Ready for the Full Keita

9 Sep

It was a green field on the Spier Wine Estate, groomed to look like one of those premiership soccer fields where dreams are dashed or realised every weekend during the European soccer season. Basically it looked the bomb, at one end of the field was the stage, at the other end was a food court, part of which was curated by What If the World (the Neighbourhood Goods Market kats) litterally plonked down on the field. This is why people move to the Western Cape, the lifestyle is insanely akin to what I imagine heaven should be like.

“He has lost his intensity, he used to have a lot more passion a few years ago.” said Neo Muyanga as we welcomed the highlight of the concert onto stage with applause. The man with the lost intensity was Salif Keita and this was in December 2006 at the Spier African Music Festival. What could I say, one musical god was appraising another matter-of-factly with no judgement, so I took it to be an uncontious observation. My mouth did otherwise it said… “Why?” Neo’s reply was a long story which I can’t fully recall, but it had to do with the fact that when Salif came out as a musician he was anti-establishment, not only for his albinisim but also going against his royal roots. No royalty was supposed to be an entertainer… So time had taken its toll and maybe the great artist was starting to show the weight of his chosen path… something like that. Two things, firstly I had never consciously listened to Salif Keita at that juncture, secondly Mafikizolo had just board the hell out of us. Nhlanhla was ever graceful and Theo was energetic, but somehow it just wasn’t working that afternoon at Spier. So me, I was like bring on the Salif, and yo bring it he did. The master Kora player was also insanely fantastic, he got you on your feet whether you wanted to be up or not. After that performance I was left wondering that if this was Salif with no intensity am I even ready for the full Keita…? And what is he like when he is fully on point?


On September 29th 2011 Botswanacraft will be Salif Keita’s court, where we will all be treated to royal treatment by one of the real heavy weights of African music. I would like to think I am ready for this occasion as the Botswanacraft stage is also more intimate than a manicured field under the African sun. I am not sure who is gona get mugged exactly to facilitate that steep (but worth it) BWP400.00 ticket for a night of pure African magic, but they best be aware that it was for a good cause. Make no mistake, the other musicians (Banjo Mosele and  The Veterans) on that stage come the September 29th are going to feel the Full Keita and bring out only their best. You just can’t share a stage with Salif Keita and bore people to death like some young bucks once did.

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