those headsets, you could only watch them from the sidelines. It was really cool to see how the two band members interacted with one another and showed such joy playing, while listeners were quietly swaying on their cheers or seemingly lost in thought as they closed their eyes and leant backwards in their chairs while others seemed to meditate. Perseverance and patience were rewarded when we were finally able to sit down and listen to their instrumental songs. It was a joy to hear a didgeridoo in combination with the tabla rhythms, percussion and the piano. Of course, we bought the CD.

Here’s a video for an impression:

Naturally, there was some good food and some fine arts. We bought food from a group making traditional food from several African countries that supported a refugee camp. Delicious and the money goes to a good cause. The necklace I had been eyeing all day and that Marlowe bought for me, gave the mother a continued opportunity to send her child to school.

We watched some not-so-good performances like the Bomba Estereo group whose music just wasn’t our style. The Colombian band is well liked but electro and Spanish one-liners we didn’t understand didn’t compel us to dance or even wiggle our butts.  Another example was the African band Shangaan Electro. As always fascinated by traditional dancing Lisette was in awe but the music was “mwah…”

13-06-01-Bushfire4WAnd it was great bumping into few people we knew from Maputo and Swaziland!

All in all it was a fun ending of our trip in Africa. The next blog will be about the Netherlands, so watch out for the new article page.