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Yemi and Ladysmith Black Mambazo at MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland

Swaziland’s Bushfire Festival: My Top 8 Tips

Last weekend I attended the MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland. It was my second time at the festival (read about my first Bushfire in 2012) and my seventh trip to Swaziland, one of my favorite countries on earth. But this was my first time doing the full Bushfire experience, i.e. camping out on the festival grounds and staying for the full three days. Crowds at Bushfire. Swazi sunsets are the best. I’m not a hardcore camper nor a hardcore partier, and this generally precludes me from enjoying big music festivals. I went to Oppi Koppi, South Africa’s largest music festival, a few years ago and while I’m glad I did it once and survived, I would never go again. There are far too many people, too much dust, too much ridiculous behavior, and — most importantly — too few clean bathrooms (i.e., none) at Oppi Koppi. Bushfire is different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a festival and camping is a pain and people are drunk and the whole thing is exhausting and I came home with a stupid cold. But Bushfire is a delightful walk in the park compared to Oppi Koppi. House on Fire, the wonderfully eclectic, funky venue where […]

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Insider Tips for the Joburg City Festival

I love downtown Joburg. Everyone knows this. I am constantly singing the inner city’s praises and defending it against detractors. I visit the inner city as often as possible and I love discovering fun things to do there. Downtown Jozi at its best, viewed at sunset from the top of the Lister Building on Jeppe Street. Imagine my excitement when I learned there will be an entire week-long festival devoted to having fun in downtown Jozi, and that I would be involved in helping promote this festival to the world.

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An OppiKoppi Survival Guide

As I told you in my previous post, I survived OppiKoppi 2012. It was challenging at times but totally worth it. For those of you considering a maiden OppiKoppi voyage next year, here are ten tips for a successful experience. 1) Come prepared, but make sure you have enough space in your vehicle for everything you plan to bring. Can you see Lungi tucked in among all that stuff in the back seat, feet folded under her because there’s no space on the floor? That was me on the way home.

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Oppi! Koppi! I Survived.

Last night I returned from OppiKoppi, South Africa’s largest and most legendary music festival. “Oppi Koppie” means “on the hill” in Afrikaans. About 20,000 of us gathered for three days on a dusty farm in rural Limpopo province. We listened to dozens of mostly South African musical acts of multiple genres; most of them were good, and some of them were outstanding. We camped out. We inhaled massive amounts of dust. We peed in prickly thorn bushes. We danced, and we got lost, and we walked, for miles and miles and miles. We did not shower. We made lots of new friends.

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A Fiery Swazi Weekend

Before this past weekend, the last music festival I attended was the legendary HFStival — sometime around the turn of the millennium in a grimy, beer-sodden stadium in southeast Washington D.C. It was oppressively humid and there were more than 70,000 attendees, mostly suburban kids aged 14 to 25. There was moshing. With the exception of my favorite ska/punk band, Goldfinger, I don’t remember who played. The Bushfire festival is as far from the HFSTival as a music festival can get, but equally awesome. Bushfire is a laid-back affair, held in an otherworldly creative compound in semi-rural Swaziland called House on Fire. The performers are diverse, as is the audience. I saw my share of stoned teenagers and 20-somethings, but the crowd was also filled with young families, 30- and 40-something development workers, and a smattering of retirees. Accents were primarily South African, American, and Swazi. Skin colors were black, white, and everything in between.

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After the Fire

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Swaziland, my second-favorite African country. The main reason for my trip was Bushfire 2012, a huge music and arts festival at Swaziland’s House on Fire. I saw and did a lot of other stuff though — too much for one post. I’m too tired for even one full-length post at the moment, but I can’t sleep tonight without posting at least a couple of photos from the weekend. Here are three of my favorites.

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