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Africa's rhythm in the heart of Jozi

Music lovers from all corners of the continent gathered in Newtown this past weekend for the annual Bassline Africa Day celebrations. Over the past nine years The Bassline has brought some of the most diverse sounds to Johannesburg in celebration of this event. This year's eclectic and diverse mix of genres featured acts from Niger, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria with South Africans Lira and Thandiswa Mazwai headlining the event.

With May 25th being the internationally-recognised, commemorative Africa Day, the concert took place over two nights. I was fortunate enough to attend the Saturday concert headlined by the ineffable Thandiswa Mazwai, her smooth sounds accompanied by rhythms and melodies from artists from all over the continent, made it a night to remember.

Tanga Pasi (which means 'Starting from Scratch'), an upcoming band from the Kalanga-speaking western corner of Zimbabwe, had the crowd on their feet ululating and dancing to their fun uptempo beats and traditional African dance routines. The other acts did not disappoint with Olufemi from Nigeria's smooth blend of Afrobeat, rich jazz, and West African highlife with a nostalgic Sophiatown flavour moving through the audience as a sultry sway of bodies. It was a musical feast with a delicious fare for all tastes.

Kora award-winning vocalist and artist Thandiswa Mazwai closed off this fitting ode to African music and art, with a showstopper performance that really shouldn't be transcribed into words but rather left in its original form. Performing with her all-female band, Thandiswa started her performance as one would a sacred ceremony, hitting notes I would only describe as spiritual. Then she proceeded to take us on a musical journey that had the whole room singing - their voices hoarse - to their favourite songs and gyrating to her music as if in some kind of trance. It was incredible and educational, as Thandiswa peppered the performance with social commentary and a history lesson educating the audience about the Great African Migration and how this history illegitimises xenophobia. Her performance was truly something to experience, a veritable rock star performance it as evidenced by a bra being thrown on stage.

The night was a fitting celebration of the continent's vibrancy, dynamism and the global need for Africans to embrace our collective identity. As one audience member said to me after the show:

"That was church for Africans!"

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