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The Miombo Magic Music Festival

It sounded like something full of hippies, flower-children, crystals, candles, fairies, trolls and such like. And in a way, it kind of was… But the Zim version of Woodstock, the Mashonaland district version of Splashy Fen, the Christon Bank version of Glastonbury, was just so much cooler than any amount of tie-dye or flower-power could ever bring to an event…

The brief was pretty straightforward… take 7-month old daughter along to a weekend of music, revelry, and general fun in the sun under a canopy of msasa trees – her first rock concert, made ever more glorious that it was taking place in the last place anyone thought of to run a music festival of this kind… Zimbabwe – land of stone, Rhodies, Gweru, and other such misgivings. But the Gus’s (Gus & Angus, festival organisers extraordinaire) and their merry band of merriment-makers pulled off the biggest coup to hit Africa since the longstanding governor of Outer Ougadougou was displaced by his one-eared, three-legged dog called Napoleon. The menu of bands was something a little daunting for someone as SQUARE as me… anyone ever heard of the marimba-punk genre? Or how about a band called Ahmed & Dangerous? Blend in an MC called Comrade Fatso, and you kind of get where this festival was going… but hey, the bar was serving Castle and Windhoek Lager and there was sadza ne nyama on sale too (there was some Rhodie in all this rainbow-mix after all) – how bad could it be? As long as I hung out at the bar and looked khaki enough not to be considered a hipster, I might just get away with it… then again I had a little girl in a flowery dress and matching crocheted headband hanging from the Baby Bjorn on my chest, and I had removed my shoes earlier in the day to look the part, so who was I trying to kid?!

The short version is that Miombo Magic 2012 Edition was an ubersuccess-story of just what ‘Babweans can do when they pull it all together. A rather well-written monologue given recently by a renowned Zimbo mentions how the bigger picture in this country is not one of political instability, socio-economic crisis, or racial disparity – he mentioned the fact that Zim was a microcosm of the world at present… a dynamic and ever-changing debate on the values and principles of good over evil – or more correctly put, hate over love. Zim is the Lord of the Rings of contemporary Africa, the Harry Potter of Third World fable. The dark side is plain to see and has a typically dark way of spreading its darkness and crookedness. The light side of Zimbabawe is rarely seen these days, especially outside of the teapot-shaped boundaries that withhold her secrets, good and bad from the rest of the world. But for just short of 30 hours this past weekend, I was exposed to some of the best of the best of the good stuff that this country has to offer… (and no mon, I’m not talking about dat good stuff mon, dat stuff you find at concerts mon, that drifts across in the wind, like the answer my friend… no mon, dees be a family show mon)…

If this whole Zim thing really is just a re-run of Tolkien’s wildest imaginings, then I am glad that I have seen – if only in part and for a short while – the triumph of the Ents of Fangorn Forest on their march against Isengard (that last analogy was especially for my flower-haired friends – trees over Orcs I say… more trees, less arseholes, peace, word, etc, etc…) To those dusty and tired Zimbabweans who have hung in for the past decade or so, I have to remind them of Berthold Auerbach’s comment that music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life… the Miombo Magic music festival was just the cleansing needed to inspire and expose those subtle yet tangible cracks of hope that have started to appear against all odds in the fragments of Zim life. And if music truly be the food of love, then play on Comrade Fatso, play on…

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