On the mainstage at the Bushfire Festival in Ezulwini, Swaziland, Canadian-African spoken word artists D’bi Young and Croc E Moses take turns casting adjectives and adverbs into a dense crowd.
The poetry of southern Africa is a different beast than the one that lives in dark bars and sparse cafes in Canada—it garners an elevated level of respect.
South African indie music has rarely crossed the ocean to North America’s mass markets—but the genre is developing, and the sound is big, bright and bold.
Gazelle frontman, Xander Ferreira, says South African indie music is in a renaissance period: “We believe this is the future for African music, for people to gather a scene here first and then go and take over the world.”
Mbongseni “Bholoja” Ngubane wasn’t always an internationally revered musician. By profession, the soulful songwriter hailing from the kingdom of Swaziland was once a mechanical engineer.
“To me, music is a calling,” Bholoja explained, hours before taking the stage at this year’s Bushfire Arts Festival in Ezulwini, Swaziland.
“It’s not all about being doctors or engineers. I was an engineer, but I’m an artist today.”