Set on the lawns of Serokolwane this past Easter holidays, the first installment of the Gaborone International Jazz Festival (GIJF) brought the best of both worlds as it attracted the young, trendy and commercial music followers while at the same time catering for Jazz enthusiasts. The GIJF saw a mix of music genres like motswako, blues and soul, among others, come to the fore and history was made as the likes of Grammy award winning acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo serenade the crowd with their isicathamiya and mbuse vocal styles. The group took revellers down memory lane with their song ‘Homeless’ from their 2013 Grammy Award nominated album Live: Singing for Peace around the World. According to one of the group’s members, Sibongiseni Shabalala, the festival meant a lot to them because it was their second performance in Botswana after a long absence. He reiterated that they have always wanted to return for more performances as well as to introduce new members who joined the legendary group. “The crowd tonight was beautiful and the response to our dance moves and music was massive. We would like to thank Batswana for turning up in great numbers and we hope to come back and give them more,” Shabalala told Time Out.
The line-up also included the crème de la crème of local jazz talent. The local musos proved that they were a force to be reckoned with, and these included Mpho Sebina, Punah Gabasiane and Nnunu Ramogotsi who opened up the festival. Another highlight of the evening was Shanti Lo’s with his commanding voice and sultry performance. The last act to take the stage was HHP and his choir group the Pulse of Joy featured on MNet’s clash of the Choirs. Their performance was something new as they fused Jabba’s motswako lyrical content into jazz beats and perfomed his famous songs, Music and Lights and Bosso ke mang among others.