Legendary jazz musician Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse used the platform given to him at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival to lash out at the government for not investing enough money in the development of the arts.
The annual festival kicked off on Friday and will end today.
Mabuse accused the government of failing artists and blasted the country’s political leaders for their lack of commitment to improving the local arts sector despite the significant role played by artists in the fight against apartheid.
“The rulers of this country have conveniently forgotten our contribution to the liberation struggle,” said Mabuse.
“The opera scene is folding, Dance Umbrella is caving in and musicians are always buried as paupers.”
Mabuse said the arts scene was thriving everywhere except in South Africa.
“We cannot allow certain individuals to amass a fortune at the expense of those who are always hungry.
“Music must be at the forefront [of the arts sector].”
The performances were preceded by conversations about the troubling state of affairs in the local arts scene.
However, political discourse was only a small part of the festival.
Singer and songwriter Amanda Black, the first musician to perform at the festival, had everyone eating out of the palm of her hand.
The audience was hypnotised when she performed Sinazo and her breakout single Amazulu.
Black punctuated her performance with anecdotes about becoming a successful musician despite being a three-time failure on Idols SA.
She said her experience on the show taught her to view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
The three-day festival was preceded by run-up events where established artists shared their experiences with their emerging counterparts in Cape Town and surrounding townships.
During a master class session at Guga S’thebe Arts Centre in Langa, she said: “I feel like the only option I had was to go forward.”
A cappella group The Soil also gave an engaging and interactive talk in Langa. The focus of the trio’s master class was how music could be used as a tool for activism.
“Uhuru is one of those songs where we express our dissatisfaction and say we won’t be happy until certain things are spoken about. One thing that is upsetting about our country is that the voice of the youth is not heard,” said group member Buhlebendalo Mda, referring to a song on their album, Echoes of Kofifi.
“Music is a powerful tool and we pray that whenever we write a song, the message is heard by the right people so something can be done.”
The first day of the festival ended on a positive note, with performances from the likes of Mabuta, Incognito, The Liberation Project Acoustic Band and Black Motion.
The Soil blew the audience away when they performed yesterday. Sisonke Xonti, Simphiwe Dana and Corinne Bailey Rae also made the most of their time on stage.
A special tribute was performed in honour of the late Hugh Masekela.