Gospel Festival lights up Gwanda
AMAZING gospel bliss!! This best sums up the just-ended Gwanda Gospel Music Festival.
This was not an ordinary concert as it was world class – typical Durban July setup with all the glitz and glam, VVIP marquee, moving lights on stage, preview monitors and projector screens, transparent stage decks, hazers and smoke machines as well as a powerful sound system – all in Gwanda, at a gospel gathering.
It was clear – the organiser and founder of the three-day musical event – Justice Maphosa was a well travelled man of high standards who had done his research thoroughly and was passionate about the concert and wanted to put Matabeleland South on the map.
The South Africa-based, Gwanda-bred businessman simply organised the gospel fete which ended yesterday to get the nation to gather around spirituality.
To ensure Gwanda was lit, Maphosa had to refurbish the Phelandaba stadium, which has become the home of the festival, called on the services of South Africa’s leading suppliers of live event technical services and equipment, MCG Productions and erected a marquee for the comfort of VIP guests. To make the event even more exciting, Maphosa arranged a four kilometre fireworks display that brought the mining town to a standstill. The colourful fireworks display went on for about 30 minutes on the two days.
Initially when it was reported that 90 tonnes of equipment was being brought into the country from South Africa for the event, many were disappointed questioning why Maphosa had no confidence in local suppliers. But after attending the event, naysayers were left with egg on their faces as the level of professionalism by MCG was on another level – a level most local production companies are yet to reach. Maphosa said he had called on the tried and tested company because he wanted the show to be nothing short of amazing. “This event is very important to me. I just wanted to do something people think is not possible – have a world class gospel show in Gwanda just for people to praise and worship. I’m glad we managed to do so,” he said after the festival. Now in its second edition, the gospel festival featured performances by Rebecca Malope, Hlengiwe Mhlaba, Judith Moyo, Knowledge Nkiwane, Lusanda Spiritual Group, ZCC Mbungo Stars, Donny Ngwenyama, Zimpraise, Dumi Mkokstad, Andile KaMajola, Mathias Mhere as well as Charles and Olivia Charamba. On Friday, the first day of the three-day festival, artistes took to the stage and performed as if they were at a jam session. Their slots were short and sweet – approximately 20 minutes each. Even though the performances were short, artistes like Mhere gave a good account of themselves, forcing organisers of the event to give him a longer prime time slot the next day. And the next day, he wowed fans again with his gospel music which has a sungura vibe. As expected, all the SA artistes were on point with the likes of Mhlaba getting into a trance on stage. But before the musical events, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri ministered for more than four hours starting at about 1PM, two-days in a row supported by pastors from the Brethren-inChrist Church. He preached about love, tolerance and unity. Yesterday, all the artistes attended a church service at Gwanda BICC.
What made the event more special was the attendance. On all days, the stadium was filled to the rafters with people from all walks of life. Among the VVIP guests were Xhosa chiefs from South Africa, Minister of State for Matabeleland South – Abednico Ncube, Chihuri, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister – Walter Mzembi and his deputy Annastacia Ndlovu, Senator Chief Musarurwa, Gwanda Mayor – Knowledge Ndlovu and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss Karikoga Kaseke.
It was quite a family affair as young children were also present, though their parents seemed a bit reckless as some periodically went missing.
Security was more than enough with police officers at all corners of the ground. More had been deployed to stand right in front of the stage to protect the artistes especially considering there were visitors from South Africa.
The partnership between Maphosa and the tourism ministry and ZTA paid off as all SA artistes were allowed into the country with no hassles compared to last year when Malope who was actually meant to be the main attraction – failed to attend the event after failing to secure a work permit. As a result, an excited Malope apologised to fans in Gwanda for letting them down last year saying her failure to make it to the event was beyond her control.
As a result, Minister Mzembi took to the stage to announce that his ministry and ZTA would facilitate the smooth processing of Malope’s paperwork each time she wants to perform in Zimbabwe to avoid her being turned away.
“Rebecca, you can come back to Zimbabwe anytime now because the permit issues have been sorted. Now that my ministry and ZTA are involved in this event, there won’t be any such issues anymore,” he said.
Scenes of the fest as captured by Melissa Mpofu